Nicotine as a substance improving cognitive abilities : prevention against Parkinson?

Nicotine is a substance that occurs naturally in a form of alkaloid in the parts of tobacco plant (Nicotiana Tabacum) and our ancestors have started using nicotine as a stimulant and nootropic 2000 years ago. Nicotine can be also manufactured synthetically. Nicotine is an addictive substance that has a large impact on our central nervous system. It act mostly as a stimulant, but the effect of nicotine differs dependently on dose and form.

Nicotine and its impact on neurotransmiters

  After nicotine usage, there is a cascade of neurotransmiters that are being impacted – serotonin ( impacts cardiovascular system , and impacts most of neuropsychological processes) , norepinephrine (plays important role in depression treatment ), dopamine ( impact motor skills and motivation , it is a part of a reward system in the brain) , beta endorphins (work as endogenous opioids, impact hunger , emotions and manages pain – study have shown that it has strong antinociceptive effect), and acetylcholine (it impacts sleep regulation, impact the ability to store new memories and use them later).

Possible nicotine uses

It is known that nicotine is one of  the main components in cigarettes. It is also used in different forms when someone is trying to stop smoking. Even if many people does not know , nicotine has a lot of potential uses and has a variety of positive and negative effects. Because of its effect on neurotransmiters, it is used in treatment of various diseases and to support cognitive function. Based on pubmed article, it is used as an anxiolytic , and it helps release beta-endorphins. It is often part of anxiolytic drugs, that focus on anxiety elimination and muscle relaxation. Nicotine also acts as immunomodulator.

Even if most people know nicotine as a substance found in cigarettes, it is available in many forms. You can find it in a form of clear, yellow , or brown substance. It is often found in a form of gums, pastilles, nasal sprays, inhalers or transdermal patches, that are used in cigarettes addiction treatment.

Nicotine as a stimulant and sedative

As mentioned above, nicotine is mostly known as a stimulant, but it can work as a sedative as well. Using

nicotine affects adrenaline, which impacts breathing frequency, increases heart rate, heart muscle starts using more oxygen than usual and blood pressure is impacted as well. Nicotine also inhibits Insulin secretion, and that impacts blood glucose. Nicotine also impacts the brain, more specifically reward center, which stimulates dopamine release. It is reaction similar to reaction to cocaine or heroin ( However much weaker reaction). Dopamine is a pleasure neurotransmiter and impact the way we feel hapiness or pain. At the other hand, nicotine causes addiction and people may experience withdrawal after they stop using it. The symptoms of withdrawal are worsened mood, anxiety and depression, irritability , nausea , and inability to focus.

We can not forget about the negative effects of nicotine

Even if nicotine served in proper form can have beneficial effects, we can not forget about the negative side effects that are associated with tobacco use. Excessive use of tobacco products negatively impact blood flow and increases risk of blood cloth production. It negatively impacts sleep quality , especially REM phase of sleep (during night time, it repeats multiple times and it makes up to 20-25 percent of the total sleep time). Smokers more often suffer from nightmares and bad dreams. It can be caused by the fact, that nicotine modulates acetylcholine levels and acetylcholine is responsible for the sleep control.

Excessive use of tobacco products negatively impacts digestion as well. It can contribute to diarrhea, create stomach ulcers, nausea and vomiting. Smoking can increase possibility of cancer. Especially pregnant women should be aware of smoking, because smoking can negatively impact development of baby. Smoking can cause premature birth of the baby, and can suffer from diabetes , obesity, and its cognitive functions can be impaired. Smoking should be taboo even for breastfeeding women, because smoking can affect the health of the newborn baby as well. Even passive smoking can can be a problem and a cause of multiple diseases for children, including atherosclerosis.

Nicotine as a substance that improves cognitive functions – Nootropic

As mentioned above, nicotine can positively impact cognitive functions. Many studies examined how nicotine affects memory function. Some studies claim that nicotine improves memory, concentration and alertness. Nicotine act as a stimulant because it modulates neurotransmiters acetylcholine and norepinephrine. Clinical studies have shown that nicotine helps to improve short-term and long-term memory and ability to concentrate. Nicotine patches positively impact people with Alzheimers disease and ADHD. Especially in people with ADHD, nicotine helps regulate self-discipline and helps to increase attention span, and improves mood as well.

Nicotinic receptors in the brain

When supporting cognitive functions, neural nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) play big role. They are located mostly in hippocampus and amygdala, but ion chanels are distributed throughout the brain in different quantities. There is a couple of different nicotinic chanels, and each of them has different pharmacological profile and has different function. Each of them determines what effect nicotine will have on body and mind of a person. They are controlling different behavioral and physiological processes and they have radical impact on development of diseases such as Parkinson and schizophrenia.

Based on studies and informations from the last decades, we can now use nicotine to improve our cognitive functions, lower anxiety and reduce symptoms of various diseases while lowering possibility of side effects. In the past years, scientists have discovered processes that are ongoing in the brain after nicotine usage. There is still place for improvement and scientists are still looking for new ways of nicotine use in the modern medicine.


DISCLAIMER: The information included in this article is intended for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Prior to buying anything, check that it is compliant where you live with your current government laws.

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