The question of how much nicotine is absorbed from a nicotine pouch and how much nicotine a nicotine pouch contains are two different questions.
On one hand, you have the nicotine that is actually absorbed into the blood when used and on the other, you have the nicotine that is in each pouch. And unlike what some people may think, they are not the same. To set the record straight, we will therefore answer the question on how much nicotine is absorbed from nicotine pouches.
But before we go into the details, let’s first sort out what nicotine pouches really are.
What are nicotine pouches?
Nicotine pouches are small white pouches intended to be used under the upper lip where they release nicotine. Nicotine pouches are often called a modern nicotine alternative due to the fact that they are free from tobacco, smoke-free, and offer a convenient and discreet way to get your nicotine fix.
Nicotine pouches contain plant fiber, flavorings, sweetener, nicotine, as well as a few additional ingredients. A nicotine pouch is normally used between 10 to 50 minutes, after which they are discarded.
Nicotine pouches have gained immense popularity in the recent years and is a relatively new product to the market. At the same time, nicotine pouches are essentially just a product development of traditional Swedish tobacco snus which has existed of centuries. But for nicotine pouches, the tobacco has been replaced with plant fiber.
Understanding Nicotine Pouches
Nicotine pouches are made from a combination of nicotine, flavorings, and plant-based fibers. They are available in various strengths and flavors, providing users with a customizable experience. Some of the key factors that influence nicotine absorption from pouches include:
- Nicotine Strength
- Duration of Use
- Individual Factors
Nicotine pouches come in a range of strengths, typically measured in milligrams (mg) of nicotine per pouch. At the same time, different brands use different ways of indicating the nicotine strength of their products. Some use a grading system from 1 to 4 or 1 to 5 and some may indicate the strength as mg/g. The most common, however, is to indicate the strength as mg per pouch as this gives the user the best understanding of the nicotine per use.
The amount of nicotine absorbed from a pouch depends on its strength, which can range from 2 mg to 20 mg per pouch, or more. Generally, higher-strength pouches deliver more nicotine to the bloodstream than lower-strength ones.
As discussed briefly earlier, the nicotine strength is not the same as how much nicotine is absorbed during use. In other words, not all of the nicotine in a pouch is absorbed during use, and there are several different factors that affect how much nicotine is absorbed.
Obviously, a stronger pouch will release more nicotine into the bloodstream, but the strength doesn’t affect how much of the total nicotine in the pouch is absorbed.
Duration of Use
The length of time a pouch is kept under the lip also influences the amount of nicotine absorbed. Most manufacturers recommend using a pouch for 20-30 minutes, during which nicotine is released slowly and steadily. Using a pouch for a longer duration will usually result in increased nicotine absorption, while shorter usage may lead to less absorption. In other words, the longer you use a nicotine pouch, the more of the total amount of nicotine in the pouch is absorbed.
Individual physiological factors, such as saliva production and pH levels in the mouth, can affect how much nicotine is absorbed from a pouch. These factors can vary from person to person, making it difficult to determine a precise amount of nicotine absorbed for every individual.
How Much Nicotine is absorbed from a nicotine pouch?
The fact of the matter is that the question as it is being asked, ”how much nicotine is absorbed from pouches?” cannot be answered. This is because there are several different factors that affect the total nicotine amount that is absorbed from a nicotine pouch depend on all the above factors. As such, there is no definite answer to the
If we, on the other hand, as the question ”How much of the nicotine is absorbed from a nicotine pouch”, we can answer it better, in other words, in terms of a rough percentage of how much of the total nicotine content is absorbed during use. But again, it will always be a rough estimate as it depends on the factors discussed above.
Fortunately, several studies have been conducted that have looked at this exact topic so let’s have a look at their findings:
In a study by The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), they stated that ”Pharmaco- kinetic studies show that at least half of the nicotine in the pouch can be absorbed” (source)
In the study, they go on to elaborate that ”Pharmacokinetic studies show that at least half of the nicotine in the pouch can be absorbed. Relevant nicotine blood levels are achieved, i.e. nicotine levels are within a range that is also achieved after consuming conventional ciga- rettes and some e-cigarettes. Use of high-dose products was observed to cause blood levels significantly higher compared with cigarette consumption. The rise in nicotine levels in blood was comparable with the rise following cigarette consumption, which suggests an addictive ef- fect from high-dose nicotine pouches comparable with that known for cigarettes.”
Moreover, the study references another study (Lunell et al. ) which showed that after sixty minutes of utilization, the body absorbs roughly half of the nicotine contained in the pouch. The bulk of the nicotine is absorbed directly through the oral mucosa, and some may be dissolved in saliva and subsequently swallowed. This portion can then be reabsorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. The study revealed varying nicotine extraction levels for two different snus samples, with a 19% extraction rate for an American product and 33% for a Swedish product. Some manufacturers of nicotine pouches and snus suggest a shorter application time of 20-30 minutes, which could indicate lower nicotine absorption. Nevertheless, snus pouches containing tobacco are frequently used for 60 minutes, and it is likely that this usage pattern will transfer to nicotine pouches.
In a different study by V&You, they found that you absorb approximately 30% of the nicotine available in a pouch after 30 minutes of use.
Furthermore, another study that looked specifically at tobacco snus and nicotine absorption had similar findings. This is despite the fact that nicotine pouches are a different product seeing that they do not contain tobacco. At the same time, nicotine pouches are used in the same way as tobacco snus, and therefore, similar effects can be expected. (source)
The findings indicate that the total nicotine content of the snus products affects both measurements. The absorption of nicotine, which is the highest in the product with the largest amount of nicotine, is ranked as follows: 2.5 grams of loose snus with 27.1 milligrams of nicotine > 1 gram of pouch snus with 14.7 milligrams of nicotine > 1 gram of loose snus with 10.8 milligrams of nicotine = 1 gram of pouch snus with 10.7 milligrams of nicotine > nicotine gum with 4.2 milligrams of nicotine.
The mean percentage of nicotine extracted was highest for the nicotine gum (63%) but only between 24% and 32% for the snus products, suggesting that nicotine in snus may be less bioavailable than in gum. In addition, data for the two different nicotine levels in the pouched snus products indicate that its relationship with absorption is not proportional.
The table below was summarized by The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and compiles the data from several different studies related to the nicotine absorption of nicotine pouches. The table shows very clearly the level of nicotine that is absorbed when using a nicotine pouch. As can be concluded, there is a difference between the total amount of nicotine in a nicotine pouch and the total amount of nicotine that is absorbed during use.
As can be concluded from the studies discussed above, the nicotine in a nicotine pouch and the total amount of nicotine absorbed during use are not the same. Studies found that on average, about 30% of the total nicotine in a nicotine pouch.
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