Nicotine Self-Test

I received the following account from a reader, reprinted with permission.

My Nicotine Self-Test

Having never used tobacco or nicotine products before, purely for my own edification, yesterday afternoon I went down to Walmart and bought a $5 pack of 2 mg (the smallest dose) nicotine chewing gum, purely to see what all the buzz (if any) was about.

1.  I started chewing on one chicklet at about 6:00 P.M..

2.  For the first 20 minutes or so I noticed … nothing.

3.  After that I started to feel really warm.  The house was at ~68 but it felt like 78-80.  I opened my shirt as a started to perspire a little.  Don’t know if this was just sensation or due to actual increase in metabolism.

4.  I also started to feel a twinge of nausea.  Nothing really bad or anything, but enough to cause a complete loss of appetite.  This was significant as it was dinner time and I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch.  It was also unfortunate timing as my wife was in the process of making a big batch of shortribs for dinner.  Luckily after nibbling on a few I regained my appetite.

5.  I did not notice any subjective change in mental state, awareness or focus.

6.  I went to bed around 9:30.  Around 10:30 I awoke with a painful muscle cramp that I had occasionally experienced in the past during sleep, but not for at least a year and not since switching to magnesium citrate.  Could be coincidence or maybe not.

Overall it was not a pleasant experience.

#3 and 4 could certainly be relevant to weight loss.

I understand the initial pharmacokinetics for gum, which drains through the portal system into the liver and hence takes many minutes, are entirely different from inhalation, which provides nicotine to the brain in a manner of seconds allowing the user to titrate their dose.  But overall it was an interesting experiment.

My comments

Interesting experiment for an adult, nicotine-naive man to give that a try.

I believe a correction is needed here on the pharmacokinetics of nicotine gum. Since it’s not absorbed from the intestines, it doesn’t go through the liver – the so-called “first pass effect”. It’s absorbed through the oral mucosa, which is why, aside from making you ill, tobacco isn’t eaten. By being absorbed through oral mucosa, it bypasses the detoxifying mechanism of the liver and goes straight into the bloodstream, thence to the brain.

Note the complete loss of appetite. Some, maybe even much, of the obesity epidemic is due to less smoking. One of the reasons for the spurious results some researchers have obtained between BMI and mortality is because smokers have a lower BMI, and smoking causes illness, more than enough to offset the effects of a lower BMI.

Nicotine by itself is relatively harmless, and may in fact be a net benefit. It’s the combustion products of smoking that cause damage.

You can see why nicotine is an attractive drug for many people.


Check out our Supplements Buying Guide for Men. (No nicotine gum there however.)

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Leave a Comment:

Tuba says March 24, 2016

I am totally ignorant of the subject having reached 65 without ever smoking. However everyone in my family did. I have heard many folks say that when they stopped smoking they gained weight, and, I have known folks who would not diet without smoking saying it helped them take off weight. Nicotine is also reducing clotting thus older folks who quite smoking often have a heart attack within a few weeks to a few months. Also there is the thought that many of the several thousand additives to smoking tobacco is what is bad for you more than natural tobacco. Indeed, you can buy “ceremonial” tobacco in health food stores that is 1) organic and 2) have no additives. Nicotine might actually be a useful drug in it’s pure form and administered without fire and smoke and additives.

Murray says March 24, 2016

I tried nicotine gum when I was on a business trip recently, to deal with the several-hour period when I wouldn’t be able to vape. It worked well enough in dealing with my mild nicotine withdrawal, and I’ll certainly pack some for our summer flight to Australia, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a regular thing. I also note the instructions, which say NOT to chew it like regular gum at first, but to crack it with your teeth then place it, snus-like, under your upper lip.

I started on snus as self-experimentation back in 2009 or so as a result, I think, of Dennis’s experience as recounted back on the old Miscellany blog. It was the awful Camel-brand flavored snus, though I quickly moved to the Swedish stuff after that. In any case, the first thing I noticed was light-headedness, followed shortly by the complete disappearance of a nagging headache (I was visiting a very noisy sheet-metal shop, doing work on their production floor). It also seemed to improve my general outlook that day, which was pretty grumpy.

As with coffee, I no longer notice specific effects from using nicotine (heightened alertness, etc.), though that doesn’t mean they’re not present. I enjoy vaping for the flavor, the nicotine hit (I use a mild 6mg/ml concentration), and the appetite suppression, which led to near-immediate 12-15 lb weight loss for both my wife and myself, as I wrote in a previous comment.

In other words, the effects really seem to depend on the delivery system. The lungs appear to give the most bang for the buck, but require more frequent hits.

Cloudswrest says March 24, 2016

“Hawaiian Libertarian” has a number of articles on tobacco use. One very interesting one is regarding evidence that an abrupt cessation of smoking among long time smokers can actually bring on lung cancer. Here:

David Nystrom says March 25, 2016

I trained myself how to smoke cigarettes in my mid-20s (never smoked once younger) in order to make it easier to pick up girls at bars. Enjoyed the buzz, but hated everything else about it–especially the smell. Never felt a craving for a cigarette, it always felt like a chore. The biggest plus (besides making it easier to pick up loose women–if she’s a smoker you can poke ‘er) is that conversing (and more) with smokers became less disgusting.

Around the time I turned 30 I had done enough research to conclude that tobacco was basically harmless if consumed as vapor or in the form of Swedish snus. My natural contrarian, rebellious instincts kicked in and I tried Swedish snus. If society says something is bad for me I want in. I concluded at age 20 without any exposure to paleo/LCHF literature that bacon and butter must be good for me (I didn’t at that time yet make the leap that grains were bad however–that took research). This was before anyone knew who Mark Sisson was, although Atkins had already peaked by then.

I liked it a lot, though initially it was too intense–I could only keep a pouch in my lip for a few minutes. That changed after habitual usage. It produces a very pleasant buzz and increases focus. The focus is not calming–my heart rate elevates somewhat. There is a very good synergy with coffee (the flavors pair very well) and also with alcohol (surprise). Throw l-theanine and modafinil into the mix and it is a very powerful recipe for productivity.

Snus may be harmless to your overall health, but I don’t believe it’s harmless to your dental health. Tobacco is still acrid. Heavy snus usage results in lip soreness and dental sensitivity. As such I reduced my usage, and I plan to replace it with vapor tobacco.

Still have never felt a craving anything like the addiction smokers report. Unsure if it’s just me or if the remaining smoker population consists of weaklings. After all, the rest of the population had no trouble quitting.

I haven’t noticed any impact on my appetite, but that could be simply because I eat LCHF and IF every day (I almost never eat dinner) and am very lean (six feet tall, 140 pounds, 29 inch waist).

To anyone who is reading, don’t try the “snus” from Camel or other Big Tobacco companies. It’s a scam intended to sell more cigarettes. The snus from Big Tobacco contains relatively little free nicotine. The real purpose of it is to increase the desire for cigarettes by giving smokers a half-assed crutch to used indoors where they can’t smoke.

Ironthumb says March 25, 2016

I now Vape and glad to say that it has been wonderful. I used to smoke a pack a day for the benefit of nicotine. Glad to say that the coughs caused by cilia regen has gone away now.
But strangely I have tried a few sticks recently, but I noticed that analog cigs now bore me to death and I don’t enjoy them anymore like I used to.

Anyways about chewing tobacco,. if you are into chewing tobacco try the Filipino Buyo, it is made of betell, lime, and tobacco

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