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Madame Psychosis Summary - Pt 2

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by , 04-19-2010 at 09:34 AM (3715 Views)
Part 1. The X-Factor

Does this sound familiar?
After two or three weeks of vaping, there’s a sense of depression, anxiety, lack of concentration, or other symptoms suggesting that vaping is not doing the same thing as cigarettes were. Something isn’t right.

You might have smoked two packs of 100s a day, or a half-pack of ultralights a day.
You might be vaping 36mg or 12mg.
You might have tried every solution out there to make vaping work – quality equipment, good liquid, behavior changes.
But in the end, smoking was providing something that vaping doesn’t.

Here are some experiences that may ring true.
Yes, I still got a "buzz" every morning with the first of the day and anytime I went a longer than normal period without. Ecigs don't provide that. Like my tobacco, it didn't take me long to locate and buy the highest strength nic (75mg) I could find to reproduce the same effect. I found out I could get myself feeling oogy, but that's as far as it went, no "buzz", the feeling of calm, brain stimulus […] I've described to my wife (a lifetime non-smoker) it's kind of like being in a mental desert. Just kind of a constant mood instead of the rewarding uplift, satisfying focus I got after having a smoke.
The "relax" factor is there but the "concentration" factor is not.
I Enjoyed a Cigarette. I don't enjoy Vaping. It is something i do to keep my Nicotine Level up and to stop me from smoking an analogue.
I felt satisfied and "normal" vaping once. It involved using 48mg liquid non-stop (no breath of fresh air between drags) for over an hour straight.

Otherwise, I was useless at work (terrible concentration/focus issues) unless I had a cigarette every now and then. And I'd develop a horrendous headache that at first I thought was caused by too much nicotine.. until I discovered that just a couple of drags from a cigarette made it disappear instantly. Hmm...
What confuses me is that my brother consistently smoked three or four packs of full flavor cigs a day... in some cases, unfiltered rollies.. and yet he is satisfied on 24mg and gets a buzz from 36mg….
Hopelessness, lack of motivation, lack of appetite, poor concentration, etc. Nicotine alone helps but still leaves me in a very bad place, even after months without tobacco of any kind.
I could never quit using e-cigs, not even close. I could vape for an hour straight and I still needed a cig.
I'm now into my fourth month of vaping and I'm still having one or two cigarettes a day. The crazy thing is that they taste a bit foul now, and I no longer enjoy smoking them. But they satisfy (minimally) a need for something I'm not getting in the vapor.

This is just a small sample.
Many posts pointed out that there is a group that just can’t vape enough. Or they find themselves unable to break the habit of smoking. Or nicotine alone just doesn’t feel good.

Maybe you’re trying to increase your nicotine – 24, 36, even 48mg or more to find that buzz, that clarity or calm from cigarettes. We think more nicotine will be the solution. So we keep vaping more and using higher-milligram levels, thinking we’ll feel satisfied finally. Some of us vape ourselves sick trying to find it.

That’s a sign something is missing.

The key:
Tobacco is more than just nicotine.

[Note: I left out the usernames in case people didn't want to be cited - I couldn't decide whether or not to totally anonymize, so I left the post numbers for reference.]

2. The Rest of Tobacco
Why do smoking cessation treatments fail so badly for so many?

Tobacco research took a wrong turn somewhere, as DVap put it.
Smoking cessation treatments focus entirely on nicotine replacement, or in the case of Chantix (varenicline) and Wellbutrin (Zyban, bupropion), on the nicotinic receptors in the brain.

Nicotine is the most common (90%) alkaloid in tobacco, but there are others: anatabine, anabasine, nornicotine, and several more.
Some of these (such as anabasine) work in a similar manner to nicotine. We don’t fully understand how the chemical “stew” works in synergy.

What we do know is that these other alkaloids are psychoactive: they all exert some action on the brain. It follows that they were all, to some extent, part of the psychological and physical sensations we craved in tobacco.

One particular group of psychoactives in tobacco stands out: the beta-carboline alkaloids, which act as MAO inhibitors (MAOIs). The ones in tobacco are known as harman and norharman.
They exist in tiny quantities in tobacco smoke, but multiple that by 20-40+ cigarettes per day, every day, and over time they have a considerable effect.

MAO inhibitors vary in their chemical structure (as well as in side effects and drug interactions, etc.), but virtually all MAOI-acting chemicals have some kind of antidepressant action.

Monoamine oxidase (MAO) is an enzyme present throughout the body and brain that breaks down excess neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and phenethylamine.

So, an MAOI both raises and prolong the rush from nicotine, by inhibiting the breakdown of dopamine which is released by nicotine.
By increasing the brain concentration of serotonin and norepinephrine, MAOIs also act as antidepressants.

For those who find anxiety, stress, insomnia or depression a problem after switching from smoking to vaping, this offers a very plausible explanation.
(And for those who find digestive disorders, such as constipation, a particular problem after switching from smoking to vaping, there is a good reason: Serotonin receptors in the gut also regulate digestion and elimination. This is why antidepressants are often used for irritable bowel syndrome [IBS].)

kinabaloo posted some information about MAOIs and addictiveness here.

One interesting point is that in several animal studies, nicotine alone is not especially addictive – it’s difficult to get rats or monkeys to self-administer nicotine (i.e. become dependent upon it). When given in conjunction with an MAOI, the self-administration of nicotine jumps.

Translation: With an MAOI in the mix, nicotine feels a lot better.

Moreover, long-time smokers show a significant inhibition of MAO in the body and brain – almost as much as people taking a pharmaceutical MAOI antidepressant.

Translation: We smokers have gotten used to having MAO inhibition, and a higher level of certain neurotransmitters. We've been taking a psychoactive drug all these years. And we stopped it when we switched to vaping.

So, are the beta-carboline MAOIs the main piece we are missing when we switch from smoking to vaping? It’s a very plausible explanation at this point. Keep in mind that it is only a good hunch. There’s much unknown about how the other alkaloids work.

The major point remains: There are components to tobacco other than nicotine.

That remaining 10% of the alkaloids in tobacco are, in a sense, the essential puzzle pieces for some.

Onto Part 3

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Updated 06-29-2010 at 05:09 AM by DVap



  1. Dr.Jerryrigger's Avatar
    Thanks for the write up. Quite interesting, and made me really want a real smoke. Yet at the same time makes me want to be done with them.

    I'm new to vaping, only three days so far. I haven't lit up since I started, but something is defiantly lacking even though I've been taking in many times as much nicotine as I ever did smoking. I've felt some mild withdrawals which I've been covering with excessive vaping.

    Any idea if concentrated tobacco extracts have any of these missing chemicals?
  2. cigarbabe's Avatar
    I have found that using WTA juices has helped to alleviate most of my depressive symptoms and it has given me better cognition and focus. I was also able to sleep which I'd previously had horrible problems trying to do. I like to use it first thing in the morning and before I go to bed. I normally have a device in each hand when up but when I use WTA I stop vaping completely for a couple hours and the effect can last for as long as four hours for me personally.
  3. timbit's Avatar
    Here! Here! (let's add an extra here for good measure) HERE!

    I spent a couple weeks (I think, the time line is a little hazy) in hospital (the biggest behavior mod 1 could ask for) with only vaping to get me by & literally within an hour of being discharged I had a smoke (I know bad stupid boy)... Here I was theoretically over the hump of withdrawal & like always I feel nacho into the same old habit...

    The thing is I've always had issues with nicotine only therapies... I never felt right no matter what the nicotine level... With nicotine replacement therapies like the gum, patches, etc the first few hours felt fine & then the withdrawals would start & get worse & worse until I finally fell off the wagon. I could literally use 2 of the highest patches (bad idea btw) or 3 or more of the highest level gums simultaneously (extremely bad BAD idea, NOT recommended AT ALL, stupid really) & yet I had the same effect... Immediate symptom relief for the first few hours initially & then bad withdrawal I could never get through, no matter how patient I was. I could literally make myself violently ill with nicotine poisoning & still be completely in withdrawal...

    I had the same effect with nicotine receptor meds like zyban, Champix, etc & despite being told I should experience withdrawal &/or get any effect from smoking, I could be on the highest dosage with significant side effects & still have withdrawals that when I smoked (even if the nicotine made me sick, as some of those drugs are supposed to do) I immediately felt better & the withdrawals went away... Even when I confined PRN (as needed) nicotine replacement with the pharmaceutical therapies, I only got sick but had no reduction (much less elimination of) the withdrawal symptoms...

    I long ago figured out that there was something else besides nicotine that was complicating the (at the very least my personal) addiction... Admittedly this was long before anyone was vaping, much less using WTAs, so while I could identify a bunch of chemicals in tobacco, cigarettes & cigarette smoke that are either known to be or possibly are psychoactive... There was no way I was going to randomly trial each of them until I figured out which (assuming it was a single one & not more complicated) one was the solution. There are far more then the 4 or 5 called WTAs, there are literally hundreds, with some being more or less dangerous...

    I also couldn't be sure that it wasn't a piece of the psychological or physical addiction to smoking into I tried vaping. With vaping it felt just like smoking but I still had the same effects, the only reason I didn't start back smoking sooner was because I was still in the hospital at that point.

    Another interesting point (without trying to give TMI) I have digestive problems that are similar but not the same as or actually IBS/IBD (I have a rare genetic disorder that's caused severe damage to my digestive system) & every morning when I smoked I would use cigarettes to induce bowel movements (sorry if that's TMI), a couple of smokes & I was good to go (again sorry if TMI). It worked far better then pharmaceuticals & since I already was smoking I figured why not. Interestingly doctors used to prescribe smoking (to good effect) for a wide range of health conditions before the dangers were understood; IBS/IBD were near miraculously treated by smoking & some doctors will even suggest a smoking trial (1 or 2 cigarettes once a day) to patients with treatment resistant IBS/IBD to typically good effect (though some will have refractory symptoms)... This isn't to say that anyone should try to self treat/diagnosis with smoking, its just a comment on reality. What's especially interesting is that those same people rarely find any significant benefit from using nicotine therapies alone, which is why the doctor who prescribe smoking don't prescribe any of the multitude of available NRT, they just either don't work or are not as effective. The other interesting thing is that every time I've tried to quit (even with NRTs) I always had impossible digestive symptoms that only went away with smoking.

    Something I hadn't connected with smoking though makes sense was that I always need very high strength cigarettes, in fact there were only a handful of brands of the hundreds, if not thousands of brands out there that I found particularly satisfying or particularly useful & they were always the highest nicotine (often termed the harshest) available, even at the beginning when I just started smoking. I could literally chain smoke multiple of the so called light/ultralight smokes & not get to what felt right.this is despite initially starting with DuMaria (sp?) 100s. Generally speaking my favorites were John Players Special, Canadian Classics, Expert A (green) & John Players Standard, with John Players Special (i.e. JPS or black death) being my go to if I could afford it.

    Now a days even vaping the highest concentrations commercially available (i.e. 24mg/ml) & aging nicotine up to (60mg/ml) only made me stick with nicotine poisoning (my own addition of 45mg/ml & above) without relieving the withdrawals... The only thing thus far that helps is smoking, even though I don't like or want to smoke & hate myself for it).

    So now I am waiting for the WTAs to arrive & praying (despite not being a religious man by any definition) for it to work... Assuming it does, I plan to order (I have a source for the individual chemicals in WTAs) the different chemicals & test them one by one to see if A) its an individual chemical causing the effect or assuming it isn't then try different combos to see B) which combination is the most effective. If I don't need all of the chemicals or in different ratios/amounts, I am going to find out because it seems to me that with WTAs we're just throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall & seeing what sticks... especially when we consider that there is literally hundreds, if not thousands of other possible chemicals in smoking that could be causing these effects.

    I really hope that the WTAs are the answer I'm looking for because I know without any shadow of any doubt that nicotine alone isn't the answer for me, neither is mimicking the physical act &/or sensations of smoking. I know some will suggest its just a placebo effect &/or psychological effect of smoking, I know for me at least that it isn't. Apart from the fact that I have never experienced the placebo effect Eeyore multiple blind challenges where I didn't know I was being tested & believed it to be a real drug with real effects; my situation is to obvious. Long before I knew there was even anything aside from nicotine causing addiction in cigarettes & even when I believed that NRT was sufficient to completely overcome the physical addiction, I have never had decent relief from the withdrawals... The reality is for me with my heart & other health problems, withdrawal in potentially very dangerous, even fatal... The option of just going cold turkey isn't a good one & to be frank doesn't work for me. Maybe others can but I don't have much of a life expectancy to begin with & if I will have to spend what little time I have left like this with these withdrawals, I'ld rather just smoke. I didn't choose to quit because I wanted to length my potential life span, I choose to quit to improve my quality of life, so if I have to vape 80% of the time & smoke the other 20% just to have a decent quality of life, that's what I'll do... I just hope that WTAs are the answer I am looking for because I don't want to smoke if I don't have to.

    Sorry for the long winded rant but I just got an equally long, if not longer lecture from a retailer listed here as selling WTAs, who chastised me for considering WTAs, basically saying it was all in my head, that I should get my doctor to give me psych meds for my "obvious" psych problems, assumed I didn't know squat &/or didn't do any research on the subject & am a stupid follower jumping the band wagon.