Artificial But Still Addictive: Synthetic Nicotine’s Side Effects and Health Risks

Synthetic Nicotine’s Side Effects

Synthetic nicotine is nicotine that’s manufactured in a lab with toxic chemicals — not derived from tobacco leaves — and it’s what many within the tobacco world are calling “the future of nicotine.”

Popular products that contain synthetic nicotine include:

  • Pouches
  • Toothpicks
  • Disposable e-cigarettes

Unsurprisingly, the tobacco industry has been marketing these new products as “pure” and “clean,” but make no mistake: Synthetic doesn’t mean safe. Discover the health risks and side effects of synthetic nicotine and traditional nicotine below. 

short term side effects of synthetic nicotine

Short-Term Side Effects of Nicotine

Although scientists have just begun studying the impact of synthetic nicotine, the bottom line is this: It’s still nicotine, a stimulant drug that’s extremely addictive.

Short-term side effects of synthetic nicotine include:

  • Irritation in the mouth and throat
  • Abdominal pain and nausea
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Early symptoms of nicotine addiction, such as cravings, restlessness and insomnia


Side effects of synthetic nicotine on developing brains

Side Effects of Synthetic Nicotine on Developing Brains

Nicotine use also damages the human brain — especially ones that are still developing. To make matters worse, synthetic nicotine products typically come in flavors young adults already love, which further increases their appeal, along with the risk for nicotine addiction in youth.

In addition to addiction, underage nicotine use (both synthetic and tobacco-derived) can cause and/or worsen:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Impulsivity, irritability and mood swings
  • Problems with concentration
  • Learning and memory difficulties


Synthetic nicotine overdose

Synthetic Nicotine Overdose

Beyond synthetic nicotine’s side effects and its impact on teen brains, another threat lurks in the shadows: nicotine overdose, a serious threat that seemed highly unlikely until vapes entered the picture.

When combined with sweet flavors that mask their harsh impact, plus the weakened impulse control, it creates a perfect storm for nicotine overdose, or “nic-sickness.”

Symptoms of nicotine overdose include:

  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Stomachache and loss of appetite
  • Confusion, anxiety and extreme fatigue
  • Slow reflexes and reduced muscle control
  • Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
  • Headache and shallow breathing
  • Dizziness and tremors

If a loved one exhibits these symptoms and has just consumed a large amount of nicotine, monitor them closely and consult their doctor if symptoms do not improve. If symptoms progress to include seizures, breathing issues or cardiac arrest, get them to the hospital immediately.

Long term health risks of synthetic nicotine

Long-Term Health Risks of Nicotine

Outside of the well-established, long-term risks of tobacco use, a substantial body of research has also linked nicotine, including synthetic, to a wide variety of harmful health effects, including:

  • Increased risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disorders
  • Resistance to chemotherapy and higher risk of multiple cancer types
  • Elevated risk of respiratory, gastrointestinal and kidney disorders
  • High blood pressure and decreased immune response
  • Negative impacts on reproductive health
  • Long-lasting, life-threatening addiction


Synthetic Nicotine’s unique risks

Synthetic Nicotine’s Unique (and Unknown) Risks

Because synthetic nicotine is still relatively new, very little data regarding its toxicity exists at this time, but many health experts are concerned about its potential impurities and unknown solvents.

Additionally, since synthetic nicotine’s chemical configuration differs from that of tobacco-derived nicotine, its unique health risks remain largely unknown — so using these products is a serious gamble.

Synthetic nicotine is just as dangerous as tobacco-derived nicotine— despite what the tobacco industry’s propaganda would have you believe.

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Published by Tobacco Stops With Me on August 25, 2023