When discussing the effects of nicotine, you probably aren’t thinking about the neurochemical processes at work. Rather, you’re probably more focused on that stress-relieving buzz that helps soothe your tension and makes you feel better.
But why does this happen? When you use nicotine, it can change how your brain processes things. Let’s take a closer look at how nicotine affects the brain and why that matters to you as a nicotine consumer.
How Nicotine Works in the Brain
Whether you take a puff on a cigarette or use one of our NIIN Primed Pouches, your body’s reaction to nicotine is almost instantaneous. Within just 10 seconds, nicotine will have entered your bloodstream and made it all the way to your brain. Once there, it starts working in several ways.
The first thing nicotine does is begin to bind to receptors in the brain. Called nicotinic receptors, these are areas that help brain cells communicate with each other. Usually, these receptors are stimulated by a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which is found naturally in your body. However, nicotine is similar enough to acetylcholine that it binds to the receptors as well.
When nicotine binds to nicotinic receptors, it causes your body to produce more of several hormones, neurotransmitters, and proteins. The first reaction will be an increase in a hormone called epinephrine. This is actually your fight or flight hormone, so it makes your sympathetic nervous system kick into gear. Your breathing will quicken, your heart rate will increase, and you’ll feel alert and ready for action.
After the epinephrine floods your body and leads to some of nicotine’s body buzz, your brain will then likely release another neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine produces feelings of pleasure, making it feel like you’re being rewarded. This is why that first puff or first few minutes of using a nicotine pouch often feel so good.
Another feel-good chemical your brain releases after nicotine exposure is endorphins. You may be familiar with endorphins if you exercise a lot. These small proteins act as a painkiller in the body, helping to reduce aches and pains. In many cases, an overload of endorphins can even feel euphoric.
Finally, the nicotine in your brain will stimulate the release of one more neurotransmitter — glutamate. Glutamate’s job in the brain is to strengthen connections between brain cells, which is part of how you form strong memories. With increased glutamate in your system, you’ll likely have good memories of the times you used nicotine.
The Cognitive Benefits of Using Nicotine
With all of these things happening at once inside your brain, how does it all affect your cognition? As you may have experienced, nicotine has some pretty great short-term effects. The epinephrine your brain releases can help you feel laser focused and revived. It may be easier to calculate on mentally challenging tasks because your body has heightened awareness and reaction times.
With additional dopamine and endorphins, your mood will also likely improve. You’ll feel better mentally and may be more productive because of it. What previously seemed like an arduous, mind-numbing task may be easier to accomplish.
Finally, with more glutamate, your memory may improve slightly while using nicotine. Things you do or learn while using nicotine may become deeply imprinted into your brain.
These are all great short-term effects, but things change a little if you become a habitual nicotine user. As you use more and more nicotine, your brain will develop more and more nicotinic receptors in response. Eventually, you’ll need higher doses of nicotine to keep these receptors satisfied. This is what leads to withdrawal and cravings, especially if you try to quit.
Enjoy the Effects of Nicotine Without the Tobacco
In summary, nicotine can have a lot of positive short-term cognitive effects. You’ll feel sharper, more alert, and be able to remember more. That said, you’ll want to be careful not to use too much too frequently, or it could result in long-term and long-lasting changes in brain chemistry.
Whenever you do use nicotine, make sure you’re using a product that is keeping your well-being in mind. One such product is our tobacco-free NIIN Pouches. Tobacco — whether it’s the leaf, stem, or other byproducts — is a known carcinogen that can cause a number of serious health problems. That’s why we use only synthetic nicotine in our pouches.
Synthetic nicotine has the same exact chemical structure of tobacco, but it’s entirely lab-created, meaning it doesn’t use any part of the tobacco plant. The result is a 100% pure formula that offers you a clean, potent nicotine buzz. It’s what we like to call a world beyond the tobacco leaf.
Want to learn more? Check out our frequently asked questions on nicotine pouches, or browse our online store to see which of our five flavors might best meet your needs.
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