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

Nicotine And Women

Smoking is a habit that does no one good. Even a single cigarette is harmful for the system. Women suffer from all the negative effects of smoking as men do. These include a higher risk of cancer including cancers of the lung, mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, kidney and bladder. Other smoking risks associated with the habit include all kinds of respiratory diseases. Women smokers are at a 12 times higher risk of dying from lung cancer and 10 times more likely to meet their death from bronchitis and emphysema.

Some of the specific risks that women face when they indulge are discussed below.


Women smokers have reduced fertility. A study showed that 38 percent of non smoking women conceived in their first cycle as against only 28 percent of those who did. A woman smoker is more likely (3.4 times more) to take more than a year to conceive.


Secondary amenorrhea (absence of menstruation or irregular menstruation) is a common issue that female smokers face. Vaginal discharge that is not regular and bleeding is also common. The toxic effect also leads to a quicker menopause than what would have been otherwise.


Lower levels of estrogen in women who smoke leads to early menopause! While estrogen replacement therapy helps, taking external hormones and smoking at the same time increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.


Smoking reduces the bone density and therefore increases the already high risk of osteoporosis in women. It was seen that women who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day lower their bone density by 5 to 10 percent. This reduction can lead to significantly higher chances of fractures.


Women who smoke through their pregnancy have children who are more susceptible to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The habit also leads to preterm delivery that can bring other issues related to it along with. Chances of low birth weight, placenta previa, miscarriage and neonatal death is also common. Smoking can also reduce the flow of blood to the fetus thereby reducing the amount of nutrients that reach it.

Oral contraception

The use of oral contraceptives along with smoking increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases in women by ten times. This smoking risk increases with age and is considerably higher in women above the age of 35.

Other smoking risks

Smoking risks include lung cancer to a large extent in women. It is estimated that about 68,000 women in the US die each year from the condition. The risk of cardiovascular diseases is three times higher in middle aged smoking women than in middle aged non smoking women, according to the American Heart Association. Skin related issues such as wrinkles and spotting are also known to appear in women who smoke. It also leads to yellow and stained teeth, bad breath, tartar deposits and tooth loss.

The best way of managing the issue of smoking is to ensure that you never really start. One way in which you can keep your teenager from smoking is to make her aware that you have a nicotine test at home that you can use anytime. Stay vigilant about telltale signs of smoking so as to prevent the habit from forming in the first place.

Teen Smoking

We all know that smoking is hazardous to health and yet we are also aware of the increasing number of teens who smoke cigarettes in our country. It is estimated that more than 3000 kids under the age of 18 start smoking every day. About a third of this number actually ends up becoming addicted smokers for life. Today the estimated number of adolescent smokers in the United States is more than 4.5 million.

Health Risks of Teen Smoking

While smoking is extremely unhealthy for everyone, the health risk associated with teens is higher. It is known that teens who smoke fall sick more often than teens that do not. Their lungs do not develop completely and they tend to have smaller lungs.

People who start smoking early in life are more prone to have a long term addiction and are also likely to get into alcohol or drug addiction. Those who smoke a pack a day have lives that are shorter by about 7 years on an average from other comparable teens.

The health risks of smoking are too many. Here are some of them:

– The sense of smell and taste of smokers is affected over time. This means that they cannot enjoy good tastes and smells over time.

– Smokers have low immunity and are more susceptible to various ailments including heart diseases and respiratory diseases. It is a common cause of throat and mouth cancer.

– Teen girls who smoke have a tough time becoming pregnant and they may also have painful periods. Teen boys who smoke are likely to have a lower sperm count.

– With narrowing of veins in hands and legs, circulation becomes an issue, something that in rare cases can even lead to gangrene and amputation.

– Cigarettes contain tar, hydrogen cyanide, benzene, acetone, formaldehyde, ammonia, carbon monoxide and nicotine, each one of which is like poison for the body.

– Other issues caused by smoking include bad hair, bad skin, bad breath, reduced lung power and slower healing to mention just a few.

Helping Kids Stay Away From Smoking

No one can help your kids from staying away from this habit better than you can. Here are some tips that you can use to ensure that your kids do not ever light up that first cigarette that leads to many more.

– Many teens start to smoke because they think it is cool and hip to do so. They also think that it will make them look older. It is important that you help your teen develop a positive attitude towards what s/he is so that the pressure of trying to fit in is not too high to lead to habits like smoking.

– Ensure that you have a chat with your child about smoking before s/he has a chance to get exposed to it. This means that it is never too soon for such a chat due to the high level of exposure that we have these days in media, schools and colleges about smoking, drugs and alcohol.

– Understand that sometimes it may be extremely difficult for your teen to say no. You need to discuss the various ways in which they can say no. Stock a tobacco test at home and ask them to cite that to their peers to avoid a puff.

– Discuss the portrayal of smoking in the movies and make sure to explain that it is not cool to hang a cigarette between the lips.

Using a tobacco test to ascertain whether your teen has been smoking on a regular basis can really have your teen thinking about whether s/he can afford to light that cigarette and take the risk. It is definitely better than allowing them to get addicted to the habit.

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!

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!

Nicotine Test As Part of the Great American Smokeout!

You may know as a reader of this blog that the Great American Smokeout is tomorrow. It’s an opportunity to give up smoking or plan to do so, and if you’re planning, to figure out how to do it – get rid of ashtrays, attend a class, prevent relapse by keeping a nicotine test or two around.

Some fast facts about from the American Cancer Society about smoking. Did you know…:

    This is the 34th Great American Smokeout?

    That smokers who quit at age 35 gain an average of eight years of life expectancy?

    That smokers who quit at 65 gain three years?

So it is never too late to quit smoking, nor is it an impossible task.

We welcome you to join us on twitter (we are HomeHealthTweet) with any of your comments about the Great American Smokeout, or if you have any questions about our nicotine test. It works like any home drug test we carry (check them out by clicking on the link) that requires a urine sample, and is just as easy to do and accurate. Quitting smoking is, as the American Cancer Society says, about commitment – and it is good to have as many tools by your side to make sure you stay the course once you choose to quit. There may be events going on in your area, or support groups springing up to help you make the choice to quit.

A tobacco test could be your best friend during the Great American Smokeout tomorrow and days hence! We wish everyone luck tomorrow with quitting and look forward to your comments and questions. If you wish to add a home nicotine test to your efforts, just click on the link and checkout as an anonymous guest or register with us. You can change the quantity from 5 to 10 pack, and choose how many of the chosen pack you would like at the shopping cart screen. We hope you find our nicotine test an effective way to keep committed to quitting – for good!