Apparently the role of nicotine in halting the aging of the human brain is very crucial.
While all cigarettes, cigars and pipes are harmful for health, nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, is not all that bad especially for the brain.
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It actually reverses Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s, provided it is administered separately from the tobacco product. While even e-cigarettes are not benign, nicotine as a chemical compound, on its own, tends to have a salubrious effect on the human mind.
Nicotine appears to be neuroprotective in its effects. Also it tends to fight off hunger in human beings. The two tendencies may be linked since a low calorie diet is connected to optimal mental functioning and longevity.
The study was published in the Open Access Journal of Toxicology.
Three groups of animals received nicotine at various levels and dosages. The nicotine was added to their water dispensers. The levels were: low, medium and high.
These corresponded with occasional, average and heavy smokers respectively. A control group was also kept which did not receive any nicotine whatsoever.
The two groups that received nicotine in low and medium doses had no traces of the drug in their bloodstream. They also showed no changes in their dietary patterns.
Their body weight and nicotine receptors in the brain remained unaffected. Yet the group getting the highest dosage had a reduced diet, gained little to no weight and ended up having more receptors in the brain for nicotine.
Thus at higher doses, the drug enters the brain and acts on the behavioral responses of the animals. Yet the good thing was that even at the highest possible doses, nicotine did not cause any anxiety. The scientists who carried out this experiment were concerned lest such a scenario presented itself during the course of the study.
There are those who say nicotine decreases anxiety and there are those who say it increases it. Any negative behavioral response would have had the scientists worried yet no such effect seemed to be forthcoming.
In fact, the nicotine probably relieved the anxiety of the animals to a certain extent. The anti-aging effects of nicotine were tested too. Besides suppressing appetite, it also led to a decrease in body weight.
There is a lot more that needs to be corroborated to get at the nitty gritty stuff in this study. In no way do the researchers want to suggest that people become chain smokers in their quest for longevity and optimal cognitive functioning.
That would be counter-productive. Other methods of administering the drug besides smoking will have to be found to affect brain health in human beings.