To be clear, I’m not saying to start smoking. Cigarettes and cigars are loaded with carcinogens in the paper and filters. Unfortunately, people think negatively about nicotine because of cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products. But nicotine is only mildly addictive. The reason behind the addiction to tobacco products is other chemicals in the products that enhance the addiction. Likewise, it is these other chemicals that cause cancer.
However, nicotine – as a supplement, is healthy for you. Aside from being found in tobacco, smaller amounts are found in eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes, and other vegetables and herbs in the nightshade family. Nicotine is actually in the same chemical family as caffeine.
Our brains actually have receptors called nicotinic receptors – guess why? That’s right, our brains have receptors for nicotine!
Epidemiological data has long shown that smokers are actually less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. Because of the close association nicotine has with cigarettes and their ills, it’s been tough for researchers to get funding for human studies, but years of research on other mammals has yielded some pretty positive results and led to a large trial funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation that’s currently underway.
It’s been observed that nicotine appears to reduce the loss of neurons that produce dopamine in the brain, which is one reason why it may have applications for Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Nicotine is a powerful alertness enhancer and stimulant. In numerous studies, nicotine improves attention and processing speed. For those who enjoy a cup of coffee, this is a stimulant with many of the same effects.
Nicotine can reduce the severity of ADHD symptoms and increase attention span. Given the alternative to nicotine is amphetamine-based Adderall, it may not be a bad replacement.
Rarely do focus and concentration go hand in hand with memory and learning. Nicotine helps increase long term memory in both humans and animals. The compound can also help with the memory consolidation (learning) process as well. One theory suggests that nicotine is useful as a memory enhancer because it can increase a hormone called vasopressin, but there are probably many mechanisms at play.
Nicotine helps to block estrogen, stimulate nicotinic cholinergic receptors in the brain, and reduce inflammation. In numerous studies, nicotine can reduce signs of inflammation.
Creativity is one of the cognitive metrics most biohackers and nootropics lovers try to achieve. Many are microdosing with LSD, but research suggests nicotine might be a useful tool. By increasing alpha brain waves, nicotine acts similar to L-theanine in creating a mental state prone to creativity. Unlike L-theanine, there is no risk of sleepiness accompanying nicotine.
Another benefit of nicotine includes increasing activity between the two hemispheres of the brain (called bilateral neocortical activation). Combined with increased brain activity in many visual and related parts of the brain, the chemical concoction from nicotine creates a mental state of flow and creativity.
Nicotine suppresses appetite. If you’re looking to lose weight and you’re getting food cravings, a small dose of nicotine could help eliminate them. This may be the reason why, after quitting smoking, many wind up eating more than they used to – and gain unwanted weight in the process.
To avoid the carcinogens in cigarettes and cigars, and still get the benefits of nicotine, you could utilize:
- Add foods of the nightshade family to your diet