Chapter 13: Morphine, Nicotine, Caffeine

What are Morphine, Nicotine, and Caffeine?

Morphine, nicotine and caffeine can all bring some type of enjoyment to humans but they can also be dangerous and addictive. Morphine product of the opium poppy plant and is most commonly known as a painkiller that numbs the senses and induces sleep. Variations of the morphine compound, are heroin and methadone. Unfortunately it is very addicting and is abused often. Nicotine is a addicting depressant in large doses and is  most commonly found in tobacco plants and later used in cigarettes. Caffeine is naturally found in tea leaves, coffee beans, cacao pods, and cola nuts and is a white crystalline powder that tastes very bitter in its pure form. Caffeine have several of the same traits as other drugs such as heroin.

History and Chemistry of Morphine:

Morphine has generally been prescribed throughout history as a cure for many different symptoms such as coughing, headaches, asthma, emphysema, and tuberculosis. It is a natural painkiller that is still used today in many surgical operations. Morphine wasn’t recognized as a dangerous drug until 1914 when The Harrison Narcotics Tax Act was passed that stated that the possession of morphine was crime. Morphine is a benzylisoquinoline alkaloid and  is the most abundant of opium’s 24 alkaloids. It’s chemical formula is  C17H19NO3, It contains 5 rings, one of them being a methyl group and another one being an aromatic ring.

History and Chemistry of Nicotine:

Morphine has 10 different alkaloids, with the most common alkaloid being obviously nicotine. Nicotine is used in tobacco and was first discovered in Latin America and was brought back to Europe by Christopher Columbus. Due to it’s addictive qualities, it was a big hit in Europe. King James I of England, however, hated tobacco and banned in in churches and other places in England. In Russia during the 17th century, the punishment for smoking tobacco was having their lips slitted. But people could resist the addictive qualities of  Nicotine. When someone inhales Nicotine, whether it be tobacco dip or cigarettes, the nicotine quickly is absorbed in the lungs and transferred into the bloodstream, all in a matter of 10 seconds. Once nicotine gets to the brain, it stimulates the release of neurotransmitters, and also the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a “feel good”  chemical and explains the addictive effects of Nicotine on the body.  Nicotine’s effect on the brain is due to its ability to bind strongly to the brain’s ACh receptors. Besides being a harm to your body, Nicotine is also used as an insecticide since the 18th Century. But Nicotine is 1000 times more potent when it is absorbed through the skin, and this was discovered after farmer sat in tobacco and it soaked through this pants and absorbed into his skin. He was very lucky to have survived.

History and Chemistry of Caffeine:

Caffeine a naturally occurring chemical stimulant called trimethylxanthine.  It works by blocking the effects of adenosine. Adenosine helps to slow down the nervous system. Caffeine also causes the brain’s blood vessels to constrict, because it blocks adenosine ability to open them up Caffeine is usually recognized in dark liquids like coffee, tea, and a variety of sodas. But caffeine’s pure form is actually a white powder that tastes very bitter. It was discovered in the 1820s by a German Scientist named Friedrich Ferdinand Runge. While caffeine can be seen as a lifesaver, it is very toxic and highly addicting. It is estimated that 80g-100g is the lethal dose for an adult. Fortunately, this is physically impossible for anyone to do.

Opinion:

I was really intrigued during this chapter and was very impressed with the details given in the chapter to each separate subject matter. They had a good balance of history and chemistry and I was overall very happy with this chapter.

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One thought on “Chapter 13: Morphine, Nicotine, Caffeine

  1. I find that you get the worst qualities of all three drugs when you mix them together and take it (metaphorically); however you don’t good any of the good qualities.

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