The trend of nicotine consumption has taken a turn in recent years. With people seeking alternatives to traditional tobacco products, nicotine pouches have come into the spotlight.
The popularity of nicotine pouches have risen as a popular tobacco-free and smoke free alternative that offers a nicotine experience but without the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. As an oral nicotine product that is free from tobacco, it has created a new landscape in the world of nicotine consumption.
However, just like with any rising trend, there are a lot of people who have questions and are unsure about the implications of this product and what it is about. In this article, we aim to answer one specific question that is sometimes asked, namely: Can nicotine pouches affect your lungs?
Introduction to nicotine pouches
Nicotine Pouches are small, pre-packed pouches that are placed under the upper lip where they release a slow and steady dose of nicotine. The nicotine is absorbed via the mucous membrane and is therefore not smoked.
Nicotine pouches come in a wide selection of different flavors and nicotine strengths to cater to every taste and preference.
As a smoke-free and tobacco-free nicotine alternative, this product has been highlight as a potential alternative product that can work as a risk-reduction product and help people choose less harmful alternatives. Whilst more studies need to be conducted, it’s safe to say that nicotine pouches are considerably safer than smoking. For this reason, some countries have looked at this product in a positive light as an alternative product that can help reduce the rate of smokers in the country.
Since nicotine pouches are free from tobacco, are not smoked, and are used orally, the only question in regard to its impact on health is how nicotine affects the body. To tie back to the main question and purpose of this article, the answer becomes rather obvious: nicotine pouches do not affect the lungs. The reason is simple: it is not a product that is smoked or inhaled. For that reason, they cannot affect the links.
Understanding Nicotine and Its Effects
Nicotine is a stimulant that is naturally produced in the nightshade family of plants, most notably in the tobacco plant. It’s the main reason why tobacco and tobacco-based products are addictive. When nicotine enters the body, it stimulates the adrenal glands, leading to the release of adrenaline. This process induces an increase in heart rate, breathing activity, and blood pressure.
Nicotine pouches do not contain any tobacco leaves but the nicotine used is derived from the tobacco plant and then refined. Almost all nicotine pouches use nicotine salt. Nicotine salts represent an altered version of nicotine, produced through the fusion of freebase nicotine and an organic acid like lactic or benzoic acid. This fusion gives rise to a more stable compound with a diminished pH level, thereby enhancing absorption, refining the user experience, and extending its preservation period when contrasted with freebase nicotine. Owing to its ideal characteristics that perfectly align with the intended use of nicotine pouches, nicotine salt is the preferred choice of nicotine for manufacturers. The traits of nicotine salt are precisely the attributes desired for a product intended for oral use, such as nicotine pouches.
Effects of Nicotine on the Human Body
Nicotine can be absorbed in multiple ways depending on how it is consumed. With nicotine pouches, it is absorbed in a smoke-free manner via the mucous membrane. Via the oral mucous, it enters the bloodstream and travels to your brain where it binds to nicotine receptors and causes the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, which plays a significant role in mood and pleasure. This reaction is partly why nicotine is so addictive.
The two most common effects of nicotine is increased heart rate and blood pressure. Moreover, it can also affect your metabolism, appetite, and mood.
Nicotine’s Effects on the Lungs
When we talk about nicotine and its effects on the lungs, it is important to be very clear about the actual product that is used. Lots of studies have looked at the effects of the lungs of various nicotine products. For cigarettes, in particular, it’s undeniable that the impact and consequences on the lungs are profound. However, it’s important to note that it is not draw conclusions that it is the nicotine that has these effects because this is not the case. Instead, it is the fact that you inhale something that is not good to inhale. This is certainly the case with cigarettes but may also be the case with other types of nicotine products.
Since nicotine pouches are not inhaled in any way, there will be no impact on the lungs.
Nicotine Pouches vs. Traditional Tobacco Products
Nicotine pouches and traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars differ significantly in their composition and how they deliver nicotine to the body. Nicotine pouches, which synthetic nicotine extracted from tobacco, are placed under the upper lip where nicotine is slowly released and absorbed through the gum tissue. Since they are free from smoke and other harmful chemicals, it’s considered a very clean way to get your nicotine delivery. Amongst all nicotine alternatives on the market, nicotine pouches are therefore considered amongst the cleanest and less harmful options.
On the other hand, traditional tobacco products involve burning tobacco leaves, resulting in smoke that contains nicotine along with thousands of other chemicals, many of which are harmful or potentially carcinogenic. This smoke is inhaled into the lungs, allowing nicotine to be rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.
The inhalation of tobacco smoke has a direct, detrimental effect on the lungs. It can cause a range of respiratory issues, from chronic bronchitis to lung cancer. The smoke carries tar and toxic chemicals which can damage the delicate tissues of the lungs, cause inflammation and irritation, and over time lead to serious health conditions. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can cause the normal, healthy lung tissue to become less elastic and more fibrous, leading to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a debilitating condition with no known cure.
Nicotine Pouches and the Absence of Smoke Inhalation
Because nicotine pouches are used orally, they do not involve the process of burning or inhaling smoke. As such, they eliminate exposure to tar and other harmful byproducts of combustion present in traditional tobacco smoke. Naturally, this eliminates lung-specific issues that arise from direct inhalation of tobacco smoke.
At the same time, it’s worth pointing out that nicotine pouches still contain nicotine, which is an addictive substance.
The Health Effects of Nicotine
As we went into detail about in this article, it is a common misconception that nicotine is carcinogenic. This is not true. The reason why this is a common belief is the association between smoking and nicotine. But as a matter of fact, it is not the nicotine that is carcinogenic. Instead, it is the dozens of chemicals in cigarette smoke that are known to be carcinogens.
Nicotine, while not a carcinogenic component in tobacco, is a potent substance with effects on the human body. It is primarily known for its addictive qualities.
Beyond its addictive nature, nicotine has several other health effects. It is a stimulant, affecting the central nervous system and raising blood pressure, increasing heart rate, and stimulating the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline. This rush of adrenaline can elevate glucose levels in the bloodstream and increase respiration, all of which put additional stress on the body’s systems.
Some studies have found that nicotine’s stimulatory effects on the adrenal glands lead to the release of adrenaline, which in turn could accelerate respiration. In a sense, nicotine pouches could therefore affect the lungs, but not in the harmful way that smoking does.
Comparisons with Other Nicotine Products
When comparing nicotine pouches to other nicotine products, it’s clear that the method of nicotine delivery makes a significant difference. Traditional cigarettes, for instance, expose the lungs to a cocktail of harmful chemicals, many of which are known carcinogens. This exposure has been definitively linked to a range of serious lung conditions, including COPD and lung cancer.
Vaping, while often marketed as a safer alternative to smoking, also carries its own risks. The aerosols inhaled from e-cigarettes contain potentially harmful substances, and there have been cases of serious lung injury associated with vaping. This is why it’s important to distinguish vaping from nicotine pouches, albeit vaping has been concluded to be a less harmful alternatives than traditional cigarettes.
Nicotine pouches, by contrast, do not involve inhalation. This means they avoid many of the direct risks associated with smoking and vaping.