10). Potential Health Benefits of Nicotine that You Should Know (USED)

March 07, 2022 4 min read

Potential Health Benefits of Nicotine that You Should Know

It’s ridiculous how nicotine has got a bad reputation due to its association with smoking. This chemical substance is only one constituent of tobacco, and a lot of people accuse it to cause all the harms of smoking. But in reality, nicotine shares cigarettes with over 4,000 different chemicals, including compounds that trigger cancer. These other components in burning tobacco cause disease and death except tobacco.

Now let’s continue…

It is quite unfortunate that nicotine is banned for health problems and diseases it does not cause, including emphysema and cancer. The worst part is that people often ignore or suppress the actual health benefits of nicotine.

You are surprised, right? Well, don’t be yet, because apart from the fact that nicotine does not cause cancer, this chemical compound may even be a possible solution for neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. It may be a useful ingredient for effective weight loss therapies, and a federally funded clinical trial has been looking into nicotine as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Also, nicotine has been proven to help boost memory and improve other cognitive functions.

Despite the misunderstanding carried around by the press and the public about nicotine, researchers have recognized the possible benefits of nicotine, and are seeking new ways nicotine can help improve lives.

Potential health benefits of nicotine that you should know

Now that we’ve revealed the truth about nicotine and how it not the culprit in most diseases, let’s move on to talk about some potential health benefits of this substance that you should know:

Nicotine and obesity

Nicotine has long been confirmed to act as a weight suppressant. Little wonder most smokers tend to gain weight after they quit smoking.

A study has clearly shown that nicotine triggers the body to burn fat cells. It affects metabolism this way through a process called thermogenesis.

Nicotine stimulates a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor called CHRNA2. This receptor regulates nicotine dependence in brain cells. This process of stimulation activates the thermogenic or beige fat cells to burn.

A paper published in 2017 by scientists in the UK suggested that vaping e-cigs containing nicotine and flavours could help deliver similar weight and appetite control effects as smoking.  

Nicotine and people with ADHD

People with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder may benefit from the use of nicotine.

According to the director of the Center for Cognitive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Paul Newhouse, in a 2004 study, which he co-authored with Alexandra Potter, “nicotine administration has a positive effect in adolescents living with ADHD. This substance has a cognitive/behavioural inhibition effect, which is at least comparable to methylphenidate (Ritalin).

Nicotine and Parkinson’s disease

Nicotine has been shown to bind with nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the brain and other parts to stimulate several effects.

This receptor system is intended to bind with acetylcholine- which is a neurotransmitter that controls muscle contraction, regulates inflammation, and stimulates the secretion of other important neurotransmitters like endorphins, serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and glutamate.

What makes nicotine addictive is the rush of dopamine it causes in the brain when it’s delivered rapidly. It creates that reward of pleasure when you smoke a cigarette, and many people can’t help but try it again and again for that feeling.   

But dopamine does more than create pleasure; it also helps to reduce or prevent uncontrolled movement like the palsies in people with Parkinson’s disease.

The progression of Parkinson’s disease often leads to the death of neurons that produce dopamine. And traditional treatments like levodopa often cause another disorder – dyskinesia, which involves sudden movements of the head, hands, and torso.

Studies have also shown that cigarette smokers have a lower risk of having Parkinson’s disease than non-smokers.

Nicotine and short-term memory

One of the most widely recognized benefits of nicotine is its ability to enhance short-term memory.

A study conducted on 10 smokers and 10 non-smokers had them complete short-term memory tasks after giving them either nicotine gum or a placebo.

The result shows that nicotine helped boost the performance of memory reaction time for information already present in short-term memory. But nicotine didn’t have any effect when the information was absent from memory.

Hence, the author suggests that nicotine facilitates the processing of information already in short-term memory.

Nicotine and athletic performance

 Many athletes are quick to try nicotine for enhanced performance, particularly in complex sports. The reaction time and better short-term memory are valuable functions.

The good part is that nicotine is legal in the sporting world. However, some stadiums in America are tobacco-free by law or rule.

A 2017 review of 10 studies conducted to determine the effect of nicotine on athletic performance shows that athletes perform better when they use nicotine products. Little wonder snus is common among elite athletes from Norway, Finland, and Sweden.

The athletes from these studies report that the use of smokeless tobacco improves reaction time and concentration, prevents dry mouth, helps relaxation, and controls weight.

Nicotine and Schizophrenia brain activity

Most schizophrenia sufferers smoke cigarettes and they smoke about six times higher than the general population. Many health experts have called this a form of self-medication.

However, a study conducted by Uwe Maskos showed the discovery of a genetic mutation linked with the cognitive problems of schizophrenic patients. And this explains why most people living with this condition smoke.

More so, the study shows how nicotine normalises brain activity in schizophrenic patients with the mutation.

Final Remark

Nicotine is present in tobacco but it does not cause any form of disease or ailment. Instead, this compound is highly beneficial for numerous health functions. Several studies have shown that nicotine helps boost weight loss, reduces the risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, boosts memory, has a cognitive/behavioral inhibition effect, and normalise brain activity in schizophrenic patients.

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