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Vaping nicotine may help Alzheimer’s patients with cognition, say scientists

Scientists around the world are working diligently to find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, and many believe that the vaping of nicotine may provide some much-anticipated benefits. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Association is even allowing Big Pharma companies to experiment with new medications involving often-controversial substances like nicotine and medical marijuana.

Alzheimer’s Disease negatively affects the patient’s short-term memory and cognitive capabilities. And in 2012, a team of scientists from the Center for Cognitive Medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville may have discovered a previously-unknown link between enhanced brain functions and nicotine ingestion involving patients suffering from a condition known as Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

Overview of the Vanderbilt nicotine study

The Vanderbilt study entitled Nicotine treatment of mild cognitive impairment: a 6-month double-blind pilot clinical trial is published for review in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (NCBI). Led by Dr. Paul Newhouse, the study primarily focuses on nicotine ingestion via conventional NRTs like patches, gums and lozenges. However, with the rise in popularity of vaping, many experts now believe that e-cigs can release the desired levels of nicotine into the bloodstream at a significantly faster rate.

  • Over a period of six months, the Newhouse team evaluated the use of nicotine patches on a specially selected group of approximately 70 elderly nonsmokers.
  • Testing scores indicate an average cognitive increase of 46 percent compared to their normal, age-adjusted capacities for long-term memory.
  • Meanwhile, patients not receiving the NRT experienced measurable declines in cognitive reasoning of approximately 26 percent on average.
  • These results support findings from a previous 1990 study where the nicotine was introduced to the patient’s bloodstream via intravenous methods.
  • The intravenous nicotine study is also readily available for review via the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (NCBI) website.

Dr. Newhouse admitted agrees that the 70-member control group of the latest Vanderbilt research is too small to provide conclusive evidence that nicotine enhances cognitive abilities. However, the scientists also suspect that they are on the right track. As a result, they have just announced the beginning stages of a new, more extensive study involving a more robust sample group of approximately 300 non-smoking participants above the age of 55.

“People think of [Nicotine] as a potentially noxious substance, but it’s a plant-derived medication just like a lot of other medications.”

“I am convinced that we will find a way to help improve early memory loss and make a real difference in people’s lives. In this study, we have an inexpensive, widely available potential treatment.”

-Dr. Paul Newhouse, Director, Center for Cognitive Medicine at VUM