Uses of Nicotine

nicotineEverything in this world has its advantages and disadvantages. Sometime disadvantages of something is more than advantages and so we must have to get rid of them. Same is applied for Nicotine. Nicotine is one of the most addictive drugs in the world. It is an alkaloid obtained from the plant Nicotiana tabacum.

Here therapeutic benefits of Nicotine from published researches are mentioned as they may help at any point of life. Remember cigarette smoking is harmful as it has almost 4000 other compounds adding to its adverse effects.

Nicotine has many physiological and cognitive effects, which are attributed to the receptor subunits to which nicotine gets bind in the body. Nicotine binds to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) which are composed of five polypeptide subunits.

One of the most important use of Nicotine is in the smoking cessation and many different dosage forms are available in this respect such as nicotine patches, gums, sprays and lozenges. Electronic cigarettes are another important forms of nicotine usage but smoking cessation program.

Native Americans use nicotine to treat intestinal symptoms.

Nicotine is used as an insecticide for its toxic/ lethal effects in high doses.

Researchers from National Institute on Drug Abuse found that nicotine activates specific brain areas that needs to be activated in the tasks of attention and therefore research is on for its use in schizophrenia.

Nicotine has been found to reduce the neurodegenerative disorders and to improve the motor and cognitive functioning of patients of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Researchers are working on nicotine drugs as potential therapeutic agents for cognitive disorders.

Nicotine has been found to alleviate pain. It has been found that nAChRs have an important role in the pain. An example is that of Epibatidine, which is an alkaloid obtained from the skin of Ecuadorian frog. This drug acts on nAChRs and has been found to be 200 times more potent than morphine. This thing is generating a concept of its use as anesthetics. More interestingly it is found that nicotine and nicotine like drugs have opposite side effects as that of anesthetics.

Similarly, research is on in the use of nicotine in skin infections and inflammations as skin has an abundance of nAChRs.

Nicotine is also in research to control weight gain.

Ulcerative collitis have also been shown to be reduced as a result of nicotine. Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory disorder of intestine i.e. bowel.

Despite of all these benefits nicotine is an agent of drug abuse (and intoxication) and any drug of abuse is more harmful than beneficial, so we must have to get rid of such agents or drugs.

References and further reading:

Balfour, D. J. K. (1999). Pharmacology of nicotine and its therapeutic use in smoking cessation and neurodegenerative disorders. Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 72(1), 51-81.

Ingram, J. R. (2009). Nicotine: does it have a role in the treatment of skin disease? Postgraduate medical Journal, 85, 196-201.

Powledge, T. M. (2004). Nicotine as Therapy, PLOS Biology, 2(11), e404.

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