13. Morphine, Nicotine, and Caffeine


17 responses to “13. Morphine, Nicotine, and Caffeine

  • Nicole Simone

    It is human nature to want things that make us feel good. Morphine, nicotine and caffeine can all bring some type of enjoyment to humans but they can also be dangerous and addictive.
    To begin with, Morphine, a product of the opium poppy plant, has been used since prehistoric times. It is used frequently as a painkiller; however, some users abuse it for other practices. It is a narcotic that numbs the senses and induces sleep. Unfortunately, it is very addicting and very treacherous when used improperly. Morphine is one of the most abundant alkaloids of opium. It makes up about 10 percent of crude opium extract, which is a sticky dried secretion from the poppy flowerpod. Friedrich Serturner first isolated morphine from this poppy latex in 1803. He named the compound that he attained morphine because of the Roman god of dreams, Morpheus. Before the complete structure of morphine was known, there were attempts to amend it chemically because they wanted a better pain reliever without addictive properties. Many may not know, but heroin and morphine share the same physiological effects. However, heroin is more easily transported across the blood-brain barrier than morphine. Morphine imitates the action of endorphins which are compounds found in very low concentrations in the brain that serve as natural pain relievers and that increase in concentration in times of stress.
    Moreover, when Christopher Columbus landed in the New World, he saw both men and women “drink” or inhale the smoke of rolls of burning leaves inserted into their nostrils. This “drink” or inhaled smoke was part of the use of Tobacco. Columbus first discovered tobacco in Latin America and brought it back to Europe. It spread eagerly throughout Europe because of its addictive assets. Tobacco has at least ten different alkaloids, the most notable one being Nicotine. Naturally, Nicotine acts as a restorative in small doses and a depressant in large doses. Additionally, it has been discovered that nicotine is 1000 times more vigorous when it is immersed through the skin than when it is taken orally. Also, nicotine is a potent natural insecticide.
    Lastly, Caffeine, a psychoactive drug, is freely available all over the world. Caffeine is an influential central nervous intoxicant and one of the most studied drugs in the world. It is naturally found in tealeaves, coffee beans, cacao pods, and cola nuts. When caffeine is consumed into the body, it goes to the brain where it blocks the engrossment of adenosine at the synaptic gap. When it inhabits adenosine receptors in the other part of the body, one will experience a caffeine buzz. As a result, their heartbeat rate will increase, some blood vessels will tighten while others open, and evident muscles will more easily contract. Caffeine is toxic and also highly addictive. The only way to overdose on caffeine is by consuming ten grams orally (by an average-sized adult). But, it is nearly impossible to consume that much caffeine at one time.
    Morphine, nicotine and caffeine were all addictive alkaloids connected to the Opium Wars. They each impacted the Opium Wars in their own way, whether it was for the good or for the bad. They created trade relations between various nations throughout history and some were banned from many countries.
    All of these alkaloids are still prevalent today. Many people continue to abuse these alkaloids and become addicted to them each day. They have found other resources to use along with these molecules that cause even worse outcomes then what may have happened in previous decades, or millenniums. In addition, illegal trafficking in opium countries continues to finance organized crime and international terrorism.
    The author’s argument makes sense because each alkaloid resulted in trade among countries, fortunes for some, and destruction of land in some areas. It is evident that each of the three alkaloids brought on the Opium War.

  • Jarred Madrid P6

    Morphine, Nicotine, and Caffeine are three similar alkaloid molecules that are highly addictive and each molecule can be related to another. Opium has many different alkaloids within it and the most plentiful is Morphine. Morphine is a painkiller, which has a big impact on the brain and nervous system when taken. Morphine is a hallucinogen that has some narcotics effects such as pain-relief, sleepiness, and addiction but many believe it is due to its combination in its chemical structure. This combination is 4 different atoms that make up the morphine rule and when combined also have codeine and heroine in it. In order for this morphine rule to be complete it needs, a phenyl or aromatic, a quaternary carbon atom, a CH2-CH2 group attached, and a tertiary N atom. The combination is what makes morphine have the narcotic effects and it shows why the morphine rule is an important combination. Nicotine can be found in tobacco and was introduced to the Europeans when they landed in the Americas in 1496. The Nicotine molecule makes a bridge between the nerve cells, causing the muscles, mainly the heart, to slow down. Nicotine slows the heart, which slows down the blood circulation so those who say they need a cigarette to calm their nerves do not know what is really happening. Nicotinic acid has a similar structure to nicotine but is beneficial because they have vitamins and nutrients for a better health. Caffeine is a drug that is sold openly all over the world and is a very popular drug. Caffeine’s structure is very similar and related to theophylline’ s and theobromine’s structure because the structures have slightly different amounts of CH3 groups attached to the structure’s rings.
    Opium was an important export for many countries because many countries saw the wealth it could bring to their country. Many countries like England, Portugal, and France began trading Opium with the Chinese because it was an alternative for the banned tobacco. The Chinese people immediately got addicted and Opium traders began making their money due to the strong addiction it had. Before China’s crisis with Opium, opium was used as an herb in medicine and was practiced for hundreds of years. Smoking tobacco was very common in China during the 1500s and became a problem for China. In the 1600s, the last Ming Dynasty emperor banned smoking tobacco and many Chinese people resorted to smoking opium. In 1729, China banned importation and the sale of opium, but it was too late because many people were addicted. The opium wars left China devastated because theses European countries forced in opium knowing the internal damage it would cause and China was weakened significantly. Nicotine also played a big part in history because the people who lived in the Americas introduced tobacco to the world and the explorers brought back what they found. Also tobacco cultivation helped many economies and farmers sell more because tobacco is highly addictive. Caffeine is found in tea, which was an important part in the opium wars because Asia and Europe were big tea drinkers. Tea was shipped almost everywhere and was an export/import for many countries.
    These three alkaloids had a lot of effects on modern and past times because it shifted country’s way of life, economy, and people. Morphine, Nicotine, and Caffeine are very addictive and today much of the world drinks coffee, which has caffeine and doctors use morphine for numbing pain. In my opinion, things have not changed much because caffeine is being sold all over the world and is still big for trading. The author makes a great point when he states all the impacts Morphine, Nicotine, and Caffeine had on the world and how they can relate to each other. Another point is the effects these three alkaloids have on the human body and thinking because even if they aren’t illegal drugs, they still can do harm.

  • Lauren Bishop

    Chapter 13 revolves around Morphine, Nicotine, and Caffeine. Properties of Opium contain Morphine and can be traced back to prehistoric times near the Euphrates River. It was often used as a herb, and a healing remedy by the Greeks, Egyptians, Babylonians, and other ancient civilizations. By the 18th and 19th centuries, artists and writers were using Opium to clear their mind and become more creative. Morphine makes up ten percent of opium and is, “a molecule that numbs the senses (thus removing pain) and induces sleep.” (249) Morphine is a very effective pain killer; however it is also associated with addiction. When attempting to correct the addiction problem, scientists tried to replace the H’s from the OH bonds in morphine with CH3CO’s , but the result came to be Diacetylmorphine. Diacetylmorphine is also known as heroin, and is extremely addictive. It was sold as a cough suppressant, and was believed to cure headaches, asthma, emphysema and tuberculosis. Morphine is thought to be an effective pain reliever because instead of interfering with signals going to the brain, it changes how the brain interprets pain by blocking it. It has a similar effect of endorphins that, “serve as natural pain relievers” (252) that increase in times of stress or after exercise. Today, morphine is a highly addictive, yet effective pain killer. It is usually taken as tablets, capsules, or is injected into a muscle. It is effective because it is sometimes thought to suppress the nervous system so that pain is no longer intense. It causes nausea or vomiting and is highly addictive. Morphine is not often used by modern day addicts. Instead they turn to heroin because that is what they can easily obtain to feed their addiction.
    People back in time used nicotine though smoking, snuffing, and chewing tobacco leaves. Back then, the use of tobacco was seen only as a traditional part of a ceremony. It was said to have cause hallucinations in the people that used it, and from that time, the use of tobacco spread to Europe and then to the rest of the world. Despite its new found popularity, smoking was not accepted everywhere. Russia, Turkey, India, and Persia outlawed smoking and if that law was violated, punishments were often cruel, and sometimes resulted in the death penalty. The countries that did support the use of tobacco, began using it as an export for their country’s trade. Nicotine, in small doses, can stimulate the nervous system and the heart, but as the nicotine wears off, the blood flow and muscle activity slow down and causes a tired and depressed feeling. The sudden rush is eventually brought back down, so people become addicted to the rush of the nicotine and continue to turn to the drug to lift their mood. The main reason that tobacco is craved by many individuals all over the world is because of the nicotine.
    Caffeine is well known for being the energy booster that we can get in our morning coffee or in a chocolate bar. It is naturally in coffee beans, tea leaves, and cocao pods among other foods. Caffeine is known to block against adenosine, a molecule that can make you feel tired, thus producing a hyper feeling. This hyper feeling is known as a caffeine buzz and also includes increased heart rate and constricting of blood vessels and muscles. Caffeine is lethal at around ten grams, and the usual amount in a coffee cup is between 80 to 180 milligrams. Like morphine and nicotine, caffeine has a slightly addictive quality to it as well and can have effects of headaches, drowsiness or in extreme cases, nausea and vomiting. With long term overuse, caffeine can cause respiratory or heart problems. Morphine and nicotine are well known, addictive, and were thought to be beneficial for your health. However, now that these molecules’ negative sides are being shown, their addictive qualities are making it hard for people to stay away. Also slightly addictive, but not as dangerous, caffeine is a part of daily life more many people. It is unfortunate that something that was originally thought to be beneficial to health, is now used as a harmful and addictive drug. Morphine, nicotine, and caffeine are molecules that lead to the Opium Wars in the 1800’s and have continued to impact life to this very day.

    “Caffeine Information.” Over Caffeinated. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 May 2011.
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    “Morphine.” Drug Text. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 May 2011. .

    “Niocotine in your brain.” National Life Recovery. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 May 2011.
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  • Eric Simone

    The three alkaloid molecules in nicotine, morphine, and caffeine have all
    had a great impact in world history. Nicotine, morphine, and caffeine are all addicting alkaloid molecules. To start off, morphine is a main ingredient in the opium plant. In the 19th century, opium was used to create a dreamlike state of mind to enhance creativity by artists, poets and writers. Today, morphine is mainly used in the medical field because morphine is an effective painkiller. Morphine is illegal unless prescribed by a doctor because it is considered a narcotic and gives off a hallucinogenic effect. The reason why morphine is an effective painkiller is because it mimics the natural painkilling endorphins in our brains. Throughout history, doctors have prescribed morphine for people with headaches, asthma, emphysema, and tuberculosis. Morphine’s chemical structure has a phenyl ring and a quaternary carbon atom. It also needs to have a CH2-CH2 group attached to a tertiary Nitrogen atom. Many scientists believe morphine’s structure is responsible for its narcotic effects.
    In addition to morphine, the next alkaloid, nicotine, is one of ten alkaloids found in tobacco. Tobacco was first discovered by Latin America and used ceremonially by Indians of South America. Its use spread to Europe after Christopher Columbus witnessed the hallucinogenic effects and brought it back from the New World. Its addictive traits aided in the spread throughout Europe. Nicotine can do many things to your body. When you consume nicotine in small amounts it can act as a stimulant but when taken in large amounts, the nicotine can be use as a depressant. Nicotine is a thousand times more potent when you absorb it through your skin rather than inhaling it. Lastly, caffeine is an alkaloid which can be found in tea leaves, coffee beans, cacao pods, and cola nuts. Caffeine is very toxic and addicting. A lethal dose of caffeine is 80g to 100g for an average size adult but this is impossible to consume in one sitting.
    All of these alkaloids are still prevalent today. They all have addicting tendencies. They have had an impact on today’s world because in their own way, they have a comforting effect on people. Also, the addicting need for these alkaloids opened up trade among countries. Unfortunately on the negative side, the cultivation of these plants has changed some of the native flora in areas where they are grown. In addition, the profit from some of these cultivations has funded terrorism. Hence, the author’s argument makes sense because history has been changed by these molecules. Trade changed various countries’ relationships, and improved many lives.

    • Adam Sugarman

      Eric, I think its really cool how these alkaloids really effected the economies and trade of countries before. Most people today have a vague idea of their use as drugs but nobody really understands there value aside from why they are used recreationaly.

  • Megan LaCasse

    Morphine, Nicotine, and Caffeine

    This chapter was about the human need and the danger of morphine, nicotine, and caffeine. While these molecules have brought numerous benefits to mankind, they have also been dangerous.
    The use of morphine dates back to the days when opium was used as a medical herb either drunk or swallowed. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, artists, writers, and poets used opium to create a dream-like state of mind to enhance creativity. In the early times, the fact that opium was extremely addictive was of little concern. Babies were even dosed with opium to soothe the pain of teething. Soon china was introduced to smoking tobacco. Severe penalties were enforced for the possession or importation of tobacco. In the middle of the seventeenth century, the emperor of the Ming dynasty prohibited the smoking of tobacco, so the Chinese switched over to opium. The effects of nicotine and morphine though inhalation of the lungs were extremely addictive. By 1729 smoking opium became part of the culture in China. China soon started trading with Britain. It was discovered that tea was in abundance in china, and while opium was part of the Chinese lifestyle, tea was part of the British lifestyle. Tea was traded for opium, until 1839 when the Chinese government attempted to halt this flourishing trade by confiscating and destroying a year’s supply of opium found in a warehouse in Canton. The need for opium even caused two wars with Britain, both resulting in Chinese defeat. Thus, opium, tea, and tobacco resulted in the breakdown of Chinese isolation.
    Twenty-four different alkaloids are present in opium, morphine, the most abundant, makes up about 10 percent of opium extract from the poppy flowerpod. In 1803, pure morphine was isolated from poppy latex. Morphine is named after Morpheus, the roman god of dreams. Morphine numbs the senses and induces sleep. Several attempts to modify morphine so that it was less addictive were made. Scientists came up with aspirin which now used as a pain killer, but on a lower scale. Scientists also came up with a drug that was much more powerful than morphine, now known as heroin, which has the same physiological effects as morphine, but is much more addictive. At first, heroin was thought to be free of addiction and was soon marketed as a cough suppressant and headache reliever, but soon it was quite obvious the effects of heroin on people. Not too long after, heroin was quickly taken off the shelves.
    Morphine mimics the action of endorphins, compounds found in the brain that are the body’s natural pain relievers. Nicotine is also highly addictive due to the fact that it causes the endorphins to multiply, causing one’s stress to decrease.
    Morphine, Nicotine, and Caffeine have started wars, enslaved thousands, shaped cultures and spurred trade. History has shaped itself due to the human body’s addiction to these relievers. It is easy to say that the addictiveness of these molecules have played a huge role in shaping history.

    • Nicole Simone

      To be honest, I didn’t know that heroin was produced from morphine. That was something new I learned after reading this chapter. It’s kind of scary if you think about it though because heroin is the worse drug for someone to consume and it is produced from a drug that doctors prescribe to us.

  • Jordan Brown

    Morphine, Nicotine, and Caffeine all have one main thing in common; they were designed to have a positive aspect on life at their discovery time period. What started as an effective painkiller, a natural pesticide, and a minor stimulant, evolved into a hallucinogenic, an additive, and a toxic stimulant. All three of these are extremely addictive, and could be very dangerous at large quantities. These all have similar chemical structures, in basic form they have a chain of Carbon and 2 Hydrogen atoms attached to a tertiary nitrogen atom.
    Morphine is a known ingredient in Opium, so the main question is, how could the beneficial painkiller be used also in a hallucinogenic? It’s a paradox similar to Oxy Cotton which is also a highly addictive painkiller and hallucinogenic. It gets to be more of a contradiction when one finds that Morphine is the main factor of Opium that adds Opium’s narcotic effects. The easy way to explain why this is the case is to think of what the morphine does to the body. Morphine mainly releases a large mass of endorphins into the human body; endorphins are neurons that interrupt certain pain signals from registering through the brain. This meaning if you are poked with a needle, the pain message will go to the brain and the endorphins will delete the message before sending it back to the pain site, making the pain not felt. Thus, allowing a certain state of being painless and a certain state of relaxation. This is why Morphine is a key ingredient of Opium, because it releases so many endorphins that it will relax one’s minds and calm someone defers someone’s pains to allow a relaxing trip into hallucinations. Without the morphine, the mind would never settle down from its normal state due to lack of endorphins. However, it can be obviously seen that, when not mixed in Opium, Morphine could still be used to defer pain messages, however one would be very surprised how addicting it is to not feel certain pains. This is why Morphine in its raw state is still considered an additive.
    Nicotine was originally seen as a basic stimulant to many eyes, however once the application grew to larger doses, it will become known as a depressant. The most common use for nicotine in society is through tobacco, in which the tobacco companies would be out of business if it were not for nicotine. The procedure is simple, put as much nicotine in the tobacco as possible, and cause the body to want more tobacco. Since the nicotine is an additive, one will become addicted to it fairly quickly. Having it in large quantities will not only make you crave the nicotine, but will depress your emotions if you do not have any. Mixing the nicotine with tobacco will make you crave the tobacco as well, for you remember the taste of what you think is nicotine and will directly refer the nicotine addiction to the taste of tobacco. Thus, adding nicotine to any sort of food or inhalant will cause an addiction to the food and inhalant that wont is fulfilled unless nicotine is consumed. Also, one can develop an addiction to nicotine without directly taking it, for it is more effective when taken through the skin then orally. Also tobacco can be gotten anywhere, making nicotine the easiest additive to obtain worldwide, soon generations will be born into certain addictions like such all over the world.
    Lastly, Caffeine is a major stimulant to ones mind, and can often result in loss of sleep. There are actually traces of small amounts of caffeine in certain ADD medication, however quantities are small. The most common consumption of caffeine is through fountain sodas such as, Coca Cola, Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, and many, many others even including tea and such. It works similar to coffee, but has much dire long-term effects. It gives energy to keep on moving and be stimulated throughout a certain time period. This is the exact cause of the addiction. Addiction to energy, and it was not until more recently that it was deemed as a harmful chemical due to certain side affects. A very large misconception of Caffeine addiction is soda addiction. While a soda addiction would also be a caffeine addiction a soda addiction is usually a carbonation addiction. For example, I will get possible headaches if I do not have a soda throughout my day; however, I never drink caffeine because it makes me tremor. In retrospect to that, my aunt needs to drink caffeine every morning and un-caffeinated soda will not curtain her headaches. My aunt has a caffeine addiction and I have a carbonation addiction. However, what makes caffeine harmful is that it is TOXIC! Over 80 grams of it could be a lethal dose for anyone, caffeine addiction is very bad for anyone to start.

    • David Bell

      J Brown, I thought your summary really helped me understand morphine, nicotine, and caffeine although I was previously unfamiliar with the topic. Also, I found it very interesting how morphine actually blocks pain signals, not allowing your body to respond from the endorphins.

  • Devon Romano

    Morphine, nicotine, and caffeine all share a few things in common; each is an alkaloid, and each is addictive. Morphine, named after Morpheus (god of dreams) by Friedrich Serturner, was first isolated from the poppy flower extract in 1803. The poppy is the source of opium, one of the world’s most widely-used drugs. Opium was popular throughout the entire world, particularly Burma, Laos, Thailand, China and Britain. It has been used over 5,000 years ago, and continued to flourish in seventh century China. Two wars, the First Opium War and the Second Opium War, were between China, Britain, and France over the trade of opium for tea. China placed laws about smoking and selling opium, however they were disregarded and opium took over the trade market due to its addictiveness. Opium’s effects are direct results of the morphine amounts, which cause a dream-like, happy state of mind, and opium was used as a pain reliever. Morphine is a compound involving an HO-O-HO-N-CH3 complex. As scientists attempted to manipulate it to have no addictiveness, they created diacetylmorphine by adding CH3CO’s in place of the H’s, which made Heroin. This turned out to be extremely addictive, and still produced the same euphoric sense. Morphine as well as other alkaloids has been shown to block pain receptors in the brain, taking the place of endorphins by mimicking the β-phenylethylamine.
    Nicotine, another highly addictive substance, was first used by the Natives of South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean through the smoking, chewing, sniffing, and drinking of tobacco leaves. Christopher Columbus first witnessed the Indians using tobacco in ceremonies, and brought the plant back to Europe with him. Although smoking tobacco soon became a staple, papal edicts as well as King James I criticized the use of it. Russia and many other countries banned the use of tobacco; however it was already too popular. Nicotine itself acts as a neurotransmitter, allowing stimulation “of the central nervous system and the heart, but eventually, or with larger doses, it acts as a depressant” (258). Its structure is very similar to that of essential nutrients, such as niacin and vitamin B6. After long-term use, nicotine decreases your ability to transport oxygen around the body, and slowly kills you. It is very possible to overdose on nicotine, and it can kill you within minutes.
    Caffeine is one of the most addictive substances known know, and is most commonly found in coffee, tea, and cocoa. Tea (theophylline) is a slightly varied from caffeine with one less CH3 a nitrogen bond, as is cocoa (theobromine) with one less CH3 in between the oxygen bonds. Caffeine blocks the effect of Adenosine, which helps to induce sleep. Thus, “caffeine cannot be said to wake us up” (261), but it blocks us from feeling sleepy. Caffeine highly surpasses theophylline and theobromide’s effect, but causes a crash and drowsiness after taken. Once you become addicted, and stop taking caffeine, withdrawal symptoms include headaches, fatigue, nausea, and drowsiness. It is sometimes used in the treatment of things such as asthma, in effect dilating the bronchi of the lungs to increase air flow.
    Nowadays, morphine is a staple pain reliever in the medical business, nicotine is something almost everyone in the world does or has done, and caffeine is in what everyone drinks. We are addicted to each of these three things, shamelessly. However, each is used for good purposes; morphine reduces pain after major surgeries, nicotine, although dangerous to health, helps to “calm nerves”, and caffeine helps with diseases such as asthma. The world now depends on these three molecules to get them through their everyday lives.

  • Peter Sandilos

    CHP.13 Morphine, Nicotine and Caffeine
    Morphine, nicotine, and caffeine are all very addictive. Chapter thirteen gives us a look at Morphine, Nicotine, and caffeine molecules and tells us why the body needs these molecules after having them. Morphine is a molecule found in opium; it is very addictive and can make people go into a dream like state. There is evidence that opium has been used since prehistoric times, evidence shows that more than five thousand years ago opium was being used in Euphrates River Delta there is also evidence that opium traces were found in Cyprus as well. Although opium can give people a major high it was not always used in that fashion. Opium was a medical herb, it was a pain killer taken the same way we take pain killers today, drunk as a bitter infusion or swallowed as a rolled pellet. Opium contains twenty-four different alkaloids. Morphine is the most abundant in opium and makes up ten percent of opium extract. Morphine was first extracted by a German scientist named Friedrich Serturner. Morphine is a narcotic which is a molecule that can relieve pain and make someone fall asleep. Morphine is made up of Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon, and Oxygen. There have been attempted changes to the morphine molecule to try and make a safer pain killer, but no improvements have been made. From the alterations made, heroin has been created and codeine a safer yet less affective pain killer. In comparison to morphine, nicotine is a molecule just as addicting; it was first introduced to Europe in 1496 when Christopher Columbus brought it back from America. Nicotine can be found in tobacco; tobacco became popular and was used as a large trade item in the 16th and 17th centuries. The nicotine molecule forms a bridge at the junction between nerve cells which increases the transmissions of a neurological impulse. Eventually however the transmission becomes obscured leading to slower muscle movement, hence the reason nicotine slows down heart rate and blood flow, and slows down the amount of oxygen that can go to the brain. Nicotine is very poisonous as much as fifty milligrams could kill an adult. It is a thousand times more poisonous when absorbed through the skin rather then taken orally. This is because when taken orally the lungs can filter out most of the poison from the nicotine, but through the skin the nicotine can seep right into the blood stream unfiltered. The blood stream can also carry the nicotine to any part of the body. Stomach acids can also break down the nicotine molecule. Much of the alkaloid content in tobacco is oxidized to toxic products due to the high temperature of burning. The nicotine molecule is formed with Nitrogen, Carbon, and three Hydrogen. This molecule when altered can actually become something of a necessity. B vitamins are similar structure of nicotine yet not poisonous, but a needed molecule in our bodies. Lastly caffeine is something everyone has tried; although not exactly bad for you it is very addicting. Caffeine is made up of Hydrogen, Carbon, Oxygen, ad Nitrogen. Caffeine is a powerful central nervous stimulant, which can occupy the adenosine receptors giving us caffeine high, and the exact opposite of what happens if we smoke tobacco. It raises our heart rate, and makes muscles more easily contract. Although not as dangerous as morphine and nicotine, caffeine can be deadly it would take an average size adult to drink 55-125 cups at the same time to have a lethal dose. Caffeine, morphine, and nicotine all have their place in society. Nicotine and morphine are both deadly when used wrongly yet with alterations to their molecular form they can become something similar but useful to the human body. Caffeine has been proven to do no harm to the body that is if you do not drink 125 cups coffee at once. All these molecules have created products that have been key in historic trade items.

  • Adam Sugarman

    Morphine, nicotine, and caffeine all satisfy a desire that most humans have. They make one feel good. These molecules found in opium poppy, tobacco, and tea and coffee have been sought out for millenniums, as although they make one feel good their addictive nature they can bring about destruction in different societies.
    Morphine, which is the product of a opium poppy plant, has been used since prehistoric times as a painkiller either drunk or swallowed. Opium provided a dreamlike state of mind that was believed to increase creativity, and since it was cheaper than alcohol it was used by the poor. Opium use was even common in China as a medicinal herb until tobacco arrived in Chinese society. Starting when Christopher Columbus arrived with tobacco from the New World, Tobacco use spread rapidly even though it was banned. Opium was soon banned because of its highly addictive properties, but in a previously opium smoking culture, a distribution market had already been in effect. Morphine, nicotine, and caffeine together broke down Chinese isolation and opened up foreign trade through the Opium wars involving China, Britain, and France.
    The first molecule discussed in Morphine, a addictive product of the opium poppy plant. Used as a medicinal painkiller often, it also used recreationally and numbs the body’s senses and can induce sleep. Morphine makes up roughly 10% of crude opium, which is the dried secretion from the poppy flower. Morphine was first isolated in 1803 by Friedrich Serturner, which he named after Morpheus, the Roman God of dreams. Soon after its discovery and before its chemical structure was known, attempts to alter Morphine underwent. These tests were to see if they could alter Morphine to create a better pain reliever that does not have addictive properties. Although it acts as a strong painkiller because it changes how the body perceives pain, the addictive properties of Morphine are even comparable to heroin; aside from the fact that heroin is easily transported across the blood-brain barrier. Morphine acts like a endorphin, which are the human bodies natural pain reliever that are controlled by the brain in times of stress.
    The second alkaloid discussed in the chapter that was involved in the Opium Wars is nicotine. As seen by Christopher Columbus after he landed in the New World, men and women would “drink” or inhale smoke produced by rolls of burning leaves that were inserted into their nostrils. The inhaled smoke was from Tobacco. Discovered in Latin America and brought back to Europe, Tobacco quickly spread because of its addictive properties that are mostly because of the nicotine included. Nicotine in small doses acts as a restorative and a depressant in large doses. Nicotine became so popular that the supply of Tobacco in Europe could not meet its demands. Colonies began to grow tobacco , but this labor was highly expensive. Nicotine joined glucose, cellulose, and indigo among the molecules used during slavery. In large doses nicotine acts as a lethal poison however, killing an adult in a few minutes. It is proven that nicotine is 1000 times stronger absorbed through the skin than orally, and that nicotine is hazardous because it is absorbed directly from the lungs into the bloodstream.
    The third and final alkaloid discussed in the chapter is Caffeine. Although being a psychoactive drug, Caffeine is freely available around the world without penalty and remains as the most studied drugs globally. Caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, the molecule that induces sleep. By blocking this molecule the bodies heart rate increases, blood vessels constrict and open, and muscles easily contract. Found in over the counter and prescription medicines, Caffeine helps to relieve asthma, treat migraines, and increase blood pressure. Currently there is no study showing caffeine leads to any disease or side effects that may be harmful if not over consumed. Overdose on caffeine is almost impossible, since one would have to drink roughly 55 cups of coffee at once. Tea containing caffeine originally was very expensive and only attained by the wealthy. As time went on Tea grew in popularity in England, which led to tea being a major role in the Opium Wars and the trade in China. Cacao beans were the first source of caffeine in the New World, used in Mexico by Mayan and Toltec cultures. Coffee fueled economic growth and was admired by all of Europe during the seventeenth century. Forests were logged and animals killed to clear land to grow coffee.
    The Opium Wars of the mid 1800s were fueled by the demand of people to have strong painkillers and mind easers. These addictive s provided jobs and contributed to the economy, effected the ecology, contributed to Slavery, propped governments, and spurred trade. This brings the question, do cultures want to ban THC itself, or the feeling that these sort of alkaloids bring?

    • Eric Simone

      in my opinion, the answer to the question “Do cultures want to ban THC itself, or the feeling that these sort of alkaloids bring?” is that they want to ban the feeling it brings. THC has good medical benefits in that it decreases nausea in chemo patients and helps glaucoma patients as well.

  • Adrianna Iacono

    Morphine, Nicotine, and Caffeine

    Molecules have such a huge impact on our lives, more than even we initially may think. There can be molecules that are beneficial to our lives and molecules that do exactly the opposite of beneficiate our lives. Three molecules, often overlooked have had important roles in our lives and have had important roles in history, and these molecules are morphine, nicotine, and caffeine.
    For starters, the molecule morphine comes from the opium poppy and is abundant in Burma, Laos, and Thailand. Opium has within it twenty-four different alkaloids with morphine making up the biggest part of it, a whole ten percent. People have been using and taking the opium poppy for many, many years, and it is still even used today. Originally opium was used strictly as a medical herb, but by the eighteenth century artists, writers, and poets began taking opium to go into the dreamlike state that it induces when taken in order to enhance their creativity; and because it was so cheap it was used as an intoxicant. Opium was first popular in China which is where it started as a medicinal herb, when the last emperor of the Ming dynasty forbid the smoking of tobacco the Chinese most likely started smoking opium as a replacement. When both the alkaloids morphine and nicotine are combined, such as in opium, it becomes highly addictive; this led to the banning of opium. Now, the Chinese had discovered tea, they wanted to sell it for silver and gold but the British were not going to trade like that so the Chinese began to trade their tea for opium. This trading eventually led to the First Opium War (1839-1842) and then to the Second Opium War, and finally the Chinese Revolution of 1911. The author makes a great point when saying, “Opium, tobacco, and tea became responsible for breaking down centuries of Chinese isolation” (249).
    Morphine has been and is one of the most effective painkillers there is out there, however using morphine or other similar painkillers can cause addition. Codeine is a similar compound to morphine, but it is less addictive and less powerful. When comparing the codeine and morphine molecules one can see that the only different is a CH3O replaces a HO. Morphine is also closely related to Heroin, which was originally supposed to be a “hero” drug because of its painkilling power, however it was not long after heroin was created that its addictive side effects were known. Obviously Heroin is illegal today to have, transport, or use, but morphine is still used in hospitals as a painkiller, and has even been changed into other forms such as methadone and meperidine.
    When Christopher Columbus came to the New World he was surprised to see people “drinking smoke”. Eventually he found out these people were smoking tobacco, which is part of the genus Nicotiana and can cause trances or hallucinations. With this discovery the use of tobacco quickly spread about Europe. However eventually the use of tobacco was quickly forbidden in many countries. Tobacco contains at the least, ten alkaloids, and nicotine can be from two to eight percent of the plant depending on various factors. Nicotine can act as a depressant and as a stimulant. Nicotine in doses too large can be lethal, which is why it was used to make synthetic pesticides. Though sometimes dangerous, some forms of nicotine can be very helpful to the human body. Nicotinic acid and pyridoxine are examples of variations of nicotine, which act as B vitamins for our body.
    The last of the molecules associated with the Opium Wars is Caffeine. Caffeine is a psychoactive drug, however it can basically be found everywhere. Caffeine, and variations of Caffeine are commonly found in drinks and act as a stimulant. Theophylline is found in tea and theobromine is found in cocoa, which both have very similar structures to caffeine, usually differing by one element. Though caffeine is so widely used and so popular, it can also be toxic to someone if they take too much, however this is a basically impossible task because one would have to drink between 55 and 125 cups of coffee at one time to get a toxic amount. Because teas and such have been known about for thousands of years it can be said that others have known the effects. Chocolate, contains another type of caffeine in it called anandamide, which is closely related to tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the main active ingredient in marijuana. The author also makes a good point here in saying “what is it aht we want to outlaw, the THC molecule or its mood-altering effect? If it is the mood-altering effect, should we be considering making chocolate illegal?” (265). The way that caffeine came to Europe was through chocolate, and it was just as popular then as it is today. Caffeine has been around for thousands of years, and it is still used in the same ways today.
    Morphine, nicotine, and caffeine each have their benefits and faults, the alkaloids in them change to create different compounds. These compounds are all very similar in that they are all addictive, they all contributed to the Opium Wars, and they all have similar structures. All of these molecules are still used today, and will probably continue to be used for years to come.

    • Becca Taub

      By reading this summary, I learned many new facts about morphine, nicotine and caffeine. One fact that I found very interesting was that nicotine can act both as a stimulant and as a depressant. I also learned about the similarity of the caffeine molecule that is in chocolate to THC, which is found in marijuana. It is so fascinating that there are so many molecules like morphine, nicotine, and caffeine that can be both good and bad for us.

  • Peter Sandilos

    For me what I thought was really cool was how a simple change in the molecule can make it less dangerous. Take morphine for example, it is a very affective pain killer but also very deadly. A simple change taking away HO, and replacing it with CH3O can make Codeine, an effective but less harmful pain killer.

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