In the early 1500’s, the Portuguese conquistadors that stumbled upon the shores of South America brought home a strange leaf to their French King that was intended to be smoked (1). It was not until many years later that the science behind this strange leaf revealed its actual effects on the body and mind. In that time, those who used it only knew that it sometimes provided a stimulating effect, and other times provided a relaxing effect. They called this leaf Tobacco. That strangeness in the leaf, well that was caused by Nicotine.
At that time, and for a long time afterward, Tobacco was the only method by which consumers would get a noticeable dosage of Nicotine in their system. Prior to the industrialization of the plant, one of the only chemicals released during combustion was Nicotine (following industrialization there were far more chemicals, as things like cigarettes have up to 500+ additives in them). The act of smoking tobacco became addictive for those that did so partly because of the addictive properties of Nicotine.
So how does this apply to you? If you are someone that uses Nicotine in your vape juice, then you are also someone that experiences the chemical properties of Nicotine on a fairly regular basis. Maybe you switched to Vaping from smoking Cigarettes as a way to ween yourself away from the addiction of Nicotine, or maybe you switched to avoid the 500+ chemicals that exist in cigarettes. Regardless of the reasoning behind your introduction to Vaping, Nicotine can be one of the ingredients in your juice, if that is what you choose. The following will explain the effects that this chemical can have on your body, and will explain some of the different experiences you may have had with Nicotine.
Nicotine is a chemical substance that binds with your neuroreceptors and mimics the neurotransmitter, Acetylcholine (2). As the binding process occurs, the brain is prompted to release several different chemicals including dopamine, serotonin, and epinephrine (2). Because of this, and because those chemicals are associated with the reward center of the brain, Nicotine has addictive properties. With the release of epinephrine (Adrenaline) you experience an increase in heart rate and blood sugar levels, which is what gives people the “rush” they experience when they first use Nicotine (3). The very unique thing about Nicotine as a chemical substance is that the effect it has on the body changes as the usage increases in volume and frequency.
As explained by something called the “Nesbitt Paradox”, the profile of Nicotine changes with use from having stimulant properties to having sedative properties (4). This explains why one might get the feeling that they need a Vape break to relax.
Nicotine is used in a few different ways, all of which are related to the function of the brain. For some, Nicotine is used in a therapeutic sense as a method to quit smoking cigarettes. However, Nicotine is the second-most used nootropic on Earth, second only to Caffeine. Nootropics are chemicals that are used as a method to enhance performance in cognition, and focus. Just like with Caffeine (which also has addictive properties), this number is a bit skewed because those that use it on a regular basis often do so to bring out these effects (5). The effects of Nicotine can not be achieved as easily without Nicotine for someone who is addicted to the substance.
For someone who is trying to quit using Nicotine, the different juice potencies for Vaping allow for that person to alter their intake over the course of time. This is the major difference in the Nicotine intake between Cigarettes and Vaping.
With Vaping you are getting Nicotine delivery based on the percentage of Nicotine per the volume of juice you have. This means that someone who is using 12mg juice need only step down to 6mg juice in order to cut back on their usage. For someone that is a smoker, this would be more difficult to do because the amount of Nicotine they are intaking per Cigarette doesn't change. 
What you have done for yourself as a Vaper is isolated the “active ingredient” in cigarettes that you are looking for, but you have completely gotten rid of the other 499+ chemicals that I didn’t have time to explain in this blog! Way to go you!
Keep it up, VAPE IT FORWARD, and VAPE ON!
1. Rang H. Petal., Rang and Dale's Pharmacology 6th Edition, 2007, Elsevier, page 598
2. Pomerleau OF, Pomerleau CS (1984). "Neuroregulators and the reinforcement of smoking: Towards a biobehavioral explanation". Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 8: 503–513. doi:10.1016/0149-7634(84)90007-1.
3. Easton, John (March 28, 2002). "Nicotine extends duration of pleasant effects of dopamine". The University of Chicago Chronicle 21
4. Nesbitt P (1969). Smoking, physiological arousal, and emotional response. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Columbia University
5. Jasinska, Agnes J.; Zorick, Todd; Brody, Arthur L.; Stein, Elliot A. (September 2014). "Dual role of nicotine in addiction and cognition: A review of neuroimaging studies in humans". Neuropharmacology84: 111–122. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2013.02.015.PMC3710300PMID23474015.


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