What is Nicotine?
Nicotine is a highly addictive chemical substance that is derived from certain specific plants belonging to the flowering nightshade plant family named Solanaceae which acts as a stimulant in tobacco containing products such as cigarettes, chews, cigar and snuff. It may also be found in small quantities in eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes and green peppers.
Picture 1 – Structure of Nicotine
Source – WhyFiles.org
Effects of Nicotine on the Body
As one smokes or takes a snuff, the nicotine in the substance reaches the bloodstream or the brain within a very short span of 5-7 seconds. The absorbtion of nicotine by the body depends on several factors, namely the type of tobacco inhaled or consumed, or the use of filter while smoking. However it has been found on analysis that the amount of nicotine absorbed by the body is much more in the case of chewing, dipping or snuffing tobacco rather than smoking cigarettes. Moreover mentholated cigarettes are found to increase the half-life of nicotine.
Picture 2 – Side-effects of Nicotine
Source – Wikipedia
The metabolites of nicotine that gets accumulated in the body fluids are nicotine isomethonium ion, nicotine glucuronide, nornicotine, nicotine N’-oxide, 2-hydroxynicotine and cotinine. Among these cotinine is the major metabolite affecting the body by giving rise to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms which make it the hardest of addictions to get rid of. Usually a cigarette is found to contain around 1 mg of nicotine which means that just a pack of cigarette contains around 20 mg of nicotine, enough to cause great harm to the body of a chain smoker by its excess accumulation. The most common symptoms of nicotine addiction are depression, gain of weight, impatience, irritation, slow rate of heart beat, difficulty in concentration, hostile attitude and anxiety. However, there are several ways as to detect nicotine in the body.
Nicotine Drug Test
In order to know the fact as to how long nicotine stays in your system, you need to remember the duration of smoking and the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Usually nicotine persists in the body for 2-4 days but in some cases it may also last for a few months. However, in the case of passive smoking the nicotine remains in the body for a long time. The presence of nicotine is usually detected in the urine, blood, and hair follicle through medical tests.
Urinal Drug Test
Inorder to find out the traces of nicotine in your body as well as to know how long does nicotine stay in urine, one needs to undergo a urinal drug test or urinalysis which is based on the immunoassay technology which detects the samples of such addictive products in urine. For those who smoke occasionally, nicotine persists in the body for only 3-4 days only. But for those who are passive smokers the traces of nicotine can be found for as long as 15-20 days.
In this test the urine of the person is collected in a specially designed sealed cup, which is tamper proof and sent to a drug testing laboratory. Then the urine is is splitted into aliquots and then screened under the immunoassay and the GC-MS process. Then the result is relayed to a Medical Review Office where it is carefully scrutinised by a medical expert. However, now there are several mechanisms to test the presence of drugs instantly with the help of urine drug testing kits.
Blood Test for Nicotine
The answer to the question as to how long does nicotine stay in your blood rests on the fact that it gets transformed into a metabolite called cotinine which mixes in the blood and affects the body. The liver slowly detoxifies the body by removing the toxins from the blood whereas the kidney flushes out the waste products out of the body in the form of urine and stool which takes place at a much faster pace. The blood tests can detect even the slightest traces of nicotine in the bloodstream.
Nicotine Hair Test
Although this test is expensive and not often recommended for employees, yet it is used for accurate analysis of the traces of nicotine in the body due to its ability to trace the presence of potentially toxic elements. The hair follicle test can be conducted even after 30-90 days of smoking or may even last a year. In this kind of test normally the hair on the head is taken for analysis but in cases of baldness, the hair belonging to the face, arms, armpits, legs or any other body parts can act as a substitute. This is a specialized test usually used when all other forms of tests are unsatisfactory.
Picture 3 – Cigarette
Source - abc.net.au
How to Effectively clear the Nicotine from the Body
There are several suggestions as to how to get rid of such addictives of the body.
- The best way to clean the body of the nicotine is to drink atleast 8-10 glasses of water per day as it facilitates the process of detoxification including the flushing out of the nicotine substances by the pacing up of the metabolic activities in the body.
- Secondly, fruits containing Vitamin C act as an efficient antioxidant which helps the body to get rid of toxins by metabolizing the drugs and flushing them out of the body.
- Thirdly, regular physical activities and rigorous exercise also helps the body to get rid of harmful products and helps to keep the body fit and healthy.
Hence, it is best to refrain from such addictive practices as it silently paralyses the normal functioning of the body. However the above mentioned ways to detect them helps parents can to keep a vigil on their children who are in the process of growth from resorting to such addictive practices.
Written by akshay
on October 2nd, 2010. The article was last updated on September 5th, 2011