Nicotine’s Surprising Nootropic Benefits

Studies have repeatedly shown that smoking is not only bad for the body, but also for the mind. But what of nicotine itself? There’s more and more evidence emerging that nicotine can actually have some potent cognitive enhancing properties.


Nicotine’s Nootropic Benefits

Studies released in the last few years show that Nicotine does indeed have nootropic properties. It’s most pronouced effect appears to be an improvement in learning and memory. 2 One study in particular tested it’s effects on the memory of rats in a variety of different tests. The study found that rats dosed with nicotine performed significantly better at nearly every memory test performed. 3

The study concluded that there is strong evidence that nicotine is a cognitive enhancer in humans as well as animals. In vitro results suggested that nicotine also has antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. (Don’t use this as an excuse to start smoking, the other chemicals in tobacco smoke are more than harmful enough to make up for any benefit the nicotine itself may provide.)

But Nicotine is Highly Addictive!

It’s actually a common misconception that nicotine alone is addictive. Studies have shown that nicotine is actually only addictive when combined with a Monamine Oxidase Inhibior (MAOI). 1. Cigarettes are highly addictive not just because they contain nicotine, but also because tobacco smoke has MAO-inhibitory properties.

This means that if you used a delivery system for nicotine that lacks MAO-inhibition such as gum or patches you can enjoy the nootropic benefits of nicotine without having to worry about becoming addictive. Of course you should ensure that you aren’t taking any MAO-inhibiting medication before doing this.

Giving it a Try

If you want to try and experience the nootropic benefits of nicotine for yourself, don’t take up smoking. Nicotine gum, patches, and electronic cigarettes are all good substitutes. (Though you may want to avoid electronic cigarettes until more research has been performed on their long term health effects — some of them use potentially carcinogenic chemicals as well.)

Resources:

1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16177026
2) http://digitalcommons.conncoll.edu/psychhp/5/
3) http://www.unisa.it/uploads/5711/87.ramarao.pdf

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