Medical Specialty >> Gastroenterology

Doctors Lounge - Gastroenterology Answers

Back to Gastroenterology Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 10/15/2017.

Forum Name: Liver Diseases

Question: Effects of "Pure" Nicotine

 Space Janitor - Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:56 am

Hi all,

I've been doing some research about the effects of nicotine on the mind and body administered in ways other than through cigarette smoking. There have been mounds and mounds of studies done on tobacco use through combustion and inhalation, and it's no secret that the risks are incredibly high in many ways by consuming tobacco like this. However, because of the strong (and rightly so) message from the anti-smoking lobby just to get people to stop, or not to start, smoking, sometimes the message is quite convoluted. Nicotine is the main active chemical which tobacco users crave, and indeed is what causes the addiction, however cigarettes contain thousands of other compounds and cancer-causing agents which are the primary reason that they are so unhealthy. Nicotine seems to be just another one of the "bad bunch" in there that has absolutely no benefit but to take lives.

But that doesn't really seem to be the case. Just from browsing Wikipedia articles and other information online, nicotine in its pure form, though toxic at high doses, seems to offer many benefits when administered through methods other than combustion, such as Nicorette stop-smoking patches.

There seems to be a real lack of knowledge about pure nicotine's effects on humans, and the few studies that I have looked at are mostly positive. It shows some protective effects against the onset of Alzheimer's disease, for example.

One thing I have noted is that nicotine is metabolized largely in the liver and kidneys. Not being a medical student at all myself, I am wondering whether the metabolization of this compound itself could have any negative effects? What causes damage to organs such as the liver and kidneys? Is it the large-volume metabolization of any compounds, or are some worse than others?

The reason I'm asking beyond pure curiosity is because I've begun occasionally using "snus", a type of steam-cured Swedish tobacco held in the mouth with no carcinogens and very low nitrosamines. I've never used cigarettes, I exercise and eat quite healthily, with no significant medical history in my family.

The obvious answer of many would be simply not to use any form of tobacco unless one is already addicted to it, but used occasionally (a "snuff" every few days), and produced in a very safe manner, it seems that the only health concern with this product is the effect of nicotine on the system and the potential for addiction.

What do you think?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Thu Feb 05, 2009 10:05 pm

User avatar Hello -

You've done extensive research and you know the facts such as they are. You know nicotine is, in itself, addictive, and I'm sure you also know because of your having done extensive research, that nicotine serves to increase heart rate and blood pressure, not only during use but also over time, which may set it apart from caffeine as a problem stimulant. Further, you must have noted the conncection between nicotine and possible pancreatic disease, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Since you're as well informed on the subject and aware of the controversy surrounding this form of tobacco, and since you've made an informed decision, there's really nothing to be added to the knowlege base you've accumulated. I'm not going to advocate use of anything with a potential for harm, and can only repeat back the information you've listed here. I'm not sure whether your're looking for an advocate to support your decision to use this substance, but you're equipped with all the available information, so your decision is yours and so is the responsibility for any potential consequences.

That's what I think, anyway.
 AilingBlackLab - Fri Sep 04, 2009 7:57 am

"snus", a type of steam-cured Swedish tobacco held in the mouth with no carcinogens and very low nitrosamines.

I'll play devils advocate here and state (without having any facts) , that I'd bet my bottom dollar ,if the manufacturer backed up this claim in writing that the product was "Scientificly evaluated" and was proven void of carcinogens, that the manufacturer paid for that study, and had a pre-determined outcome,that being void of anything but Nicotine.
Take a step back and wrap your mind around this idea....If they were able to eliminate all toxic compounds other than nicotine, then why not go the extra mile and eliminate the nicotine?
They aren't looking to sell you a product to offer any benefit. They are looking to sell you a product you will become addicted to, thus guaranteeing them your future buisness...they are not worried that you will find alternative sources for nicotine, because they played on your fear of the side effects of all the possible other sources.

The minds of the most brilliant people in the world suffer from the same cognitive errors that the rest of us do, and one major cognitive error is to focus only on the positive. Once the mind compiles enough positive data on a subject it then begins to discount the negative, now matter how glareing a single negative might be.

A few negatives for you extracted from

Ocular side effects including vision problems reported in at least two patients have been associated with the use of the nicotine gums.

Endocrine side effects have included hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance during the long-term use of nicotine gum.

Hematologic side effects have included increases in platelet aggregation and enhanced thrombus formation.

While they pertain to nicotine gum you would be recieving nicotine via the same delivery method, hence it would be logical to assume the same side effects could occur.

Why wouldn't the manufacturer inform you of these possibilitys? Because it's not in their best interest to tell you something bad can happen from using their product...They want you as a customer.

If they quoted a doctor as saying it's free of carcinogens, first off how much did they pay him to say that ?(No Doctor would bang down the door of a company to endorse their product, they must be courted and in some fashion persuaded to do so.) Maybe the Doctor is on the board of directors of the manufacturer? Maybe he developed it and has reduced many of the risks associated with tobacco?
If they attempted to market it as a stop smoking aid they would have to tell you of the possible side effects assosiated with nicotine,if they wanted it available in the U.S. market, but since they are marketing it the same way RedMan, Skoal and anyother chewing tobacco is ,all they have to tell you is that it contains nicotine.

Use your head man! Don't only look at the positives....If it could help stem the tide of alzheimers, I'm quite sure Neurologists the world over would be testing this , as it can easily be extracted in its pure form. If these tests are ongoing , why not wait for them to come to some conclusions as to an effective dose or delivery method?

It would really suck if the proper dose to be effective to combat alzheimers , turned out to cause insulin resistant diabetese or a pulmonary embolisim from a blood clot caused by increased platelet count, and put you in your death bed long before alzheimers could even develop now wouldn't it?

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us