While tobacco and tobacco use are always in the news as to the health-related risks smokers are subjected to, tobacco rarely makes the news as having any health benefits whatsoever. In a new study conducted at Texas A&M University, research indicates that one compound in tobacco, nicotine, can actually be beneficial to aging brains.
It’s actually quite uncommon to hear of health benefits of anything even remotely related to tobacco, so this study comes as somewhat of a surprise to many within the medical community as well as to consumers around the country. The findings are that when used in a proper way, nicotine can actually promote healthy brain function.
Texas A&M Professor in Collaboration with Colleagues
As an associate professor at the College of Medicine at Texas A&M University, Dr. Ursula Winzer-Serhan, Ph.D. worked with some of her colleagues on a study into the effect of nicotine on animals. It may be shocking to some, but the conclusions they drew are actually quite shocking based on what has previously been published on the subject. The study indicated that nicotine, a heavy consumption of it, causes changes within a brain that can be clearly positive!
While this does not mean they advocate smoking, perhaps the use of electronic vape pens could introduce enough nicotine into the system to be beneficial? Without debating the issue here, it is widely known that it is the burning of tobacco that is carcinogenic, but other forms are not proven to be so. With this said, how much nicotine is enough and what benefits can be had in consuming it in some form?
Their Findings in Terms of Dosages
What is even more surprising is that the higher the dose, the more beneficial nicotine seems to be! What her team found is that in doses considered to be low or medium, there was little effect on the animals in the study. At these dosages, there was minimal traces in their bloodstreams which indicated that little benefit could be had.
At elevated doses, nicotine helped decrease the appetite of those test animals which in turn aided in keeping weight gain to a minimum. However, the one finding that bears further study is how elevated levels of nicotine in the blood triggers several receptors within the brain that have been clinically linked to anti-aging.
Conditions High Levels of Nicotine May Benefit
So then, their findings clearly indicate that high levels of nicotine may help stave off the onset of dementia, or at the very least, keep the effects of dementia to a minimum. Then there are other conditions that nicotine may be beneficial for which would include Parkinson’s and any of the age-related degenerative diseases. For those susceptible to such things as Alzheimer’s disease or age related dementia, could nicotine be the magic formula to prevent or at least slow the onset?
The exact mechanism through which nicotine works is yet unknown, but their findings suggest that further study is needed. With Boomers reaching their senior years by the millions, dementia and age-related mental impairments is going to be a real challenge to the medical community. Early research indicates that nicotine may have benefits that are healthier than many pharmaceuticals now prescribed for these conditions.
Sources of Nicotine Found to Be Beneficial
While it is obvious that a doctor would not prescribe smoking tobacco cigarettes to delay the onset of age-related conditions, there are other ways to consume this chemical. Natural tobacco leaves are a source, a high source at that, of nicotine but how would they best be consumed if not smoked? The answer to that actually involves how the leaf is used.
Commercial cigarettes have tobacco that has been sprayed with numerous other compounds and so those are obviously going to be questionable. However, freshly grown tobacco might be used to make tinctures or teas which could be ingested. Obviously, this would need to be tobacco that is not grown on farms for the production of cigarettes because of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but home grown would probably be a good source.
Much more information is needed to reach a definitive conclusion on how best to introduce nicotine for its many benefits, but at the moment, vaping and patches are probably the best solution. It will be years before the medical community is able to set aside their obvious distaste of tobacco use, but in the interim, researchers like Dr. Winzer-Serhan will forge ahead to provide better studies and clinical evidence that just may trigger a new surge of interest in tobacco.