Nicotine - The Nerve Poison
Which of the following poisons is the most deadly?
If you guessed # 3, you are correct. The lethal dosage for a 150 pound adult is 60 mg. The lethal dosage for # 2 is 75 mg and the lethal dosage for # 1 is 200 mg. In other words, nicotine is three times as toxic as arsenic and one and one half times as toxic as strychnine.
(source: Poisoning/Toxicology, Third Edition, Jay M. Arena, B.S., M.D.)
Nicotine - a poisonous volatile alkaloid, derived from tobacco and responsible for many of the effects of tobacco. It first stimulates (small doses) and depresses (large doses) at autonomic ganglia and myoneural junctions. It is also used as an insecticide and fumigant. (source: Black's Medical Dictionary, thirty-fourth edition)
Recent research has shown in fine detail how nicotine acts on the brain to produce a number of behavioral effects. Of primary importance to its addictive nature are findings that nicotine activates the brain circuitry that regulates feelings of pleasure, the so-called reward pathways. A key brain chemical involved in mediating the desire to consume drugs is the neurotransmitter dopamine, and research has shown that nicotine increases the levels of dopamine in the reward circuits. Nicotine's pharmacokinetic properties have been found also to enhance its abuse potential. Cigarette smoking produces a rapid distribution of nicotine to the brain, with drug levels peaking within 10 seconds of inhalation. The acute effects of nicotine dissipate in a few minutes, causing the smoker to continue dosing frequently throughout the day to maintain the drug's pleasurable effects and prevent withdrawal.
What people frequently do not realize is that the cigarette is a very efficient and highly engineered drug-delivery system. By inhaling, the smoker can get nicotine to the brain very rapidly with every puff. A typical smoker will take 10 puffs on a cigarette over a period of 5 minutes that the cigarette is lit. Thus, a person who smokes about 1-1/2 packs (30 cigarettes) daily, gets 300 "hits" of nicotine to the brain each day. These factors contribute considerably to nicotine's highly addictive nature.
Addiction- dependence on a substance to the point that stopping is very difficult and causes severe physical and mental reactions. Pattern of compulsive drug use characterized by a continued craving for a substance and the need to use the substance for effects other than pain relief.
Nicotine - one of the most toxic and addicting of all drugs and it is toxic by all routes of exposure including the intact skin. ....also used as a contact insecticidal. Lewis' Dictionary of Toxicology
For a great site on the history of this nerve poison check out this Toxic Chemical Site!
On the net - How Stuff Works - Nicotine
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