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Nicotin, nikotin, (-) -nikotin , 1-methyl-2(3-pyridyl)pyrrolidineAmphetamines with a pyrrolidine group.,
Substance type: pyrrolidineAmphetamines with a pyrrolidine group. alkaloid, pyridine alkaloid,
Nicotine was first discovered in tobacco (Nicotiana
tabacum) and was named for the genus. It
occurs in numerous species of Nicotiana as well as
other members of the Nightshade Family. It has
also been found in club moss (Lycopodium
Nicotine is very easily absorbed through the
mucous membranes and even through the skin.
Consequently, plants that contain nicotine can be
smoked or administered as enemas. Nicotine is
broken down through oxidation, and about 100/0 is
excreted unchanged. It has stimulating effects
upon the central nervous system and has paralyzing
effects at very high dosages (cf. cytisine). In
the peripheral nervous system, nicotine behaves in
a similar manner as the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
High dosages can result in sudden death
due to respiratory paralysis or cardiac arrest
within five minutes of ingestion (Roth et al. 1994,
864*). From 40 to 60 mg represents a lethal dosage
for humans (Frerichs, Arends, Zarnig, Hagers
Handbuch). Diazepam can be effective as an
antidote for nicotine poisoning (Roth et al. 1994,
865*). Nicotine is now generally regarded as
highly "addictive" (Schiffman 1981). Although it is
commonly assumed that nicotine causes cancer,
uncertainty has been expressed about this theory
Nicotine has been detected in Egyptian rnummies
(New Kingdom) (Balabanova et al. 1992*).
However, this discovery should not be taken as
evidence that the Egyptians knew of wild tobacco
(Nicotiana rustica) , as the Balabanova team in
Munich has suggested, for some Old World plants
also contain nicotine (see the table at right).
Commercial Forms and Regulations
Nicotine can be obtained in its pure form from
chemical suppliers. It is subject to the laws
covering the transport of dangerous substances
and is classified as a Category 1 substance on the
Swiss Poison List. In the United States, pure
nicotine is available only with a prescription (Ott
1993, 447*). In Germany, it is subject to the laws
regarding dangerous substances but is notregarded as a "narcotic."
|Plants Containing Nicotine
(from Bock 1994,93*; Rampp 1995,2995*;
Schultes and Raffauf 1991, 37*; supplemented)
See also the entries for Nicotiana rustica, Nicotiana
tabacum, and Nicotiana spp.
Lee, Richard S., and Mary Price Lee. 1994. Caffeine
and nicotine. New York: The Rosen Publishing
Schievelbein, H. 1972. Biochemischer
Wirkungsmechanismus des Nikotins oder seiner
Abbauprodukte hinsichtlich eines eventuellen
carcinogenen, mutagenen oder teratogenen
Effektes. Planta Medica 22:293-305.
Shiffman, Saul. 1981. Tabakkonsum und
Nikotinabhangigkeit. In Rausch und Realitiit, ed.
G. Volger, 2:780-83. Cologne: RautenstrauchJoest-Museum fur Volkerkunde.