Print Friendly, PDF & Email

When it comes to improving brain function, nicotine is king.  There’s quite a few benefits from nicotine that you might not be aware of.

Note: By writing this post, we are not recommending this drug. Some of our readers who were already taking the drug requested that we commission a post on it, and we are simply providing information that is available in the scientific literature. Please discuss your medications with your doctor.



Nicotine, considered a potent nootropic is a naturally occurring liquid alkaloid found in many plants of the nightshade family.

Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and tobacco all contain nicotine, although for humans, tobacco is the only plant containing significant enough quantities to have an effect (R).

Nicotine has recently been under the scope of research examining its beneficial role in ADHD, anxiety disorders, depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, and even cognitive performance in the general population.

**This post is not suggesting to take up smoking as a means for nicotine consumption.

The Good

Contrary to common opinion, nicotine is not a carcinogenic substance, but it may be a ‘tumor promoter’ for some kinds of tumors (R).

While tobacco is quite addictive (R,R2), animal models indicate that nicotine on its own is much less addictive than tobacco (R).

Levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin all increase with nicotine usage(R).

Nicotine stimulates the growth of new blood vessels and increases the number of red blood cells (R).

Growing new blood vessels can help your health and brain function, but it can also promote tumors, even if it doesn’t cause cancer itself.  Therefore, when it comes to cancer, nicotine is somewhat like IGF-1.

1-4) Nicotine Increases Wakefulness, Motivation, Alertness and Creativity


Nicotine is capable of significantly changing the electrical activity in the brain (RR2).

Nicotine puts users into an alpha brain wave state, which is characterized by effortless alertness, attention and creativity (RR2R3).

Nicotine also increases wakefulness, mood and motivation via activating orexin.

Nicotine increases activity across both hemispheres of the brain, also known as bilateral neocortical activation (this is a good thing) (R).

Nicotine improves brain activity in users by enhancing activation in areas associated with visual attention, arousal, and motor activation (R).

Nicotine increases activity in the following regions of the brain: parietal cortex, thalamus, caudate, and occipital cortex (R).

5-7) Nicotine Improves Attention, Memory and Fine Motor Skills


Nicotine has been proven to benefit the brain in the following areas:

  1. Fine Motor Skills
  2. Alerting attention – accuracy and response time
  3. Orienting attention – accuracy and response time
  4. Short-term memory – accuracy
  5. Long-term memory – accuracy
  6. Working memory – accuracy and response time (R)

Nicotine helps to consolidate learned information in the brain (R).

It improves immediate and long term memory in human and animal models (R).

Nicotine has been found to improve performance on attention related tasks and is capable of increasing processing speed for complex tasks (R,R2)

Nicotine significantly boosts cognitive performance by activating the occipital and parietal cortices, which are the command centers for sustained attention and visual processing tasks (R,R2)

Nicotine improves multitasking ability by enhancing executive function, through its modulation of multiple brain networks and transmitter systems (R).

Part of mechanism of memory enhancement might be from nicotine increasing vasopressin in people (R).

8) Nicotine Can Help with ADHD

Nicotine can significantly reduce the severity of clinical symptoms in patients with ADHD (R).

Nicotine has been shown to increase vigor, quicken reaction time, increase attentionand accuracy in non-smoking ADHD patients (R).

Nicotine caused a significant decrease in self-reported depression in ADHD (R).

A nicotine patch may be helpful for ADHD patients with anxiety and depression who are going through withdrawal and wanting to stay Tobacco free (R).

9) Nicotine Acts as a Neuroprotective


There are several mechanisms through which nicotine acts as a neuroprotective:

  • Through estrogen blocking (‘anti-estrogenic effects’)
  • Reducing inflammation (regulates prostaglandin production: prostanoids promote or restrain acute inflammation)
  • Stimulation of nicotinic cholinergic receptors in the brain (R).

10-11) Nicotine is a Preventative and Treatment for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Research on nicotine and neurodegenerative diseases stemmed from the realization that there is a decreased rate of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases in smokers (R, R2).

Nicotine has potential in treating patients with Alzheimer’s (R).

Nicotine patch have been proven to treat cognitive impairments associated with Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and ADHD (RR2).

Nicotine in individuals with Parkinson’s may protect against neural damage and improve both cognitive performance and motor abilities (RR2).

When taking nicotine Parkinson’s patients show increased processing speed of more complex tasks (R).

Animal research models showed nicotine protected against brain damage in dopaminergic pathways typically associated with Parkinson’s (R).

Nicotine, acting on Nicotinic receptors has a beneficial influence on the brain which plays a role in the development of movement and degenerative disorders such as Alzeimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Tourette’s (RR2R3R4).

It is suggested that it is through nicotine’s stimulation of nAChR (nicotinic acetylcholine receptors) it prevents age related, and neurodegenerative mental decline (RR2R3).

In patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, nicotine is thought to maximize the use of dwindling nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Nicotine minimizes the effect of this deficit (RR2).

12) Nicotine is an Anti-inflammatory


Nicotine indirectly through vagal nerve pathways, acts as a suppressor of inflammation (also known as the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway (R, R2).

Nicotine lessens cells’ responsiveness to the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-α (R).

Nicotine reduces IL-2 (Th1 cytokine) and TNF-α production by human blood cells (R).

In healthy mice, Nicotine decreases IL-1ß and TNF-α concentrations in colonic tissue (R).

Nicotine reduces IL-8 in patients with active ulcerative colitis (R).

Nicotinic receptor activators are being explored for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (R).

Bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS) decrease nicotinic receptors (α7 nAChRs) in the mouse brain, exacerbating chronic inflammation, beta-amyloid accumulation and episodic memory decline, which mimics the early stages of Alzheimer’s (R).

This is perhaps why people who get get infections (like CIRS people) often suffer from symptoms that resemble low levels of actetylcholine.

13) Nicotine May Reduce Pain 

In one small study of women conducted after gynecological surgery, those given access to morphine + nicotine scored their pain at much lower levels than women given morphine + placebo (R).

14) Nicotine Helps the Gut

Smoking decreased susceptibility to Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis, and other inflammatory bowel diseases. Clinical evidence suggests that nicotine is responsible for this difference (RR2)

Nicotine is protective in ulcerative colitis by reducing inflammation in the gut barrier, which is a hallmark of inflammatory bowel disease (R).

The use of Nicotine patches for 4-6 weeks resulted in clinical improvement in Ulcerative colitis (R).

Studies show that nicotine prevents the development of ulcerative colitis in healthy individuals, but relapse prevention is less effective with nicotine treatment (R,R2).

Nicotine enhances the protection of the intestinal mucosa by increasing the thickness of mucus in the colon (R).

A dose of 5 mg nicotine (+ carbomer) in 100ml liquid enema, is a therapeutic additive to conventional therapy in the treatment of ulcerative colitis (R).

Nicotine increases acid and pepsin secretions, gut motility and bile secretion (R).

Another study showed that Nicotine can slow the transit time from ingesting food to bowel movements (R).  But my experience is that it makes me go to the bathroom

Another study mentions that Nicotine delays the emptying of contents in the stomach (R).

An increase in nicotine blood levels is directly related to a decrease of blood flow in the rectum (this can be a good thing) (R).

15-16) Nicotine Helps in Weight and Insulin Control 

Nicotine has been shown to suppress appetite and reduce obesity (R).

Nicotine activates POMC neurons, which then go on to activate the melanocortin MC4R receptors.  This increases metabolism and decreases hunger (R).

Through anti-inflammatory pathways, nicotine indirectly decreases obesity byreducing chronic low grade inflammation – a key feature of obesity (R).

Nicotine significantly improves blood sugar balance and insulin sensitivity in both genetically obese and diet-induced obese mice (R).

17) Nicotine Helps Repair Tissue

Low concentrations of topically applied nicotine promotes wound healing (RR2).

This can be done with a Nicotine patch.

Nicotine stimulates the systems in the body which increase growth of tissues andblood vessel capillaries (vasculogenesis and angiogenesis) (R).

In some cases, nicotine is able to repair damage to blood vessels and increase blood circulation, speeding up healing (R).

18) Nicotine Can Help with Schizophrenia 

Nicotine can improve cognitive related symptoms in those suffering from schizophrenia (R).

Nicotine is believed to help to stabilize chaotic dopaminergic activity, improving overall functionality among those with schizophrenia (RR2)

If you are a schizophrenic, you will be more likely to smoke than not. 80% of schizophrenics smoke compared to 25% of the general population (R).

Schizophrenics may be more genetically predisposed to the beneficial effects of nicotine on the brain, and it has been suggested that smoking in schizophrenia may be a form of self-medication in an attempt to treat the underlying disease (RR2, R3)

19) Nicotine Can help with Tourette’s Syndrome 

Nicotine is viewed as a complement to the traditional drugs used to treat Tourette’s (RR2).

Nicotine gum was found to enhance the efficacy of Tourette’s treatment drugs by reducing involuntary-movement symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome (R).

Nicotine patches was superior to a placebo in reducing behavioral symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome when used in combination with treatment drug haloperidol (R).

Administration of 2 mg nicotine gum or 7 mg nicotine patches enhances the therapeutic properties of neuroleptic drugs (R).

This effect of reducing behavioral symptoms continues even after the drug doses are halved, and the nicotine patch had been discontinued (R).

Nicotine patches improves attention and behavior in children and adolescents with Tourette’s syndrome (R).

20-28) Other Interesting Information About Nicotine

Users of Tobacco tend to be associated with lower incidence of:

  1. Uterine fibroids (R)
  2. Canker sores (R)
  3. Endometriosis and endometriosis cancer (R) – nicotinic activators are being explored to treat endometriosis (R)
  4. High blood pressure
  5. Vomiting during pregnancy (R)
  6. Venous thrombosis (probably not causal) (R)
  7. Fatality in heart attacks (probably not causal) (R)

Evidence suggests nicotine is responsible for these correlations (RR2).

Chronic nicotine treatment enhances relaxation of blood vessels in rats (via activation of PKG pathway) (R).

Nicotine is an antidote to Strychnine (a highly toxic pesticide) poisoning. Literature on this from 1862 –  (Here) and more recent literature on this (RR2)

Some Important Mechanisms For How Nicotine Works in The Brain

Nicotine is a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) (R).

MAOIs prevent the breakdown of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain, effectively increasing their levels (R).

Nicotine mimics the effects of acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine is an excitatory neurotransmitter capable of carrying out electrical impulses, making it possible for nerves to communicate (R).

Nicotine acts upon a series of subsets of the nicotinic transmitters, specifically alpha-4:beta-2, and alpha-7 (R).

It is through these receptors that nicotine is able to act upon the brain and parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest part) (R).

Through the alpha-7 receptor specifically, nicotine is able to influence 55 genes (R).

Nicotine also indirectly increases dopamine in the brain (RR2).

Nicotine increases blood flow in the thalamus, occipital cortex, and cerebellum (R).

The Bad 

There are some potential downsides to nicotine.

If you don’t do it in moderation, it can become a problem.

  1. First, it should be used if your brain has fully developed.
  2. Second, if you have or had cancer, it might not be smart to use nicotine.
  3. Third, if you have an H pylori infection, you shouldn’t use nicotine until you get rid of it.

1) It’s Addictive, and Quitting is Difficult 

Trying to quit a nicotine (more specifically Tobacco/smoking) habit may cause strong cravings for the substance, increased appetite, sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal problems, anxiety, anger, frustration, depression, irritability, and restlessness (R).

Nicotine is not a sedative or a relaxant. Studies have shown that the ‘sedative’ or ‘calming’ effect from cigarettes is only due to relieving the symptoms of withdrawal (R).

While short term use of nicotine can have anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects, chronic use can actually result in increased anxiety and depression following withdrawal (R).

2) Nicotine Can Increase Tumor Growth 

Nicotine is a very strong promoter of increased capillary blood vessel growth.

This new growth is usually considered a good thing except in the case of tumors, where nicotine has been shown to increase tumor growth in colon, pancreas, breast, larynx, and lung cancers (RR2R3R4R5).

Nicotine increases the progression and growth of tumors initiated by tobacco carcinogens (R).

Mice treated with nicotine had a nearly 40% higher tumor recurrence after initial tumors were successfully removed (R).

3) Adolescents Should Steer Clear of Nicotine 

Nicotine ingestion shows impairment in the prefrontal cortex in adolescent users (R).

Cigarette smoking and/or nicotine ingestion could impair development of the prefrontal cortex region of the brain in users under the age of 25 (R).

Nicotine use during adolescence actually increases risk of cognitive impairment later in life (R).

Adolescent nicotine use has also been associated with later risk of developing mentaland behavioral problems such as depression, agoraphobia, panic disorder, and antisocial personality disorder (R).

4) Nicotine Increases Risk of H.Pylori

H. pylori infection is more common in smokers, and eradication therapy less effective. Nicotine increases toxin activity of H. pylori in the stomach (R).


Nicotine is a supplement whose dosage is typically self-determined by the individual to reach desired effect. Self dosage typically ranges between 0.2-8.0 mg. A middle range is considered to be between 1-4 mg.

Cigarettes contain roughly 10-20 mg of nicotine with the smoker taking in 1-2 mg of vaporized nicotine per cigarette (R)

Most gums and chews contain 2 mg per piece. It is recommended to limit intake to 24 pieces in a day.  I personally use 1 piece of gum on most days.

Only 10-20% of the nicotine present in a pinch of Swedish snus is absorbed via the mucous membrane and reaches the systemic circulation.

This means that only 1-2 mg of nicotine in snus is absorbed into the blood from a one gram pinch of snus containing 10 mg of nicotine (R).

Chewing tobacco varies widely depending upon the brand and type, containing free nicotine in amounts anywhere from 0.5 to 6 mg per dose (R).

Nicotine patches come in a selection of higher doses (ex. 21 mg/day) which are released over a longer period of time.

Symptoms of Overdose

Nicotine poisoning delivers a biphasic effect — it first acts as a stimulant in the body but rapidly turns into a depressant. Vomiting is the most common symptom of nicotine poisoning and can begin as quickly as 15 minutes after ingestion (RR2).

Nicotine may also cause seizures and involuntary muscle twitching, as well as abnormal heart rhythms, a slow heart rate and fluctuating blood pressure (R).

In high concentrations, nicotine can cause heart failure, muscle paralysis and a buildup of fluid in the lungs’ air passages (R).


Nicotine is lethal if ingested in high enough doses.

An oral dose of 50 to 60 mg of nicotine is enough to kill a 160 lb person (R).

Nicotine overdose can cause death in as little as an hour (R).

Nicotine overdose causes the same response in the body as toxic exposure to organophospate insecticides and nerve agents such as DDT or Sarin gas (R).

Nicotine behaves the same way in the brain as acetylcholine. In excessive amounts, it will overload synapses and disrupt nerve impulses. Over-stimulation of neurons can cause the destruction of brain tissues (R).

Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick

At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.

That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:

  • Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
  • SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
  • SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
  • SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
  • Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
  • Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
  • Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
  • BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
  • SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (48 votes, average: 4.54 out of 5)


  • hayley morgan

    I gave up smoking 21 years ago, and have been plagued with weight gain and illness ever since, I started using nicotine patches around a year ago after connecting all my issues to giving up smoking and I was shocked at the difference I feel when I use them, recently tried to stop using them, I have fibromyalgia and my sleep is horrendous when my sleep is bad my pain increases and my sleep became even worse again, I couldn’t get out of bed yesterday, so I’m back on them as of yesterday today I was able to get up and go shopping with my daughter for the afternoon. Last night’s sleep was OK I would love to have that deep restorative sleep where I wake up feeling refreshed but atleast with the patches I am able to get out of bed of a morning. I don’t know why they help with pain and sleep and I don’t care I’m just greatful that I can function while I’m using them.

  • Bob Maghan

    I smoked for a number of years. I had raging headaches frequently like twice a week. I stopped smoking in 1982. I have had very few headaches since then. I don’t smell bad, my teeth are not yellow, yesterday I rode a bicycle at maximum effort for 31 miles. I am 80 years old with MCI. I can’t think of any reason to resume ingesting nicotine in any form.

  • yogurt

    is there any relation between chnra genes and nicotine benefits?

  • Jason Bussanich

    Crohn’s Improves on Nicotine, UC gets much worse. Could be suggestive of a difference in etiology, IMO.

  • Julie

    I’ve been suffering from constant headaches for many years, sometimes lasting for a month or more. Everyone is my family suffers from headaches. Over the past few months, I’ve had a headache every single day–sometimes it’s crippling pain and sometimes it’s just a background annoyance, but it’s always present. I read somewhere that nicotine can help with headaches. I have never smoked cigarettes, and I’m 63. But I thought I would give it a try. I bought some nicotine gum at Walmart. After seeing that the 4mg pieces and the 2mg pieces were the same price, I bought a box of 4mg gum and cut the pieces in half. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve been headache free most days. I usually chew a half piece (2mg) at a time, sometimes adding a second half. I don’t do this every day, and when I do it’s only once a day. But it’s really astounding how much it’s helped. I’ve also been trying to lose weight, and I’ve noticed that my appetite has decreased and I’m able to eat smaller portions and still feel satisfied. Since I use such a small amount and don’t use it every day, I’m not very worried about getting hooked on the gum. But… even if I *did*, it would be better than the horrible headaches I’ve been suffering from. I’m really glad I discovered this, and the information you’ve presented here makes me feel better about my decision to try it.

  • Spurzo

    The only thing that concerns me is the possibility of tumor growth. I like to use it for mental stimulation and fat loss and only chew 2 mg twice a day at most. You think that low of a dosage is nothing to worry about?

  • Kelsey

    Hi Joe, do you have a brand of lozenges you like?

  • Gershon

    Is there an impact of nicotine on the heart?

    1. Helen

      Hi, there are possible adverse effects of nicotine on the heart.
      “Nicotine may also cause seizures and involuntary muscle twitching, as well as abnormal heart rhythms, a slow heart rate and fluctuating blood pressure.

      In high concentrations, nicotine can cause heart failure, muscle paralysis and a buildup of fluid in the lungs’ air passages.”
      You can also check this article

  • ofek

    Is it safe to use nicotine gum at age 20? At a dose of 4 mg nicotine a day (two gums of 2 mg)?

    1. Helen

      There are a few immediate side effects (nausea, indigestion, headaches) when using nicotine gum. It may also have negative effects on heart blood flow.

  • Luulz

    It’s the contrary. Recent studies indicates that nicotine administration causes prolonged depression of GABAergic firing.

  • James

    What do you make of this study that shows nicotine reduces hippocampal plasticity?

    It seems hard to determine “how negative” that effect is. e.g. if I’m doing everything else right (exercise, pro-neurogenesis diet and supps), is nicotine a few times a week really going to have a major impact on my hippocampus? Hopefully not. But how can we tell…

  • Sita

    What brand/type of nicotine do you use? Thanks!

  • [email protected]

    what about occasionally vape ecigs, every time I do i benefit from the relaxation/adhd benefits but feel sick to my stomach for days. I enjoy rolling my own but that was hard on my lungs and time consuming….any thoughts? I may try to lozengazes

    1. Jan

      use smaller amount of nic like 3mg. and use small tank like nautilus mini. wont overdos you.
      stomach sick is overdosage of niccotine

  • Samuel

    I’m getting different answers Organizations, some say that nicotine help control seizures an calm the brain. Others say the opposite.. which is true.
    I’m currently not a smoker yet I have epilepsy that is uncontrollable..

    1. Catherine

      HI Samuel, I have been vaping Nicotine oil for 4 mo. now and it has helped shut the Nerve Pain light switch out surrounding your Brain. I don’t have seizures but I do have 3 Head Injuries, and severe Fibro, and also migraines that used to level me. So trying CBDs nothing, no matter if it was pot or hemp. But I saw a news release about this, and so did my Doctor. So for the first time in 19yrs, I vaped Nicotine oil, got it from Walmart 6mgs at cig checkout. Strawberry Shortcake, and so is the steam from it. But it turned off my pain, I also have several herniated discs in my back and it’s designegrating. But what I say is, no one is the same, and like me I just had to give it a test, after all had someone not tested it first. We wouldn’t be speaking now~

  • Dennis Knöper

    i feel worse on nicotine . ihave mold ilssness . do u know why ? i have symptoms of low acetylcholine but tried nicotine without alpha gpc

    1. [email protected]

      what mold illness? I think i may have one undiagnsed

  • Frank

    You mention early in the piece that you use lozenges. Later in the piece you state that you use gum. I’m new to the site but this detail hurts credibility.

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      I use both.

    2. Sophia


  • Jake

    I think the meta-analysis is drawing false conclusions. They merely found that adolescents who smoke have worse cognitive function. This can easily be explained by the fact that nicotine is a powerful nootropic.

    Smoking is heavily stigmatized. Those who smoke probably fit in either or both of these categories:
    1). They don’t care about their health, and/or are “stupid” enough to continue smoking despite thinking it’s unhealthy. They probably take health risks in all aspects of their life… Drugs, bad diet, ect.
    2). Those who continue to smoke despite huge stigmatization probably smoke because they notice a clear benefit from nicotine/tobacco.

    I think it’s clear why those who smoke tobacco perform worse on various tests of cognitive function. They smoke because they are self-medicating in a way, to increase focus and thinking. Various studies have shown that nicotine improves cognition, so it’s unlikely it’s making them dumber.

    It’s also clear why those who smoke have higher incidences of mood disorders. People with mood disorders are self-medicating because tobacco is very calming and can improve mood. It’s likely those with mood disorders also self-medicate with a variety of other drugs as well. Schizophrenics, as you said, are a great example of people with mood disorders self-medicating.

    And finally, it’s easily explained why the cognition of smokers deteriorate as they get older. Those who smoke probably have health issues in the first place, and they likely don’t take action in improving their health, so as the years go by they slowly become dumber and dumber.

    Nicotine increases GABA interneurons ability to fire (shuts down non-essential pyramidal cells nearby, very important for working memory), upregulates nACHRs (At the right dose, can enhance pyramidal neuron firing for the task at hand, being investigated as a treatment for schizophrenia), and increases mGlur2 (inhibits cAMP, which can shut down pyramidal neurons via HCN channels in the mPFC, being investigated as a treatment for schizophrenia. Fun fact: mGlur2 may be responsible for the hallucinations of psychedelics, as 5-HT2A blocks mGlur2, leading to enhanced and chaotic glutamate release). These are all imperative for working memory. Also, the authors of the meta-analysis you linked seem to have no idea of the intricacies of working memory: “Thereby, an up-regulation of mGluR2 receptor levels diminishes activity of excitatory glutamatergic synapses in the PFC. Thus, increases in functional nAChR on inhibitory neurons and increased nicotine-stimulated excitation in deep layers of the PFC may be counteracted by reduced excitatory synaptic activity mediated by increased mGluR2 activity.” Maybe I’m interpreting what they’re saying wrong.

    According to the study, nicotine also increases (in the PFC) CREB (Tons of downstream benefits, including BDNF. However it is associated with cAMP, which is bad for working memory. However, nicotine seems to cancel out any negative effects that cAMP. Also, just because CREB is elevated doesn’t mean cAMP is.), ERK (long-term memory, not sure if good in PFC), and Dendrin (we still don’t know much about Dendrin, other than that sleep deprivation decreases it. Dendrin is associated with synaptic plasticity, memory, and cytoskeletons. Nicotine increase Dendrin only in adolescents).

    Nicotine also upregulates orexin.

    Nicotines buzz is thought to occur via ghrelin mediated dopamine release in the ventral tegmental are.

    Nicotine is a mitochondrial uncoupler.

    According to Jack Kruse: “Nicotine slightly increases glucose levels to give a small superoxide pulse. This pulse make the perfect amount of singlet state ROS/superoxide to be the stimulus to lower the % of heteroplasmy in our cells. This small stimulus does two key things: 1. the small stimulus stimulates regeneration programs in us. 2. It stimulates mitophagy to recycle heteroplasmic poor functioning mitochondria to make new mitochondria and dig yourself out of the hole called mitochondria senescence.”

    From the authors:
    “Although these findings only describe direct changes after nicotine exposure, altered expression of genes involved in neuroplasticity can lead to structural changes in PFC neurons that last into adulthood. Indeed, repeated nicotine exposure also changes the structure of neurons in medial PFC: it increases both dendritic length and spine density “.
    Seems like a good thing to me. PFC complexity and growth is probably associated with intelligence, and the lack of (degeneration) is associated with schizophrenia.

    The links they cite showing nicotine negatively effecting rats are also disingenuous, though they may not realize it. In one study on rats, they used 25 day old rats, which can be thought of as being two years old. In both rat studies, they exposed the rats to nicotine regularly during adolescence, then cut them off during testing. Subsequently, the rats exposed to nicotine performed worse on tests of memory or intelligence. It should come as no surprise that baby and adolescent rats exposed to nicotine, then cut off, then tested, would perform worse, as nicotine is not perfect, and is bound to change cognition negatively when the user is cut off the drug. The way they went about these studies isn’t accurate towards how real people use nicotine in real life.

    The thing I like about nicotine, is that not only does it have a huge amount of health benefits, but also doesn’t cause tolerance to develop, unlike normal agonists. It is able to incease nACHRs through a complex method of either stabilizing existing receptors, or chaperoning receptors in the cytoplasm, allowing them to be used instead of contained in vesicles. Nicotine is probably one of, if not the best nootropic, as it tunes everything almost perfectly towards improved working memory, and overall memory, whilst giving you motivation and a buzz at the same time (though truthfully that buzz starts to lessen as usage increases).

    Though it is better to play it safe and warn your younger readers not to use nicotine.

    Personal bias: I smoke daily and am a contrarian.

  • JPieski

    Correction sorry: “30 times that amount.”

  • Joanna

    Thanks for this

  • Arieh Shishirin

    I have found nicotine to be mildly addictive AND anti addictive , it breaks your bad habits (see “ugh zone” articles on lesswrong)
    if used correctly and is quite helpful for weight loss dosage should be cycled from 1mg upwards to 3-4mg 2-3 times daily, after already engaging in the good habit you with to reinforce, you’d need to use it for a few weeks at the least to notice the reinforcing effects and tolerance would build up (and rapidly degrade) during this time.

    on addiction : quitting is easy as there are no serious withdraws from using it at low doses (as opposed to caffeine for example, or certain SSRIs) and cycling it is pretty important due to the fact that were dealing with a high level dopaminergic (a substance that deals with reward) I find using nicotine is more beneficial than it is not at least for my case (20+ adult with refractive adhd)
    you generally do not get cravings for more initially but you do notice wanting to use it in broader context, this is when naive people would increase their usage and the typical addiction cascade would manifest. a smarter person would cycle off it (a week is sufficient to restore all the benefits)

    on euphoria : when cycled properly and tolerance kept to a minimum 0.5mg-2mg should be the range where positive mood effects happen, they last about 30m and are rather mild in intensity, but you seem to get a net benefit in mood and productivity relative to say , eating a snack.

    on usage protocols: you would want to start at 0.5mg and titrate to about 1mg for the first few days , use it after 20minutes of engaging in something both *active* and outside your comfort zone, use it only for one thing at a given cycle, limit your intake to 4mg a day at first. slowly allow yourself to raise the dose to 2mg(tolerance should build over weeks) and 8-12mg a day while still using it for the one activity you want to reinforce, don’t be tempted to use it outside this context ( appetite control/mood brightening are possible temptations you need to ignore)
    after 2mg doesn’t affect you I would suggest cycling off. most of the cue to use it would come from the one activity you reinforced ( search : “putting on cue”) however you will be able to consolidate that without the nicotine fairly easily.

    on logistics :
    half life is 1-2 hours , good sources are gum ( get nicotex from ebay ) or diluted e liquid solutions (25mg/ml 100ml costs almost nothing) split a 4mg gum to 4 units.

    on weight loss :
    nicotine is a potent thermogenic and lipolytic in its own right for the 1-2 hours that its in your system it would make you generate a lot of heat, partition things away from fat storage and generate weight loss. it will also reduce your appetite and insulin sensetivity/secretion, for this reason I only use it when fasting AND at least mildly hungry (insulin resistance is beneficial in the short term during fasting since it spares glucose , in a nutshell)

    risks I have encountered :
    used it for euphoria initially, built up quite a habit (5 gums a day?) cycled off for a year, did this again after a year and again cycled off, finally realized how to properly benefit from this after trial and error.

    On smoking : please don’t smoke, if you do smoke, please consider doing research on vaping, it will save you money and make you more pleasant to be around for other people (even when you don’t smoke)

  • Relentless

    I remember reading a study showing smoking highly increased the rate where chrons, uc etc got worse and needed surgery. Prob doesn’t apply to non smoking…

    I’ve used all forms of nicotine for 3 years now and my anxiety and panic gets worse with use now and it increases my stress greatly. (I’m 21 started at 18, smoked then went to snus now oral spray)

    The for the info,I’ll stay clear until I’m 25-26

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.