Caffeine and nicotine are two substances that are popular with today’s youth. Both are used as stimulants, and can be found inside a number of substances intended to be consumed. The most popular and familiar would be coffee/caffeinated beverages, including soft drinks, for caffeine, and nicotine can be found in items such as cigarettes and electronic cigarette vaporizing juice. Caffeine and nicotine have their own benefits and drawbacks, which will be discussed further in depth.
Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants; that is, both caffeine and nicotine will give you “pick me up” feelings, usually accommodated with a “crash.” Both are somewhat unnecessary, and are again equipped with their pros and cons, but can be deemed as necessary in the fast-paced world today.
Caffeine can be found naturally in seeds, nuts, and leaves in a number of plants native to Eastern
Asia and South America, and most infamously in coffee. Coffee beans, which are a member of the Coffea plant family, are the most famous natural source of caffeine. Coffee is made by steeping the beans, typically ground up, in a warm water – or a simple process called infusion.
When caffeine is received into the system, it is absorbed directly into the central nervous system – the brain and spinal cord immediately receive a jolt of energy, which causes that “pick me up feeling.” Caffeine has medical uses in bronchopulmonary dysplasia, which is primarily found in premature infants, as well treating apnea of prematurity in premature children. Caffeine is very famous for its metabolic boost, which can be used to reduce physical fatigue and to prevent drowsiness. Increased focuses, better body coordination, and generally improved thought-processing occur as a result. Effects usually start one hour after consumption, and a moderate dose will fade away after three or four hours following the start of the effects (let the product “Five Hour Energy” serve as an example – that is a very large boost. Coffee usually boosts for an hour or two). Caffeine can also serve as a cognitive enhancer, which can improve wakefulness, concentration, and food. Overall, caffeine serves as a very legal and controllable stimulant which is found in a variety of everyday products.
Caffeine also carries side effects. Long-term caffeine use can, and usually does, increase blood pressure and cause vasoconstriction. Constant consumption can lead to chronic arterial stiffness. Coffee, and other similar caffeinated drinks, can affect gastrointestinal motility and lower the amount of gastric acid secreted in the stomach. Caffeine also increases the basal metabolic rate, which is the rate at which energy is burned – a user of caffeine will require more input to successfully burn a calorie. Psychological effects also include anxiety, jitteriness, insomnia, reduced concentration, and addiction. Caffeine currently is not believed to increase the risk of congenital miscarriages, and is safe for pregnant to consume – in safe doses, of course. No more than 200 mg of caffeine is recommended a day for adults, with lower amounts for children 12 and under.
Nicotine is a member of the Alkaloid family, which function identical to opiates. However, nicotine is far weaker than any potent opiate, and only serves for a mild effect. Nicotine can be highly addictive, and is typically treated as a recreational drug in substances such as chewing tobaccos, cigarettes, electronic cigarette juice, and snuff/snus, among many more substances. Nicotine delivers a performance-enhancing effect on cognition, focus and being alert.
Nicotine’s primary medical use is as a therapeutic treatment for treating nicotine dependence in order to prevent users from smoking. Few medical uses have been found, and many adverse effects exist which challenge the exact usefulness of nicotine. Nicotine, in particular, is associated with cardiovascular disease, due to the increased blood pressure and heart rate upon delivery of nicotine. Cardiovascular disease typically leads to other effects, such as increasing and supporting clot formation and plaque formation, and cholesterol levels. Cardiovascular disease itself does not bring this on, but is spurred by cigarettes. Therefore, to anyone afflicted with a disease such as diabetes, cigarettes can be the lethal killer that causes things to move quickly. Different types of cancers are associated with nicotine as well; in particular, pancreas cancer is directly caused by nicotine, while lung cancer development is spurred on by smoking cigarettes and inhaling all the toxins form a cigarette. Nicotine also affects fetal development, as well; children with fetal nicotine exposure can be found with facial clefts, as well stunted physical growth and slow brain development. Nicotine poisoning also exists, which can be fatal at extremely high doses, but typically induce nausea and vomiting to stop the user from further intake.
Caffeine and nicotine are both plentiful in today’s constantly evolving world, so understanding how they work can be essential. Nicotine and caffeine allergies do exist and can be fatal, but are rare. These allergies are typically diagnosed within the first year of a newborns’ life. Nicotine and caffeine allergies are nowhere near as bad as say, peanut allergies – people who are allergic to caffeine and nicotine can be around caffeine and nicotine substances without having to worry about particles in the air. Only ingestion agitates the allergy.
There should be no question that nicotine is far less healthy than caffeine, and far more dangerous. Nicotine has nicotine poisoning, and while I have yet to find any detailed cases of caffeine overdose through quick google searching, it seems highly unlikely that a caffeine overdose could be a deadly thing. Caffeine is much more available, and seems to be much more safe than nicotine. Nicotine also seems to be primarily released upon combustion – only electronic cigarette juice and snus/snuff do not require the item to be combusted in order for nicotine to be released into a usable state.
Caffeine and nicotine are both highly addictive, and potentially dangerous drugs, so understand fully what’s in your drink or smoke before you enjoy it. But caffeine seems to be far less harmful than nicotine.