Nicotine, a chemical most commonly found in the plants of the Solanaceae family, is an alkaloid and is found accumulated in the leaves of these plants, though the biosynthesis of this chemical occurs in the roots of the plants.
Nicotine is one of the major components of addictive plants like tobacco (0.6%-3.0%) and is the reason behind their addiction in humans due to its psychoactive nature.
The follow are interesting facts about nicotine.
The name nicotine comes from the scientific name of the tobacco plant Nicotiana tabacum. The scientific name of the tobacco plant is itself named the French ambassador to Portugal Jean Nicot de Villemain. Villeman is credited for sending tobacco seeds and plant saplings to Paris in 1560 for its use in medicinal purposes.
Nicotine was first extracted from the tobacco plant by German physician Dr. Wilhelm Heinrich Posselt and chemist Karl Ludwig Reimann in 1828. After its discovery Posselt and Reimann labelled it as a poison. In fact nicotine is an antiherbivore chemical, which causes addiction when consumed in small amounts (1mg or less) and death if taken in high amounts (30mg-60mg).
3. Nicotine addiction
Our central nervous system has certain nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Nicotine binds to several of these and increases the amount of several neurotransmitters. Among these neurotransmitters dopamine is one such neurotransmitter which is significantly increased during nicotine use and is responsible for the sense of euphoria and relaxation caused by the use of tobacco (nicotine) products.