Doctor Recommends Occasional Nicotine Use for Potential Cognitive Benefits
Nicotine is highly stigmatized in our society and because it is a main ingredient in cigarettes, it is almost always classified as dangerous. But Dr. David Dominic wasn’t convinced that nicotine is all bad. With a background in neuroscience, Dr. Dominic knows that the brain interacts with nicotine in a positive way and he believes that nicotine might have some redeeming qualities after all.
While smoking or tobacco use in any shape or form is dangerous, consuming isolated nicotine might just offer some major benefits to your brain. “Nicotine has a significantly different effect on the human body when isolated from cigarette smoking,” Dominic wrote. So what happens to your cognitive function when you consume nicotine apart from tobacco?
Most people report better focus, improved abilities to pay attention, less distraction. It also seems to impact the brain’s processing abilities, essentially making it easier to take in new information. Studies have also linked nicotine with improvements in fine motor skills, short-term memory, and reaction times.
Critics claim that nicotine cannot be beneficial because it’s dangerous for your heart. But Dr. Dominic said it really just depends on your personal health history. “The potential risk associated with acute use of nicotine is predominantly mediated by vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels) and hypertension (high blood pressure) in susceptible individuals (those with pre-existing heart/vascular disease).”
Dominic pointed out that nicotine doesn’t cause cancer or increase cancer risks. Many studies have shown that nicotine could be effective in treating age-related cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, and even schizophrenia.
Even with the knowledge that nicotine is in fact beneficial, many still shun it because it is stigmatized as addictive. Dominic pointed out that the level of addictiveness is largely dependent on how nicotine is used. “Independent nicotine consumption has been shown to be far less addictive than smoking cigarettes, as other constituents in smoking have been found to be major contributors to this problem. This has been investigated in both human and animal populations. How many people do you know that have become addicted to nicotine gun or patches? My bet is that it is few and far between.”
If you want to try the benefits of nicotine without smoking, Dominic has a few suggestions. Your first option would be an e-cigarette. While ecigs are a tobacco-free alternative to smoking, they do still contain nicotine. However, they could pose an addiction problem because the nicotine crosses into the brain within 5-10 seconds of inhalation. Your other options would be nicotine patches or gums, which would probably be less addictive than ecigs.
Overall, Dr. Dominic doesn’t recommend routine nicotine use, but he believes that using it occasionally would be permissible as long as you are not pregnant. In fact, he has started using nicotine gums occasionally to peak his focus and increase his productivity. “I have found a noticeable difference in my level of motivation, attention, processing speed, and productivity using nicotine, which has been of use for mentally demanding activities,” he said.
Can you tell a difference in your level of focus and alertness after using nicotine? Are you concerned about nicotine addiction when you use an ecig?