It’s that craving again, and as you try to fight off the toe curling itch, it’ll do you some good to know what happens in your body.
Nicotine is an incredibly addictive substance, hence its popularity, and hence why so many people smoke tobacco. With the introduction of vaping into the mainstream market, the way we ingest nicotine has changed dramatically and has meant that we don’t have to give up nicotine to cut down on tobacco. This makes things easier for those who are trying to give up smoking and also means that you can improve your health without going through the uncomfortable feelings of nicotine withdrawal.
Let’s talk about nicotine
Nicotine is the substance within tobacco which is addictive. This means that it is the reason why people get addicted to cigarettes. Found in the nightshade plant, nicotine is unique in that it acts as both a depressant and a stimulant. In small quantities, nicotine can help you focus and stay alert whilst in larger quantities, for example poisonous quantities, it can slow the heart rate. Nicotine from vape shops is used in concentrated forms within the e juice. This means that the nicotine solution which is added to e juice is very potent and must not be ingested in any other way than through the vape device.
Since its discovery by Philip Morris tobacco, nicotine has been infused with ammonium so as to increase the potency of the nicotine hit. This process, known as freebasing combines the nicotine and ammonium molecules and gives users a bigger hit. Vape juices have mimicked this in their nicotine salt products, which when inhaled resemble the nicotine hits you get from cigarettes.
What happens when you ingest nicotine?
Nicotine is addictive because it helps boost your mood. Nicotine receptors in the brain release dopamine. With its calming effects and concentration enhancing, nicotine creates a pleasant feeling in the body whilst also reducing appetite. It is these effects which lead users to become addicted, the dopamine released from the brain becoming what feels normal to be released and so the brain begins to want more of it.
What can happen when you quit nicotine?
Quitting nicotine can be a very difficult process for many people. The withdrawal cravings, depending on the amount of nicotine you are used to, can range from mild to intense. These cravings are intensified by a range of other symptoms.
You may feel physical sensations such as a tingling in the hands and feet and a sore throat. The tingling is due to the lack of nicotine in the blood, whilst the sore throat is brought on by the throat beginning to heal itself from the tobacco smoke damage.
Bowel problems can also occur, these can range from abdominal cramps to constipation and gas. Nicotine acts as a diuretic and so a lack of it may lead to a slowing of the digestive system.
Psychological effects can include difficulty concentrating due to the cravings for nicotine, alongside anxiety, irritability and if you’re prone to it, increased depression. This is due to nicotine having mostly a psychologically therapeutic effect on the human body as well as a physical effect.
Nicotine suppresses the appetite and so when you stop ingesting it, you may find that your appetite increases and so you may begin to gain weight.
How long do the symptoms last?
Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal will peak at about 3 days into your going cold turkey and so will begin to subside after around a week. Of course, the level of intensity of the symptoms will depend on how much you smoked before.
How to reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms
The best way to quit smoking and wean yourself off nicotine is to use one of the smoking cessation tools which are readily available in both ships and over the counter at pharmacies.
Many people will opt for nicotine gum. This is flavoured gum which contains nicotine, and so as you chew you will ingest nicotine with it. These are great if you are heavily addicted as it contains quite high concentrations of nicotine within it.
Patches are also great for direct alleviation of withdrawal symptoms into the skin. Nicotine patches contain a lot of nicotine and so are best kept for those who were heavy smokers.
Vaping is the best bet for those who are looking for a casual and fun alternative to smoking. There is a lot of flexibility in vaping, due to the fact that you can choose from a range of nicotine concentrations.