17 December 2014

Caffeine vs. Nicotine

I had been experiencing some pretty severe anxiety off and on for a few months, and I was aware that my love of caffeine was exacerbating this anxiety, so I decided to look for a stimulant that would help me focus, while not worsening my anxiety.

I eventually settled on nicotine, for a few reasons:

  • It is a stimulant that is known to relieve anxiety.
  • By itself, it is not known to be a carcinogen.
  • It is only significantly addictive in conjunction with MAOIs, which are present in cigarettes but not in ecigs.

Experiment

Take ~1mg of nicotine per day by vapouriser, equivalent to 1 or 2 cigarettes, for three weeks, and document the results.

I chose an e-liquid solution of 6mg/mL nicotine suspended in vegetable glycerin (VG) with flavour. Most e-cigarette liquids contain propylene glycol (PG), but I am mildly allergic to this, so I excluded it.

Observations

  • Nicotine is an effective stimulant. It increases my motivation and focus, and makes me more productive by decreasing my propensity for distraction. It is comparable to caffeine in this regard.
  • Caffeine makes me feel anxious. Nicotine makes me feel relaxed.
  • Caffeine interferes with my ability to think creatively. Nicotine does not.
  • Caffeine interferes with my ability to sleep. Nicotine does not.
  • Nicotine reduces my desire to drink alcohol. Caffeine does not.
  • I suffer mild withdrawal symptoms (headaches, irritability) when ceasing caffeine. I also suffer mild withdrawal symptoms (agitation) when ceasing nicotine.
  • Nicotine increases my blood pressure slightly more (4±1mmHg) than caffeine does.

Conclusions

Nicotine is an effective choice for my use case, and I am happy with this choice. The stigma against nicotine appears to be due to its association with cigarettes—which I must emphasise are disgusting, dangerous, and outdated. Nicotine should be reconsidered and accepted for its own merits.