If i told you that Nicotine can make you smarter, I expect you’d call me crazy (assuming you don’t already know about the drug’s cognitive effects).
But it’s true! Nicotine has been scientifically proven to improve attention and memory as well as having a host of other benefits.
In this post, we’ll be discussing the benefits, drawbacks and recommended dosage when using nicotine to help you work.
Before we start, I want to make clear that we are talking about nicotine by itself, and not smoking cigarettes (which we do NOT recommend).
Since Nicotine has been in widespread use for many years, the drug has been studied much more extensively than any other nootropic. This means that we can be a lot more certain of it’s effects and side effects.
The key cognitive enhancements with nicotine are the heightened focus or attention to a task as well as improvements in both long term and short term memory(1). The heightened focus is often the most noticeable effect and is likely to be the cause for the memory improvements.
Similar to other stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine can help you stay on track with boring tasks that you might find yourself getting easily distracted on. And when it comes those bigger and harder tasks where you don’t even know where to start, a bit of nicotine can often times help you to find a starting point and just slog through. The key advantage with nicotine is the immediate hit of a strong dose of focus, whereas caffeine takes a while to be absorbed and reach the bloodstream. Nicotine also has a much shorter half life, meaning you can control how long you get the effects for much easier.
Some users also find themselves to have better coordination and reaction time, however this is most likely also because of the increased focus.
Finally, if you’re trying to lose weight, nicotine has the added benefit of appetite suppression and has been shown to cause weight loss in mice(2). It should be noted, however, that the mice did regain the weight when they stopped getting nicotine.
In the title of the blog, we questioned whether nicotine is a nootropic. When looking at it’s side effect profile, it is clear that nicotine differs from the typical nootropic. For this reason, I hesitate to define it as a nootropic, but rather a cognitive enhancer.
The most obvious undesirable effect of nicotine is its highly addictive nature. If you intend to use nicotine purely as a cognitive enhancer, its important to be aware of the risk of addiction because not only does this mean that there’s a good chance you’ll be burning money by using it more often then you need to, you’ll also likely experience withdrawal symptoms when you’re not taking it.
Depending on the level of addiction, withdrawal symptoms can hit just 30 minutes after your last dose. As well as irritability, sweating and intense cravings for nicotine, experiencing withdrawal symptoms lead to reduced focus and concentration which is completely counter-intuitive to taking taking nicotine for focus.
Other negative effects include slightly elevating your blood pressure and heart rate(3), which is something you might want to consider if you have any heart conditions. Additionally, there is evidence that suggests that nicotine should be avoided in cancer survivors and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy/radiotherapy as it may increase the survival of cancer cells(4).
How To Take Nicotine And Avoid Addiction
Gum, inhalers, lozenges and e-cigarettes are all acceptable ways to get some nicotine without smoking cigarettes. I’d recommend avoiding patches as you can’t control the release of nicotine as well, compared to the other forms.
If you don’t smoke cigarettes currently and are thinking of taking nicotine as a nootropic, then a maximum daily dose of 2mg should be more than sufficient to get the desired effects.
Since nicotine has a half life of 1-2 hours, the effects can wear out pretty quickly. This means that you might have to top up your nicotine dose every few hours which is completely fine as long as you stay under 2mg for the day.
Important information to know
If you have decided to take nicotine to help you work then it is important you know how to take nicotine properly in order to maximise it’s positive effects and to help keep addiction at bay.
When you’re taking nicotine, it is crucial that you only take it before you start doing work. Once you’ve got some nicotine flowing through you and you’re hammering through your work, it’s important that you don’t do other tasks such as scrolling through social media. This is so your brain can associate nicotine with work, and work only.
Needless to say, it’s important that you don’t take it when you’re not actually doing work. This is how addiction occurs and next thing you know, you have an expensive habit you didn’t want. Not only that but the withdrawal symptoms kills your focus.
Finally, you should know that even if you are careful and follow all the advice given, you may still feel some sort of dependence upon nicotine so use this information wisely.
The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have especially if you currently have a medical condition.
(1) Rezvani AH, Levin ED. Cognitive effects of nicotine. Biological psychiatry. 2001 Feb 1;49(3):258-67. – focus and memory
(2) Schechter MD, Cook PG. Nicotine-induced weight loss in rats without an effect on appetite. European Journal of Pharmacology. 1976 Jul 1;38(1):63-9. – rats
(3) Bhatnagar A, Whitsel LP, Ribisl KM, Bullen C, Chaloupka F, Piano MR, Robertson RM, McAuley T, Goff D, Benowitz N. Electronic cigarettes: a policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2014 Oct 14;130(16):1418-36.
(4) Grando SA. Connections of nicotine to cancer. Nature Reviews Cancer. 2014 Jun;14(6):419.
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