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Vaping science: Study shows nicotine may slow the aging process of the brain

Vaping enthusiasts have always known that tobacco and nicotine are two different things entirely.  The smoke from tobacco cigarettes is filled with thousands of toxins and carcinogens while the vapor from e-cigs is 100% tobacco-free and approximately 95% less harmful.  In fact, the only thing that combustible cigarettes and e-cigarettes really have in common is that they both contain nicotine.

But lots of food substances contain nicotine. Tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes are just three examples.  If nicotine is as deadly as the FDA and the CDC often imply, then shouldn’t public health officials be banning restaurants from serving tasty dishes like spaghetti with tomato sauce and eggplant parmesan? 


The simple truth is that the scientific community is still discovering new data about the often-controversial substance called nicotine. MTV’s Dr. Drew Pinsky even once famously said,

There’s nothing wrong with the nicotine, which is what you’re addicted to.  It’s the tobacco that causes all the F-ing damage.”  

Apparently, a team of scientists from Texas A&M tends to agree.  According to recent research, nicotine ingested alone and without tobacco might be a kind of fountain of youth for the mind -  helping to slow the aging process of the brain or perhaps even reverse it. 

Overview of the Texas A&M nicotine study

A team of scientists led by Dr. Ursula Winzer-Serhan from the Texas A&M College of Medicine conducted a study focusing on nicotine’s potential capabilities as a neuroprotective agent.  According to the report published on the Open Access Journal of Toxicology, the medical community is already well aware that nicotine acts as a natural appetite suppressant.  If nicotine can “trick” the brain in this regard, then perhaps it can provide other mental health benefits, as well.

      • The team of scientists began their research by placing drops of nicotine extract into the drink water of their animal subjects.
      • The test subjects were divided into three different groups – those receiving low, medium, and high dosages.
      • The three different nicotine levels were meant to mimic the three different categories of smokers (or vapers).
      • A control group was given drinking water that was 100% nicotine-free.
      • The low and medium groups experienced no significant changes in appetite reduction, weight loss, or activity in neurotransmitters.
      • However, those that received the higher dosages of nicotine ate less, gained less weight, and witnessed increased brain activity.

The scientists also monitored for possible negative side effects, such as increased agitation or symptoms of anxiety.  However, none seemed to be apparent. 

“Some people say that nicotine decreases anxiety, which is why people smoke, but others say it increases anxiety.  The last thing you would want in a drug that is given chronically would be a negative change in behavior. Luckily, we didn’t find any evidence of anxiety: Only two measures showed any effect even with high levels of nicotine, and if anything, nicotine made animal models less anxious.”
- Ursula Winzer-Serhan

The Texas A&M research team has attracted a great deal of criticism since the released of the report.  Some health professional warn that the scientists may be unintentionally encouraging smoking.  But Winzer-Serhan insists this is not the case. 

“Even if these weren’t very preliminary results, smoking results in so many health problems that any possible benefit of the nicotine would be more than cancelled out. However, smoking is only one possible route of administration of the drug, and our work shows that we shouldn’t write-off nicotine completely.”

The research team also acknowledges that more research is needed and plans to continue to “test nicotine’s potential anti-ageing effects using aged animal models.”  But the possibilities could be rather remarkable.  Perhaps one day, scientists will eventually prove that ingesting nicotine might stall or even reverse the aging process of the brain. 


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