What Do Caffeine and Nicotine Have in Common?

(Ever thought while enjoying your morning coffee that you were sipping a giant ashtray? Well, don’t worry, you’re not! But caffeine and nicotine do have a lot in common).

Photo by Julius Schorzman

Photo by Julius Schorzman

What do caffeine and nicotine have in common?  The science stuff:  Both are alkaloids and derived from plants and natural anti-herbivore chemicals. Both readily cross the blood brain barrier that separates the blood stream from the interior of the brain. The basics:  Both caffeine and nicotine are stimulants.  Both increase alertness and concentration and are addictive…but you knew that, didn’t you?


Caffeine is found in beans, leaves and the fruit of some plants. Basically, it acts as a natural pesticide in plants, where it paralyzes or kills insects that feed on the plant. In humans, however, it acts as a stimulant. The most common means of caffeine consumption by humans is beverages prepared from coffee beans and tea leaves. It is also present in various foods and beverages prepared from the kola nut. Other natural sources include plants of species of holly and guarana.

As a central nervous system stimulant, caffeine restores wakefulness by warding off drowsiness, the primary reason for the popularity of coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks. Regular consumption often leads to tolerance. In people who are not tolerant to caffeine it increases the flow of urine when administered in sufficient quantities.

Caffeine is a metabolic stimulant commonly used recreationally…that may sound like a strange way to describe such a common part of our lives, but it’s true. It is also used medically to reduce fatigue. It is absorbed quickly, within 45 minutes, by the stomach and intestines and then transported throughout the body. Caffeine crosses the blood-brain barrier easily and works as a non-selective agonist and combines with adenosine receptors on the surface of cells. Adenosine is a functional nucleotide that is found in every part of the body and plays a significant role in metabolism and is necessary for RNA synthesis.

Once inside the body, caffeine starts having its effect within 30 minutes and when taken in mild quantities, the effect wears off in three to four hours. There is only a temporary reduction in feeling of tiredness and as such, it is an effective external aid for enhancing performance. However, though you might try, it does not obviate the need to sleep.

Caffeine works to increase the number of adenosine receptors in the body, which makes users much more sensitive to adenosine. This results in tolerance or substantial reduction in its effectiveness as a stimulant. At the same time, cessation of caffeine leads to withdrawal symptoms.


Nicotine is found in the nightshade family of plants. As an anti-herbivore chemical, specifically for insects, it was widely used as a natural insecticide. The most common source of nicotine delivery is through tobacco in various forms  smoking, chewing and taken in the nose.

Nicotine inhaled while smoking a cigarette reaches the brain within seven seconds through the bloodstream after crossing the blood brain barrier. The amount of nicotine released in the body depends largely on the type of tobacco and the manner in which it is used. Chewing tobacco or holding tobacco between lip and gum or tobacco taken through the nose delivers a much greater amount of nicotine than cigarette smoking.

Cigarette smoking works as a stimulant as well as a relaxant. Nicotine delivered by smoking or chewing tobacco causes the liver to release glucose and the adrenal medulla to release epinephrine. In the brain, it stimulates the release of numerous chemical messengers including endorphin, the body’s natural analgesic. Apparently, smoking enhances concentration and memory and the analgesic effect of endorphin reduces pain.

The biggest negative effect of smoking or chewing tobacco is dependence and withdrawal. It is at least as addictive as cocaine and heroin. Nicotine dependence is actually the hardest addiction to break. The carcinogenic properties of nicotine have not been properly evaluated but those of cigarette smoking have been well researched. Nicotine does not appear in the group of carcinogens but it increases cholinergic activity, which can potentially lead to cancer. Smoking and the consequent release of carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke, on the other hand, is known to directly cause cancer.

Most surprising of all though, is that nicotine and caffeine have in common that they are natural pesticides! That such common items in our lives contain what could be effective pesticides is in my opinion quite fascinating.

(And by the way, you can check out our nicotine test by clicking on the link.  We do not sell or even think there exists a caffeine test at this time!).

Anne Hamilton

Cigarette Companies – Still Not Playing By The Rules?

The NY Times today covers an interesting advertising campaign on the part of Camel that is raising eyebrows.  Roni Caryn Rabin writes:

Though R.J. Reynolds, the company that makes the cigarettes, pulled the ads in 2008, a new study says they had a big effect on teenage girls. The ads bore a striking resemblance to fashion spreads and ran in women’s magazines like Glamour and US Weekly, which are popular among teenagers. They offered promotional giveaway items like berry lip balm – and cellphone jewelry.


While the ad campaign was going on in 2007 and 2008, 44 percent of teenage girls said they had a favorite cigarette ad – up from less than one-third in 2003. Those who said Camel was their favorite ad doubled, from 10 to 13 percent to 21.5 percent, even while Marlboro’s popularity held steady.

“There was no such increase in brand awareness among boys, which strongly suggests it was the Camel No. 9 brand — the girl brand — that did it,” said Dr. Cheryl G. Healton, president of the American Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing youngsters from smoking and one of the authors of the paper.

Camel seems to be pushing the maxim “any publicity is good publicity” here.  They are explicitly not allowed to target youth, and of course in the US people under the age of 18 are not allowed to purchase cigarettes.  But tempting youngsters is a tempting prospect to the giant corporations – why not corner a new market?  As the study above suggests, that is exactly what Camel did – to 174,000 girls under the age of 18.

For parents, this signals business as usual from cigarette companies.  As always, vigilance is required.  If you want to know for sure that your child is not smoking cigarettes, purchase an inexpensive nicotine test and you will be able to find out.  Even as restrictions tighten, cigarette companies seem to have little trouble finding ways to broaden their consumer base.

Tobacco Tests Deal With The Chronic Disease That Is Smoking

The Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAAPA) has put out an article on tobacco dependency, which they write is now considered a “chronic disease.”  This is a great advance in that it tells the world to get serious about quitting smoking – it is a disease and addiction like any other, no matter how legal it may be.  Their article is a guide to intervening in tobacco addiction, especially interesting to the average person because it is from a clinician’s perspective.  And believe me, they are very tough about quitting!

Their keys to quitting include keeping tabs on every tobacco user that enters the office and adding “tobacco use” to the vital signs of a healthcare chart.  Tobacco use is to be incorporated into most health advice, and assessments are to be made at every visit – is so and so willing to quit?  It is also really important that quitting be seen as a group effort, as opposed to an individual struggle.  To quote from the article:

Assist Aid the patient’s efforts to quit by providing counseling and pharmacotherapy. Clinicians should guide the patient’s preparations for quitting, such as have the patient set a quit date; have the patient tell family, friends, and coworkers about the quit attempt and request support; tell the patient to anticipate challenges, including nicotine withdrawal symptoms; and have the patient remove tobacco products from the environment. The use of effective medications should be recommended to those patients  who may need them. Appropriate medications can reduce withdrawal symptoms and increase chances of quitting success.

We believe that among the many uses of our tobacco test, creating an evaluative environment is one of them.  The test can be used or not used by the person trying to quit, or family and friends around them – but its presence in the home is a way of keeping someone honest.  As the article states, smoking is a chronic disease, and there are many cases in which one might want to give it their all to get someone they know to quit smoking.

The article has all sorts of great considerations that can help you shape a serious effort to be a tobacco quitter or be someone who helps someone who is quitting.  With help, focus, concentration, and nicotine tests, people can quit smoking.  It’s one area in which you definitely, definitely want to be a quitter!

Are You Keeping Your Resolution? How to Quit Smoking

Stop smoking hypnosisEveryone knows that smoking is extremely harmful for one’s health and the government has done a lot to create awareness of the various problems that smoking can cause. The issue is not with creating awareness about the negative effects of smoking but actually quitting. The New Year is an excellent time to see how this is true because there are thousands of smokers who resolve to quit smoking only to find that they are itching to hold a cigarette in their hands after a few hours of the resolution. A nicotine test, among other methods, is a great way to give up the habit for good.

If you try and ask advice of smokers who have successfully quit smoking for good, you shall find that there are as many suggestions as smokers. While you can review each one of these methods, you will have to check out the one that works best for you. Make sure that you continuously use tobacco testing at home so that you can be aware of the presence of nicotine in your body. Awareness of the pervasiveness of nicotine in your body with these nicotine tests may actually shake you out of your inertia.

Such testing can be done at home very easily. All that you need is a small sample of urine. The tobacco test checks out the level of cotinine in the urine. This is a by-product of nicotine that is processed in your body and excreted through the urine. This is why the nicotine test is also called the cotinine test at times.

Some of the methods that you can adopt to quit smoking have been listed below. These can be used as standalone options or in combination to ensure that you are able to successfully quit the habit. While you work with these methods, use the tobacco test as well.

– Just quit – Some people believe that a slow reduction in the number of cigarettes is not an option but that a cold turkey method should be adopted.

– Reduction over time – This is a method that can help if you have specific times when you reach out for a cigarette and want to slowly eliminate those rituals as days pass. Use a nicotine test when you finally have not smoked for a few days. This can be a great motivator because you can see how your body is actually getting cleansed – you will see after 2 to 4 days that you actually test negative for nicotine!

– Quit with a friend – This is another method that works because it creates a sense of competition and/or cooperation.

There are other methods like nicotine patches, nicotine chewing gums, nicotine lozenges and nicotine inhalers that you can use. Whichever choice you make, everyone wishes you the best of luck in quitting smoking!  As a company that specializes in the home drug test, we know of a lot of drugs out there, and nicotine certainly is hard to quit!  That’s why we have a test designed along those lines to help you with that legal but addictive substance.

Anne Hamilton

New Articles Available on the Main Site

Hi everyone!  Did you know we’ve been very busy at Home Health Testing providing new and clear information on our line of home drug and home health tests?  Yes, it’s true!  Take a look at some of our longer articles, put on the main site due to their size.  If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or contact us!

Business Solutions – The Hair Drug Test

Home Drug Test Instantly With Saliva Tests

Why Home Drug Testing Can Help Solve The Prescription Drug Abuse Problem

Home HIV Test – 5 Good Reasons Why You Should Take One

Home Thyroid Test – 3 Reasons to Take One (also published on ezinearticles as 3 Reasons to Take a Home Thyroid Test)

Nicotine Tests and Insurance Policies

If you don’t see the topic you would like to know more about, let us know!

Nicotine Test – Top 5 Reasons to Buy

Have you ever thought of purchasing a tobacco test? You know, an easy to use urine drug test that allows you to figure out if cotinine is still in your system? Here are the top 5 reasons why this might be a good idea for you:

1. You will learn what cotinine is. Cotinine is a metabolite of nicotine, and when you purchase a nicotine test, that is what you are testing for in urine. Cotinine can still be detected in urine up to 2 to 4 days after the last tobacco use. And indeed, as wikipedia states, it is an anagram of nicotine. So that is one fun fact about the nicotine test already!

2. It is really, really easy to use. Just like any other urine-based home drug test, the nicotine test uses a very simple procedure. Just collect a urine sample and use the included dropper to put a few drops of urine on the cassette (see the full nicotine test instructions for details). You will have your results in all of five minutes!

3. Nicotine tests are an increasingly popular form of screening among insurance companies and employers. The days of 50s chain-smoking live on only in Mad Men. Insurance companies are keen to know who smokes and thus has higher risk factors for a number of conditions, and employers who provide health insurance want to know as well. A recent story about someone who lost their job because of a nicotine test highlights the issue, as does this blog article on smoking.

4. It is extremely accurate. Nicotine tests are very, very good at detecting tobacco use of all kinds – cigar smoke, cigarette smoke, chewing tobacco. They are FDA approved and 99% accurate. They can also detect very very small amounts of cotinine in urine – the tests we sell meet the standard cutoff level of 200 ng/ml.

5. It will help you quit. When you quit a habit like smoking, it is good to set goals and have a plan. You may want someone else to monitor your progress, or you may want to use them to monitor someone else’s progress. Will you be gratified when you take one of these tests and see that your test comes back negative for cotinine – that your body is clean? We think so.

There are many reasons to be interested in this particular home drug test, but these are your top 5 for today!