Will A Nicotine Patch Make You Smarter
On a quest to make his brain work better, a writer delves into the evidence for why the worlds most notorious alkaloid may be the best bet for a true cognitive enhancer
Back home in New Jersey, I read through dozens of human and animal studies published over the past five years showing that nicotinefreed of its noxious host, tobacco, and delivered instead by chewing gum or transdermal patchmay prove to be a weirdly, improbably effective cognitive enhancer and treatment for relieving or preventing a variety of neurological disorders, including Parkinsons, mild cognitive impairment, ADHD, Tourettes, and schizophrenia. Plus it has long been associated with weight loss. With few known safety risks.
Nicotine? Yes, nicotine.
I understand that smoking is bad, said Maryka Quik, director of the Neurodegenerative Diseases Program at SRI International, a nonprofit research institute based in Californias Silicon Valley. My father died of lung cancer. I totally get it.
Yet for years Quik has endured the skepticism and downright hostility of many of her fellow neuroscientists as she has published some three dozen studies revealing the actions of nicotine within the mammalian brain.
A huge literature says that smoking protects against Parkinsons,she said. It started as a chance observation, which is frequently the most interesting kind.
I added a nicotine patch to my list
What Is Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease is a progressive condition that increasingly disrupts function in the brain.
Parkinsons disease causes degeneration in the central nervous system, disrupting movement, thought processes, and coordination.
The loss of brain cells that produce dopamine, an important neurotransmitter, causes the effects of this disease.
Symptoms develop gradually and may begin with small tremors in one hand. Parkinsons symptoms might include:
- facial, hand, arm, and leg tremors
- balance difficulties
Mechanism Of Nicotine And Pd
Findings on the inverse association between cigarette smoking and PD, together with observations that smokeless tobacco users had a lower risk of PD , support the notion that certain tobacco components, possibly nicotine, could be a promising substance for preventing against PD risk or slowing PD progression .
Regarding mechanism of neuroprotection against PD, another hypothesis states that the elevation of brain Cytochrome P450 enzymes induced by nicotine may play a role . According to this hypothesis, higher levels of CYP enzymes in the brain, whether due to genotype or CYP induction by nicotine, can increase inactivation of neurotoxins, thus delaying development and progression of PD. In addition, a novel hypothesis recently proposed that cigarettes may change the composition of the microbiota in the gut in a manner of mitigating intestinal inflammation . Upregulation of anti-inflammation by nicotine would in turn lead to less misfolding of the protein alpha-synuclein, a substance inducing neurodegeneration in enteric nerves, thus minimizing propagation of the protein aggregates to the central nervous system .
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Smoking Cessation And Parkinson’s Disease
Daniel D. Truong, MD
A number of studies have shown that the percentage of people who smoke is lower among individuals with Parkinsons disease than those without. Furthermore, individuals who have ever been smokers have half the risk of developing PD compared to those who have never smoked. When results like these were initially published, they were interpreted as showing that smoking somehow protected people from developing PD.
Recently, scientists have come to a different conclusion from these results. The new theory is that fewer people who go on to develop PD become or remain smokers because, for them, nicotine has less of a rewarding effect. Nicotine has a number of effects on the brain. Like all drugs that produce rewarding effects, nicotine increases levels of dopamine in certain areas of the brain. Behaviorally, it produces stimulating effects. Individuals with PD have a lower number of nicotine receptors in the brain, up to 50 percent lower in some areas, than those without PD. Because of this, there are fewer sites for it to bind to in the brain, so nicotines effects will be lesser. This may make it easier for people with PD to quit smoking.
If the reduced effect of nicotine on the brain is an early effect of PDone that is evident long before the motor effects are diagnosed, like changes in smell, constipation, and REM sleep disordersreduced nicotine reward and/or an easier time quitting smoking might be an early marker for PD.
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- Racial Disparities: The menthol ban could significantly affect Black smokers, nearly 85 percent of whom use the mint-flavored products.
Dr. Zach W. Hall, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said the Federal Government spent several million dollars a year on research related to nicotine. This work is mainly focused on looking at how the chemical acts on the brain and why there are receptors in the central nervous system that bind so strongly to nicotine, he said.
”We have supported a program of basic research, which has been very fruitful,” Dr. Hall said. ”But we are not currently funding research on using nicotine as a treatment.”
Part of the renewed interest in testing nicotine as potential therapy for a number of conditions is that the chemical has recently become available in numerous nontobacco forms that allow it to be readily administered to people in different doses without the risks of smoking. Nicotine is available to help people stop smoking in delivery systems that include patches that allow the chemical to be absorbed through the skin, chewing gum, a nose spray and an oral inhaler.
For more than 20 years, evidence has been accumulating that cigarette smokers have a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. A similar effect has also been noticed in epidemiological studies of Alzheimer’s disease and ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease.
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Does Parkinsons Disease Protect From Smoking
What if cigarette smoking does not actually confer a positive biological effect on the brain to protect from PD, but rather some aspect of PD biology leads to less of a tendency to smoke? Dopamine is the main addiction chemical in the brain, so it stands to reason that in a PD brain, with a reduced amount of dopamine, there will be less of a tendency for addiction. Other hypotheses suggest that people with PD may have alterations in how their brains utilize nicotine, or how the nicotine interacts with the dopaminergic neurons, leading to less of a tendency to become addicted to it.
This possibility was explored in a paper that demonstrated that people with PD who did smoke found it easier to quit smoking as compared to controls, and people with PD utilized reduced amounts of nicotine substitutes in order to quit as compared to controls. This suggested that people with PD have a less intense addiction than controls, leading to the overall decreased smoking rates.
Smoking And Parkinsons Disease
Epidemiologic studies of Parkinsons disease that explore the distribution of the disease in various populations, have consistently found, over a number of decades, that cigarette smokers have lower rates of PD than non-smokers. People are taken aback when they first hear this as it is counter-intuitive. Could it be that a habit so clearly linked to poor health can also provide a health benefit?
There are two potential ways to view this association. The first is that smoking has a biological effect that protects a person from PD. The second is that part of the biology of PD makes it less likely that a person would smoke.
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Nicotine Is Typically Thought Of As Bad For You An Addictive Substance That Can Get You Hooked On Cigarettes But New Research Has Found That Nicotine Can Help Protect Brain Cells From Damage Could The Benefits Of Nicotine Be Harnessed In A New Drug To Help Parkinsons
You may have read headlines that left you puzzled with regard to smoking and Parkinsons research suggests that smoking reduces a persons risk of developing the condition.
Weve known about this protective link for a while. Most recently, at the end of 2018, Imperial College London published a study that recorded the smoking status of 220,494 people aged 3770, and then assessed whether they went onto develop Parkinsons. The researchers found that:
- former smokers were 20% less likely to develop Parkinsons, and this increased to 50% in current smokers
- smoking more often was also linked to a decreased risk of Parkinsons
- passive smoking also reduced risk.
When the protective effects of smoking were discovered, it was met with confusion. We all know that smoking has huge health consequences and cant be recommended. Smoking is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK. We now know smoking increases the risk of over 50 serious health conditions, from cancer and heart disease to stroke and dementia.
So how can we explain the news that smoking actually may reduce the risk of developing Parkinsons? Researchers think the surprising results could be explained by the nicotine found in tobacco.
Smoking And Prodromal Pd
REM sleep behavior disorder is a parasomnia characterized by symptoms of dream-enacting behaviors and a loss of muscle atonia throughout a REM period as confirmed by polysomnography . A large proportion of individuals with RBD developed neurodegenerative synucleinopathy based on prospective cohort studies . However, in a hospital-based case-control study, RBD cases were more likely to smoke , although nonsmoking status has been consistently linked with risk of PD. In addition, two recent community-based cross-sectional studies showed that smoking was not a significant risk factor for probable RBD. For example, in our previous study based on 12,784 Chinese participants of the Kailuan study, the adjusted ORs for probable RBD was 0.91 for current smoking and 1.17 for past smoking, compared with non-smokers . In this context, it is possible that some RBD have different pathogenesis.
Both population-based studies and those performed in at-risk populations showed that impaired olfactory function was associated with higher PD risk, and could predate development of PD . With regard to the association between smoking and olfactory function, previous studies generated mixed results: some , but not all , reported that smokers were more likely to have olfactory dysfunction. It remains unclear whether this is due to a true biological effect of smoking on olfaction or a reverse causality individuals with olfactory dysfunction may quit smoking.
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Learning From Nicotine New Treatments
The evidence that nicotine could help people with Parkinsons has led to the search for new nicotine-like compounds that can help but arent addictive.
Two researchers funded by Parkinsons UK are teaming up to help find a new treatment Dr Mohammed Shoaib an expert in nicotine and Dr Mahmoud Iravani an expert in Parkinsons.
Dr Mohammed Shoaib has already designed new nicotine-like compounds that based on the way nicotine travels to the brain and increases neurotransmitters in the specific areas of the brain affected in Parkinsons. He has worked with Dr Mahmoud Iravani to design these compounds specifically for people with Parkinsons.
Now they want to know if the drugs improve memory and movement symptoms something that no current treatment can do. They are testing this in rodent models of Parkinsons. If successful, it will be an important step towards a new treatment that could be trialled in people with Parkinsons.
Parkinsons is a progressive neurological condition that affects about 145,000 people in the UK and an estimated 714 million people worldwide. There is currently no cure, and we desperately need better treatments.
You can help us speed up the development of new and better treatments, and a cure for Parkinsons by donating to this project today. 100% of your gift will go to supporting this research project.
Waiting For Human Evidence
Given the findings, one might reasonably ask how many clinical trials of ordinary over-the-counter nicotine patches or gum as a preventative for the progression of Parkinsons have been published in the medical literature. In humans, none, says neurologist James Boyd of the University of Vermont College of Medicine. That will change soon. Boyd is now running two such studies. The first, begun in 2010, is a small, randomized 12-week trial of whether a nicotine patch can reduce another problem often associated with Parkinsons: impulsivity.
Remember, Parkinsons involves a loss of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates not only movement but also addictive behaviors. It has long been observed that people who develop Parkinsons tend to be more low-key and risk-averse than average, as if their innate dopamine levels have always been on the low side. When they take L-dopa, however, some have been known to swing to the other side of the reward-seeking spectrum, developing gambling or sexual addictions. Boyd hopes nicotine might push such patients back to a middle ground.
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How Can Nicotine Help
Nicotine has been shown to mimic the role of acetylcholine. It bridges the gap so that information from nerve cells can travel.
However, nicotine has many major health risks. So, we want to develop a safe alternative.
Using previous research, Dr Shoaib and Dr Iravani have worked together to design new compounds which mimic the role of nicotine. This will be targeted specifically at people with Parkinson’s. They now need your support to test out which compounds will have a powerful impact on restoring memory loss and muscle function safely.
Does Smoking Protect From Parkinsons Disease
In addition to the numerous studies that demonstrate that PD rates are lower in cigarette smokers than the general population, there are studies that show that the inverse relationship between smoking and PD is dose-dependent. That is, the more a person smokes, the less of a chance that he or she will develop PD. Another study investigated identical twin pairs in which one had PD and the other did not. The twin without PD tended to smoke more than the twin with PD. Since identical twins share the same DNA and often the same environment, many of the variables normally associated with a difference in risk of PD were removed except for smoking. The study is therefore cited as evidence that smoking is protective against PD.
Even if this theory is correct, and smoking does protect people from Parkinsons disease, all physicians and researchers agree, that this does not mean that increasing the rates of smoking among the general population is a desirable strategy to prevent PD. That is because epidemiologic studies have also consistently found that cigarette smoking is a risk factor for a variety of deadly diseases including lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease and stroke. Researchers have therefore tried to harness the possibly protective nature of cigarette smoke in other ways.
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Nicotine Bitartrate Reduces Falls And Freezing Of Gait In Parkinson Disease: A Reanalysis
- 1Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ, United States
- 2Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, United States
- 3California Pacific Neuroscience Institute, California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, CA, United States
- 4Neuraltus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., San Bruno, CA, United States
Objective: Determine if NC001, an oral formulation of nicotine that reduces levodopa-induced dyskinesias in MPTP-Parkinson monkeys, could reduce falls, freezing of gait , and LIDs in Parkinson disease patients.
Methods: Previously collected data from a study analyzing the effects of NC001 on LIDs in PD patients were reanalyzed. Because indirect-acting cholinergic drugs are sometimes helpful in reducing falls, we hypothesized that NC001, a direct-acting cholinergic agonist, could reduce falls in PD. The original 12-center, double-blind, randomized trial enrolled 65 PD patients. NC001 or placebo was administered 4 times per day for 10 weeks, beginning at 4 mg/day and escalating to 24 mg/day. Assessments included the Unified Dyskinesia Rating Scale and Parts II-III of the original Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale .
NC001 significantly improved two refractory symptoms of PD, falls and FOG. The reduction in falls and FOG is attributed to selective stimulation of nicotinic receptors.
Nicotine Patch Parkinson’s Disease
The medication should be wIthdrawn gradually. Nicotine Patch Parkinson’s Disease sudden stopping of the drug may cause an increase in the symptoms of Parkinsonism. Other Drugs Amantadine is another drug which is now employed in the treatment of parkinsonism. It brings about beneficial effects by releasing dopamine from the storage site.
The human brain produces cells known as neurons. These neurons are responsible for developing a very important brain chemical known as dopamine. This chemical is very essential for the brain to coordinate any movements of the human body. This is based on the fact that when the substantia nigra in the brain is checked for dopamine generating cells they are less than 60 80% of the amount ideally required. Apart from this there is drop in the production of norepinephrine which is a very important component in the control of certain involuntary body functions like blood pressure etc. This increases the movement disorder as well as problems such as regulation of blood pressure abnormal tiredness etc. Role of Seroquel in Parkinsons Treatments The medications used in treating PD have psychotic side effects on the patient.
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Nicotine Slows Parkinson’s Disease
The findings, by Maryka Quik, PhD, and colleagues at The Parkinson’s Institute in California, indicate nicotine might slow Parkinson’s if given very early in the disease process.
They also help explain why cigarette smokers get Parkinson’s disease less often than nonsmokers.
Parkinson’s disease occurs when brain cells that produce dopamine — an important chemical messenger — die off.
Nicotine may protect these cells from toxic damage.
In their study, Quik and colleagues spiked squirrel monkeys’ drinking water with nicotine so the animals’ blood levels of the drug were similar to that in human smokers.
After six months on nicotine, the researchers gave the monkeys a toxin that kills the dopamine-producing cells and mimics the effects of Parkinson’s.
The toxin did 25% less cell damage to the brains of the nicotine-treated monkeys.
Quik and colleagues note that people don’t get Parkinson’s symptoms until 80% to 90% of their dopamine-producing cells are dead.
“This means that a reduction in damage from 80% to 60% can mean the difference between having disease symptoms and being symptom-free,” Quik says, in a news release.
People worried about Parkinson’s disease should not all start smoking, warns David A. Schwartz, MD, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the agency that funded the Quik study.