Nicotine and Nicotinic Acid (Niacin)

I must admit that I am way, way out of my depth here, but there are some interesting things worth observing.

Nicotinic acid is one of a group of vitamins known as Vitamin B3. It you do not have sufficient B3 in your diet, you might suffer from pellagra – dermatitis (very badly), diarrhoea, mental problems, etc. It is a very bad condition and can kill.

Rose found some information which dates back to the 1940s. It concerns how nicotine converts into nicotinic acid. You can read the links in the comments to:

My post of two days ago.

Here is the critical quote:

Nicotinic Acid
October 3, 1941

Dear sirs,
Referring to the subject of nicotinic acid, or the anti-pellagra vitamin, in cigarette smoke, permit us to state that we have heard from the University of Wisconsin, and are pleased to report that they have confirmed our findings in every respect. In other words, in aqueous solution of the smoke from ten Old Golds they find .8 milligrams of nicotinic acid,”

Now, it is said that nicotinic acid is oxidised nicotine. As far as I know, nicotinic acid is not found in tobacco as such. It only appears after the tobacco has been burnt. It appears in the smoke. But here is a funny thing. According to my cig packet and the net, each individual cig has 0.8 mg of nicotine, whereas the above quote says that 0.8 mg of niacin is the product of 10 cigs, so what happens to the nicotine when the tobacco is burnt? It is very obvious that all the tobacco is incinerated, but could it be that not all the nicotine is oxidised? How could that be? “Consumed by fire” must surely mean total oxidisation. Or does a lot of the nicotine remain locked in the ash? Surely these questions must have been asked and answered decades ago. Are we ‘not being told’ the truth?

Right. Just for fun, let’s look at the chemical formulae for nicotine and nicotinic acid:

Nicotine: C10, H14, N2. (10 atoms of carbon, 14 atoms of hydrogen and 2 atoms of nitrogen).

Nicotinic acid: C6, H5, N, O2.

So, if nic acid is oxidised nic, then, during the oxidisation process (burning), the molecule loses 4 carbon atoms, 9 hydrogen atoms and 1 nitrogen atom, but acquires 2 oxygen atoms. Or does it split up and reorganise itself into what are essentially  two molecules? If so, where do the extra 2 atoms of carbon come from? I suppose that they must come from the material of the leaf.

OK, OK. I know very well that the properties of a molecule are not the same as those of its constituent atoms. For example, salt (another essential bodily nutrient) is quite different, in its effects, than its component elements would have (sodium and chlorine). Both the elements are dangerous on their own, but, in combination, are essential ‘catalysts’ (for lack of a better word) in the processes of metabolism.

But I would still like to know why not all the nicotine in tobacco is converted to nicotinic acid when the tobacco undergoes combustion, if that is the case, and why it still exists as nicotine in the smoke.

I mean, there is a pretty serious point here, surely? You have dried tobacco leaf. You set fire to it, which means that you oxidise it. As a result, ash forms and smoke forms and various gases are emitted. The most common molecule emitted is water vapour. We inhale the smoke and the gases and the water vapour, I suppose, when we take a puff. All very odd.

But, once again, we see that we are not being told the whole story. For decades, a semblance of ‘truth’ has been known, but we don’t know what that ‘truth’ is. We only know what the propaganda has built up over those decades.

Tobacco companies have not helped one bit over those decades. For example, here is another quote:

“In other words, analyzed the saliva, which would have otherwise been swallowed. No nicotinic acid occurred in the smoker’s saliva before smoking. We feel that we have made this report sufficiently long to cover the discoveries, which we regard as quite remarkable. If you have any questions in the matter or suggestions, we will be glad to hear from you, We would also be interested in learning your opinion of the material for advertising purposes, as, of course, this constitutes it’s principle value” [My bold].

In other words, TobComs could advertise their fags as being ‘good for health’ since they provided vitamin B3. I don’t know if they ever did, but that is not the point. The point is in the phrase “…as, of course, this constitutes it’s principle value”. In retrospect, what might have been a damned sight more valuable might have been a thorough analysis of the stuff we inhale when we puff on a cig, including the air mixed in with it. When I take a puff, there is air in my mouth – a lot of it compared with the smoke. When I blow the smoke out, I blow out the smoke and the air that is already in my mouth. What is in the air in my mouth? Could there be formaldehyde and all sorts of other compounds?


Enough. I think that we have been seeing, for the past several decades, a simplification of a very, very complex matter for propaganda purposes, and, in recent times, the simplification has become a torrent of abuse, both in scientific terms and the demonisation of smokers.

Anyone who isn’t absolutely sick of it is denormalised.



22 Responses to “Nicotine and Nicotinic Acid (Niacin)”

  1. Rose Says:

    As far as I know, nicotinic acid is not found in tobacco as such

    Oh yes it is, it’s a break down product from aging, and as according to those industry documents from the 40’s, even added nicotinic acid goes through the fire unchanged.

    It was a rotten way to start the morning, but I did a search.

    The word “cotinine” is an anagram of nicotine, which helps us not at all.

    The Chemical Components of Tobacco and Tobacco Smoke, Second Edition

    “Cotinine and 2,3-bipyridyl and their derivatives represent the major oxidized alkaloids in tobacco. Cotinine is synthesized from nicotine via enzymatic oxidation or auto-oxidation…

    “Other oxidized alkaloids identified in green and cured tobacco are nicotyre, nicotinic acid, nicotinamide and nicotine-N-oxides.
    Enzell et al (1149) found that these oxidation products of tobacco alkaloids tend to increase in yield during curing and storage of tobacco.”

    Yours for only £199 pounds on Amazon.

    I would much prefer to get my information from industry documents from before 1962 and the RCP report, after that I expect any scientific evidence from either side to be tainted in one way or another.


    To lighten the mood and put all this in perspective, do please read –

    Chemical ingredients of an All Natural Banana

    “With this diagram, I want to demonstrate that “natural” products are usually more complicated than anything we can create in the lab. For brevity’s sake, I omitted the thousands of minority ingredients found in a banana, including DNA”

    Right, I’m off to drink my third cup of instant coffee of the morning and think about birds and flowers and fluffy kittens.

    • Some French bloke Says:

      Yours for only £199 pounds on Amazon.

      A possible explanation: hundreds of components of tobacco and tobacco smoke have been deemed so dangerous that even the appearance of their individual names in print has to be heavily taxed. :·)

  2. Ed Says:

    “Enzell et al (1149) found that these oxidation products of tobacco alkaloids tend to increase in yield during curing and storage of tobacco.”

    So the tobacco industry only tested flue cured then? Would air dried have higher levels of b3 just from the slower drying process? Burleys, rusticas and primitives could have higher levels and also contain other alkaloids not even present in the flue cured product.

    How would the fermentation process affect this too when producing tobacco like Perique? Would it alter the alkaloids present?

    A quick update for you Junican. Here’s a few pics I took of the 3 Golden Virginia plants I’m growing. They’re in bud now. I’ve removed any suckers that were appearing and will remove the bud just before it flowers. The buds feel incredibly sticky!. They’re on a high potash diet now plus supplemented with home made liquid comfrey.

    TBH, they are still in12 litre pots as they look small compared to varieties like Golden Burley and Silver River which definitely needed a larger upgrade.

    Just wish the weather would pick up a little, this June hasn’t been the best eh!

    Ps, Ignore the hardcore on the floor as I’m in the process of building a courtyard area!

  3. Ed Says:

    Pps, has anyone tried curing and smoking the flowers? Seems a shame to waste them!

    • Rose Says:


      The following year

      https: //

      Originally taken from –

      Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden

      Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians: An Indian Interpretation
      by Gilbert Livingstone Wilson, Ph.D.


      Harvesting the Blossoms

      “Tobacco plants began to blossom about the middle of June; and picking then began. Tobacco was gathered in two harvests. The first harvest was of these blossoms, which we reckoned the best part of the plant for smoking. Old men were fond of smoking them.

      Blossoms were picked regularly every fourth day after the season set in. If we neglected to pick them until the fifth day, the blossoms would begin to seed.

      This picking of the blossoms my father often did, but as he was old, and the work was slow and took a long time, my sister and I used to help him.

      I well remember how my sister and I used to go out in late summer, when the plants were in bloom, and gather the white blossoms. These I would pluck from the plants, pinching them off with my thumb nail. Picking blossoms was tedious work. The tobacco got into one’s eyes and made them smart just as white men’s onions do to-day.

      We picked, as I have said, every fourth day. Only the green part of the blossom was kept. The white part I always threw away; it was of no value.”

      So following her further instructions on drying the blossoms, but omitting the buffalo fat, I adapted them for Virginia tobacco.

      They are really rather nice.

  4. Ed Says:

    Thanks for the info. I did put up some pics in my previous post but it’s awaiting moderation, so unsure if you can see it. I was planning to remove the buds just as they are opening. So you reckon it’s ok to let them flower?

    They are so sticky atm so probably high in nicotine. I bet they would be very popular if sold commercially. As far as being labour intensive, what about those girls of the last century who made the rose petal tipped cigarettes? Then there’s the 22k gold tipped cigarettes!

    • Rose Says:

      I always let them flower.

      Flower tobacco doesn’t keep long and has to used fairly quickly.

      If you want to try, here’s one I prepared earlier with a picture.

      August 18, 2012
      Harvesting tobacco flowers.

      “As most people’s Golden Virginia should be in full bloom by now, here is a picture of exactly what the flower should look like on the day when it’s ready to harvest.

      Note the lavender stripes.

      If it’s left even one more day the seeds will form and the pod start to grow, rendering it useless.

      Pick the whole flower.
      Then holding the green part, rock the flower tube gently back and forth, it will separate from the green calyx easily.

      Discard the flower tube and place the green calyx on a piece of folded kitchen, then leave it in a warm place to dry slowly for a few days.

      When the whole calyx is a cardboard colour with no trace of green, its ready to shred, roll and smoke without further preparation, as flower tobacco doesn’t keep.”

      Anyway letting them flower is good for the bees.

      Nicotine Reduces Parasite Infection In Bees Up To 81 Percent

      “Chemicals in floral nectar, including the alkaloids anabasine and nicotine, the iridoid glycoside catalpol and the terpenoid thymol, significantly reduce parasite infection in bees, which may mean that that growing plants high in these compounds around farm fields could improve survival of diseased bees and therefore maintain more consistent pollination of crops.”

      “The results in Proceedings of the Royal Society B showed that consumption of these chemicals lessened the intensity of infection by up to 81 percent, which could significantly reduce the spread of parasites within and between bee colonies.”

      Real cork tips must have been dreadfully rough if you had to wrap them in rose petals.

  5. junican Says:

    Quite a few ideas here!
    There are so many names of chemicals involved that I would be much more at home with the chemical formulae of the chemicals. I can imagine, for example, the various combinations of Carbon, Hydrogen and Nitrogen atoms being very fluid. Also, it is quite reasonable to expect that, when the nicotine alkaloids oxide, they can do so in multiples of any combination of C10, H14, N2, plus, of course, any additional combination with O. The possible combinations are almost endless.
    The Zealots are fond of saying that ‘there are thousands of chemicals in tobacco smoke’. Well, yes, but what the layman does not understand is that IT DOES NOT MATTER! As your banana link shows, nature combines chemicals, which are ‘fluid’ in their linkages, in whatever ways just happen to click into place at any given moment.

  6. Ed Says:

    Very true Rose. I was cropping my comfrey patch recently and felt quite bad as it was flowering and swarming with bees.

    Thanks for the link, I’ll be following that method 🙂

    I have a few “live” packs of the cork tipped and yes they are hard. I think this was why companies like Abdulla (the cigarettes in the above video) also tipped them with real gold as well. They went through a ton of gold in their manufacture back in the day.

  7. junican Says:

    Your plants are really nice, and I see that they are flowering. I had plants in buckets in my South-facing spare room. They grew like the clappers and flowered and seeded. I still have the seeds, but have not used them, except to test that they were viable.
    The problem was that the leaves were pretty small, and thus the harvest was small. An explanation from a commenter was that the plants were simply not getting the amount of sunlight which they needed.
    Here is a pic of one of my good outdoor plants:


    OK. You need to copy and paste the url.

    You can see that the leaves are comparatively enormous, as indicated by the 30 cm ruler.

  8. junican Says:

    As you know, I have planted out those plants which you gave me. They seem to be happy. The lowest leaves have gone pale green/yellow and so I have picked them, towelled them until they were fully yellowed and beginning to brown, and just dried them.
    It will be interesting to see if the plants develop into huge plants. I hope so.
    We need some extended warm weather to really get them going. It seems that there is some decent weather on the way.

  9. junican Says:

    Some good chatting here, chaps, but I think that we have done ‘a tobacco control trick’ upon ourselves – we have combined two different subjects. The phrase ‘overweight or obese’ comes to mind – two entirely different conditions.
    No harm done, provided that we can extract useful information.

  10. Ed Says:

    That’s a bugger, I can’t see from a copy and paste! I think it’s directing me to your files on your C drive though? It needs to be https://……..

    I’m a little disappointed with the Golden Virginia and the Virginia Brightleaf when I compare them to the Golden Burley’s and the Silver River variety. They’ve all had roughly the same treatment but the leaves on those two really dwarf the Golden Virginia. The Burley is particularly big and hasn’t even begun stretching yet. It’s just sat there going bigger and bigger, like some mutant cabbage!

    On both the tobacco forums there is little info to glean off them about growing in pots. The majority grow in open ground and most growers reckon they’ll grow bigger this way, so concentrate their efforts in this department. Consequently there’s no real feeding guides out there for container growing. Currently, I’m liquid feeding mine twice a week and have switched to high potash from the high nitrogen feeding earlier in the season. I’ll probably raise the phosphorus level after flowering to help harden them off, although I’m basing all this on other plants I have grown.

    Hopefully, next year I’ll do a side by side grow. One lot in beds and the others in pots to see if there’s a big difference in leaf size. Seeing it’s my first year I’m just over the moon to be growing my own leaf!

  11. westcoast2 Says:

    In search of the missing “je ne sais quoi” in e-liquid…..

    The body synthesizes niacin from tryptophan using vitamin B6. If the body has enough niacin then (as I understand it) the B6 can be used as a cofactor in the tryptophan to 5HTP to serotonin biosynthesis.

    In a further step, from serotonin to 5-HIAA, monoamine oxidase (MAO) is used. This can be inhibited by an MAO inhibitor (MAOI) such as harmaline, which is also found in tobacco.

    Harmaline can be used in the metabolism of serotonin producing N-Acetylserotonin (NAS). NAS has anti-depressant, neurotrophic (helps the survival of neurons) and cognition-enhancing effects.

    • Rose Says:

      Harmaline is in N. Rustica, but I’m not sure that it’s in N.Tobacum.

      “They ground up tobacco leaves and tested representative samples in a test tube to see if they inhibited MAO. From the fraction containing the most potent MAO inhibitor, they isolated a chemical known as 2,3,6-trimethyl-1,4-naphthoquinone.”

      Which tentatively may be derived from the solanesol in tobacco and other nightshade vegetables.

      FCTC/COP/5/9 Annex 3 page 12

      “Researchers have found a marked decrease in the levels of monoamine oxidase (MAO) in the brains and peripheral organs of smokers . MAO is an important enzyme responsible for breaking down dopamine.

      The decrease in MAO results in higher dopamine levels and may be another reason that smokers continue to smoke, i.e. to sustain the high dopamine levels that lead to the desire for repeated drug use.

      It has been suggested that this change is likely to be caused by a substance in tobacco smoke other than nicotine.

      Certain tobacco constituents are reported to be MAO inhibitors, such as 2,3,6-trimethyl-1-4-naphthoquinone …”

      I wish I’d paid more attention in chemistry class.

      • westcoast2 Says:

        From this page…

        “Tobacco contains two psychoactive chemicals called Harmaline and myristicin.[9]”

        Ref 9

        The abstract does not mention Harmaline and the full text is pay walled.

        Certainly both Dopamine and Serotonin levels could to be affected.

        In 2011 “Brain monoamine oxidase A inhibition in cigarette smokers”

        reported “In conclusion, we report here the first direct observation in the human brain that tobacco smoke exposure is associated with a reduction in MAO A. Since MAO A breaks down monoamines linked to mood, this study suggests that MAO A inhibition needs to be considered as a link between tobacco smoke exposure and depression.” On simple reading this seems to suggest that tobacco smoke leads to depression when really tobacco smoke gives relief from depression.

        In the real world, this is further evidence that banning smoking in care home, psych units etc should not be supported. Patients are self medicating. Stopping smoking is not just about Nicotine, there are many other issues involved.

        Clearly some people need the MAOIs in tobacco. Patches, gums and e-cigs do not afik contain MAOIs. This may explain why some people remain dual users.

        Indeed, both niacin and an MAOI (harmaline or possibly harmine) as suppled via smoking may be needed.

      • westcoast2 Says:

        While searching I came across this from 2008
        “Harmine displayed a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on cell proliferation against all human carcinoma cells, but the SW480 transformed cell line showed a higher sensitivity. These results suggested that harmine was identified as a useful inhibitor of tumor development.”

        From “Cytotoxicity of the beta-carboline alkaloids harmine and harmaline in human cell assays in vitro.”

        There are many references to Harmine in tobacco.

      • Rose Says:

        If you had been smoking harmaline I think that you would know about it, you’ll find that in N. Rustica – Shamanic tobacco, Mapacho.

        Anti-tobacco make no distinction between one tobacco plant and another.

        Rustica was the first tobacco exported to England and is probably why James 1st assigned it’s use to the sin of drunkeness in Counterblaste.

        By 1615 we were importing the more popular tobacum.

        “Plant materials containing harmala alkaloids have been used as intoxicants for centuries.At least two of the constituents harmaline and harmine have been reported as hallucinogens.”

        Myristicin is from nutmeg and so unstable that even OZ magazine warned us about it’s use. I remember that distinctly, if OZ warned you about it, it must be bad.

        On and off, anti-tobacco has been trying to persuade everyone that we’ve been using a narcotic for years.

      • westcoast2 Says:

        Yes harmaline at the levels in the plants you mention is high and it does seem to have ‘interesting’ effects when mixed with other things. On its own it does not seem very potent.

        As far back as 1962 Harmane and Norharmane were isolated from cigarette smoke.

        A search on the title does produce a pdf of the full article.

        Harmane (Harman) and Harmaline are in the same β-Carboline subgroup of Indole alkaloids, mentioned in the article.

        Harmane, Harmine and Harmaline are all in the The Chemical Components of Tobacco and Tobacco Smoke, Second Edition
        2013. Harmine can also be derived from Tryptophan and both Harmane and Harmine are already present in blood.

        When looking at these things, most of the articles only mention tobacco and so it is difficult to differentiate. Some articles (especially the older ones) do mention cigarette smoke. Would it be safe to assume this refers to N.Tobacum.?

        Of course anti-t would want to highlight the narcotic effects rather than the anti-cancer, anti-depressant and well being effects.

      • Rose Says:

        Confusing isn’t it? They don’t differentiate between different types of tobacco.

        The only place that I could find the statement that Harmaline is definately not in tobacum was a homeopathy website which has now disappeared and is repeated here..

        Homeopathic provings – a fundamental principle of homeopathy

        “Homeopathic provings, also known as homeopathic pathogenetic trials (HPTs), are a fundamental principle of homeopathy. In homeopathic provings, a homeopathically prepared substance is tested on healthy volunteers – provers – in order to reveal, through recording the effects, the state of health-disturbance that the substance induces.”
        http: //

        “The significance of these neurotransmitters to the alleged hallucinatory effects of tobacco is still inconclusive, although N. rustica contains the alkaloid harmaline, absent in N. tabacum.”
        http ://

        Make of that what you will.

        However if it was true that harmine is in the tobacco we smoke, I’m sure that anti-tobacco would have dumped the nicotine a long time ago.
        Unless it’s there in such tiny amounts it has no effect until they are absolutely desparate to prove why NRT isn’t working.

        The tobacco companies did use N. Rustica in the making of pesticides as the nicotine content was so much higher.

        In 2011 it was Harman

        Brain chemical may explain why heavy smokers feel sad after quitting

        “Heavy smokers may experience sadness after quitting because early withdrawal leads to an increase in the mood-related brain protein monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A), a new study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has shown. This finding, which was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, may also explain why heavy smokers are at high risk for clinical depression.”

        “A specific substance in cigarette smoke, called harman, may be responsible for these changes, the researchers note. During active smoking, harman attaches to MAO-A. During early withdrawal in heavy smokers who had 25 or more cigarettes a day, MAO-A levels rose rapidly to a level beyond that seen in the healthy comparison group.”

        This month it’s pyrazine.

        Tobacco additives may have helped ‘promote addiction’
        From Cancer Research UK
        10 June 2015

        “Tobacco researchers identified additives that could have made cigarettes more acceptable and addictive, according to a new analysis of tobacco company documents.

        It suggests that chemical additives, called pyrazines, were identified and began to be included in the ‘recipe’ for some tobacco products in the 1960s and 70s to make low-tar, or ‘light’, cigarettes, taste richer and smoother.”
        http: //

        So what are pyrazines?

        “Pyrazines are important contributors to the flavour of various roasted, toasted, or similarly heated foods. They are common constituents of foods and are thought to arise primarily from heat-induced condensation between amino acids and sugars”

        I know there is an MAOI in tobacco, but I still doubt that it’s Harmaline.

        Parkinson’s Inhibitor Fingered in Tobacco

        “They ground up tobacco leaves and tested representative samples in a test tube to see if they inhibited MAO. From the fraction containing the most potent MAO inhibitor, they isolated a chemical known as 2,3,6-trimethyl-1,4-naphthoquinone.

        To find out whether this was a key MAO-inhibitor in cigarette smoke, Castagnoli’s team examined mice in which dopamine-producing neurons were killed with a compound called MPTP that’s converted to a toxin in the brain, causing symptoms much like Parkinson’s disease. Without the naphthoquinone, dopamine levels in the mice given MPTP dropped 60% below normal.

        Yet when the mice were pretreated with naphthoquinone, dopamine levels fell only 40%. This suggests that naphthoquinone “is a good [MAO] inhibitor–not gangbusters, but a good inhibitor,” Castagnoli says.”
        http: //

        Which seems reasonable to me.

        It appears to be a vitamin K derivative and they make Vitamin K out of Solanesol, the rarely mentioned plant chemical in tobacco.
        Surprising that, since there seems to be a huge market in it.

        22nd July 1960

        Other Materials From Tobacco Waste

        “If other products of high value could be extracted along with the nicotine, the extraction of the latter from tobacco waste might become more profitable or the cost of nicotine could fall.
        Such a material would have to be in the high price range associated with drugs.
        At present there is no such material on the horizon although it is just possible that ubiquinone ( Co-enzyme Q ) or some related compound may become important in medicine.

        Ubiquinone has been found in tobacco as also has solanesol, a long chain alcohol which could provide part of the ubiquinone molecule.

        Ubiquinone is known to be a normal constituent of many animal tissues and in some senses is a vitamin since the benzene ring is not known to be synthesisised in man.

        It is known that Hofman-La Roche are carrying out extensive work on this in Switzerland, and it would be interesting to know if they have considered tobacco as a raw material.

        In addition, the isolation of a-tocopheral and solanachromene from flue cured tobacco suggests that the tobacco plant may contain a range of biologically important compounds such as Vitamin E and Vitamin K as well as compounds related from solanesol.

        However, none of this is very exciting, first because Reynolds have published fairly widely in this field and must be assumed to be well aware of the possibilities, and second because the type of compound considered does not have a molecule intrinsically very difficult to synthesise from cheap materials.

        As a guess for example, if ubiquinone became important, the market price would quickly drop to a few shillings per gram.

        Nevertheless, this aspect is worth watching and the political impact of the tobacco industry making a contribution to medicine might be considered important.”

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