December 14, 2005

Nicotine for Alzheimers, & Schizophrenia?

A news story reported recently that researchers are trying nicotine patches to help minimize memory loss in Alzheimers, and researchers are also working on testing nicotine for treating brain disorders like schizophrenia (of course, since cigarette smoking causes Cancer, cigarettes definitely are not recommended as a means to get nicotine).

Ivanhoe's reported that:

"Paul Newhouse, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry at University of Vermont in Burlington, says, "Nicotine can improve learning. It can improve attentional performance."

For the study, patients with mild memory loss will wear a nicotine patch or placebo patch for a year. The hope is that nicotine can replace the chemicals lost as memory fades. Dr. Newhouse says researchers think it would provide a way to treat the earliest signs of memory loss and attentional loss. The patch does not cause addiction. In fact, nicotine is also being studied to treat schizophrenia, ADHD and Parkinson's.

Dr. Newhouse is excited about nicotine's potential for Alzheimer's. "This is the kind of work that makes my career and life and work seem meaningful," he says. ...

Dr. Newhouse says nicotine does not pose any safety concerns and is only addictive when it's combined with tobacco. Nicotine patches may not be a practical treatment for long-term use, so drugs are being developed that mimic what it does in the brain." (Editor's note: I believe that the reason nicotine patches may not be addictive probably has more to do with the amount of nicotine and means of delivery (cigarettes are engineered to make you addicted as quickly as possible - whereas patches and other medicinal products are not).

Nicotine has also been reported to lower the risk of people in getting schizophrenia (see Nicotine when used by Young Adults May Lower Risk of Later Schizophrenia ).

Reading List related to Schizophrenia, Nicotine and Smoking


I knew smoking was good for me somehow. Is there any evidence that people with schizophrenia are more easily addicted to cigarettes than others

Posted by: bertrand at December 19, 2005 02:48 PM


Nicotine provides some benefit, but smoking will kill you.

There is a lot of evidence to show that people with schizophrenia are more easily addicted to cigarettes, and also that they derive more benefit from nicotine. See the link above that is labled "Reading List related to Schizophrenia, Nicotine and Smoking" - of course this doesn't mean that Smoking is good for you - its just that nicotine has some benefits. Smoking will kill you though. You should switch to a less harmful means of getting nicotine if you can't stop entirely.

Posted by: Sz Administrator at December 19, 2005 03:30 PM

From my frequent visits to a mental health care hostel and hospitals it is clear that many schizophrenia sufferers smoke heavily. This does not seem to be helping them toward recovery. What is the current evidence on the effect of nicotine on those who have already developed the condition?

Posted by: John Sutton at March 5, 2006 03:46 AM

is the nicotine patch just as effective for women in their 30's for memory loss who don't smoke

Posted by: terri at June 10, 2006 09:32 AM

I am not a smoker, not any longer since I have been in this drug rehab program, I have never been one, but I think that everything that is in excess damages something. Having that in mind we also have to think that small amounts can be good for something. Regarding the addiction when combining with tobacco, I have heard different stories, like nicotine gum, for example, that gave addiction.

Posted by: Lucy at September 4, 2007 09:11 AM

It never ceases to amaze me what science discovers. who new something synonymous with things so negative can yield a positive result

Posted by: Guy at September 20, 2007 08:50 AM

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