Nicotine is one of the most famous chemicals on the planet, thanks to its presence in cigarettes and addictive quality, but there is more to this chemical than you may understand.
What is Nicotine?
Nicotine is an alkaloid that is found in the plants of the nightshade family, having a strong effect on the parasympathetic nervous system. Famed for being a stimulant, most people know about nicotine because it is the active ingredient in cigarettes, and the reason why picking up that habit can be so dangerous. As a potent stimulant for the nervous system, the body begins to crave more of the compound after being exposed to it. Nicotine typically only affects the body for a short time.
What many people don’t realize is that this compound is also found in other types of foods/plants, such as eggplants, tomatoes, and potatoes, although this is in minimal quantities. In some cases, it can be used for medicinal purposes, or to help and treat the addiction to cancer-causing cigarettes. By itself, this chemical is not inherently dangerous, but given that the primary source of this stimulant is cigarettes, many people identify it as a “bad” compound.
Benefits of Nicotine
There are a number of benefits to this compound, including the following:
- Preventing Parkinson’s disease
- Reducing risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Improving memory
- Boosting energy
- Reducing inflammation
- Treating depression
Let us discuss them in detail below.
Although smoking is never recommended, it is found that smokers are three times less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease (according to certain studies), largely due to the effects of this chemical on the brain.
As a cognitive stimulant, nicotine can help the brain remain active and engaged, which can reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, as you age.
Continuing from above, the burst of energy towards cognitive function associated with nicotine can help improve memory and retention of information.
Some research has found that the regular supplementation of this alkaloid can cut down on the severity of Tourette Syndrome.
The stimulant nature of this compound makes it excellent for those suffering from low energy, depression, and mood disorders. That being said, nicotine withdrawal can also cause depression and mood swings.
Nicotine Side Effects
This chemical compound has a number of well-known side effects, specifically addiction, nervous system disorders, tumor growth, and a negative effect on brain development.
- Addiction: The major side effect of nicotine is an addiction. While injections or supplements are often used to help people curb their addiction to cigarettes, the body will continue to crave nicotine as long as it is being provided with the chemical.
- Nervous System: As a powerful stimulant, an excess amount of nicotine – in any form – will result in anxiety, nervousness, and excess stress hormones in the body.
- Brain Development: Studies have found that regular supplementation of this alkaloid before your brain has fully developed (age 25-28) can be damaging to the development of the prefrontal cortex. For this reason, smoking at a young age is highly discouraged.
- Tumors: It is has been shown that this compound can exacerbate tumor growth and make cancer treatment less effective.