Saturday, June 23, 2007

Nicotine the wonder drug?

I have previously posted a satirical piece on the health benefits of smoking. If you are thinking about the costs and benefits of tobacco it is very important to distinguish between non-smoking consumption of tobacco (by eating it, sniffing it or even inserting it up your rectum - yes this was done for centuries) and the smoking of tobacco.

Non-smoked tobacco is far, far safer than the deadly dangers posed by smoking tobacco products as I have emphasized. Indeed there might even be real health benefits from consuming clean nicotine:
‘Smoking may be bad for you, but researchers and biotech companies are quietly developing pharmaceuticals that are decidedly good for brains, bowels, blood vessels and even immune systems - and they're inspired by tobacco's deadly active ingredient: nicotine.

Nicotine acts on the acetylcholine receptors in the brain, stimulating and regulating the release of a slew of brain chemicals, including seratonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Not surprisingly, the first scientific work that identified these chemicals and how they affect the body came out of nicotine research -- much of it performed by tobacco companies.

Now drugs derived from nicotine and the research on nicotine receptors are in clinical trials for everything from helping to heal wounds, to depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, anger management and anxiety.

"Nicotine is highly stigmatized -- and for good reason, because the delivery system is so deadly," says Don deBethizy, CEO of Targacept. "But the drug itself and the research generated by studying its effects on the brain both show great promise for helping us improve our physical and mental health."


Anonymous said...

I don't think drugs should be stigmatised because of moral imputations about their social worth. This doesn't just relate to tobacco, but also with many other drugs that share the recreational and medical nexus.

Good post.

I do believe that it should be noted in the interests of harm minimisation, that smokers SHOULD NOT try eating their cigerettes - the risk of overdose is very high (just from the nicotine - I don't have a clue about the other additives).

Nicotine is a drug that can kill you - not just by smoking, but also overdose. Smoking at least does provide a method of use that mitigates that liklihood.

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