Caffeine and Nicotine: the Differences and Similarities

cigarette-coffeeFrom the perspective of phytochemicals, caffeine and nicotine can be considered as similar substances under the same group. Of course, they are classified based on their effects on the nervous system, rather than on their bitter flavor in common. Thanks for that, coffee, tea, and tobacco now has swept the world and will keep offering a daily hit to many addicts. Despite this, they actually are two different stimulants although they are often combined together for a greater pleasure.

Different natural source

As you have already known, nicotine can be found in tobacco. As a natural component of plants, actually it presents also in many fruits in the family Solanaceae, for example, tomatoes, goji berries, eggplants, and peppers. You might find this fact is quite startling, mightn’t you? All the mentioned fruits and herbs above have long been recognized to be beneficial to human.

Caffeine is a type of alkaloid found in many plants. The most commonly used caffeinated plants by humans are coffee beans, tea, and some cocoa. Besides, other less frequently used plants include Yerba mate and Guarana (Paullinia cupana), which are the main source of some well-known beverage and energy drinks. So, caffeine is also known as guaranine, mateine, theine, and the like.

Mechanism of addiction

Although they come from different sources, these two famous stimulants seem to resemble each other in many respects, especially the function. For that reason, as the two most common psychoactive substances they are often used together in order to increase alertness and concentration, which is also the basic bond between them. Here we are not going to explain in details how they produce enjoyment through impacting the dopamine system. But something should be emphasized is that caffeine and nicotine function through the nervous system. Apparently they are quite different from amphetamines and cocaine since amphetamines and cocaine directly act on the central nervous system.

Someone says that caffeine is the new version of nicotine, which makes sense to a certain extent. Although they influence human health differently, they share one thing in common – both of them are substance that is able to act on mental level. That’s to say, if you don’t pay attention to them you are very likely become their captive. Once you have strong psychological dependence towards them, you are a truly addict then and have difficult time to control the amount of intake.

Withdrawal symptoms

Both caffeine and nicotine are addictive. As long as you continue using them for enough long time, they will produce tolerance and dependence, with no exception. In comparison, cigarettes is more addictive than coffee. Given these facts, their withdrawal symptoms are also different.

If you are planning to quit caffeine, the withdrawal symptoms tend to occur 12 or 24 hours later and culminate within 24 or 48 hours. This scenario will last for about one week. The main withdrawal symptoms are headache and fatigue. But in each individual, the symptoms could also be anxiety, poor psychomotor cognitive performance, vomiting, thirst for caffeine, or even loss of joy to life, irritability, and depression.

Sudden lack of nicotine can lead to imbalance in internal circulation and endocrine imbalances, which is characterized by irritability, anxiety, impatience, palpitation, inability to concentrate, and even joint pain and stomach discomfort in severe cases.

Interaction between caffeine and nicotine

A lot of relevant studies have been conducted to determine the interaction between them when they are used together. Unfortunately, as of this writing no clear conclusion has been made. However, at least there is one thing that is sure – they mutually reinforce, which actually can be confirmed by sufficient evidence.

The research on rats determines that the intake of caffeine will increase the desire for nicotine and giving caffeine up will aggravate the nicotine withdrawal reaction. So, there is reason to believe that it is quite dangerous to quit smoking while continuing drinking coffee. This is simply because the absence of one stimulant is bound to make you desire the other more badly.

Overall, it is widely believed that caffeine and nicotine are closely related and enhance each other while used together, though they are different alkaloids found in different sources. Or, they won’t frequently appear together on so many works of literature and film. Last but not least, be sure to keep in mind that smoking is always harmful to your overall health while a daily dose of coffee can be benign. For example, reportedly caffeine helps burn fat.

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