Why Smokers Never Forget To Light Up!

Posted by: michael  :  Category: Factors affecting Brain Health

Research continues on the brain’s ability to repair itself.  In part, the research involves studying the working or mechanism of the nerve cells (neurons) found within the brain. This has led to a discovery that the nerve cells have the capability to produce an anti-inflammatory molecule that aids the brain in repairing itself.  

This finding is promising newssince inflammation is nature’s way of saying “please sort out this mess”

Two important questions are:
1) How can the production of anti-inflammatory molecules be stimulated in the brain?
2) How might they affect the performance of the brain?

The not-so- promising news… (but then I’m biased because I’m not a supporter of drug-based therapies).
Some years ago scientists discovered previously unrecognised protective effects of nicotine. They found that a metabolite ( an end-product that remains after metabolism – digestion) called cotinine, (a by-product of nicotine after it has been processed by the human body) may have the capacity to aid the protection of brain cells and reduce the severity of brain-related diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s by helping to improve memory and certain executive functions.

NO, don’t pick up that cigarette! Smoking can devastate your health!

It appears that cotinine has an ability to bind to and hence cause activation of nicotinic cholinergic receptors of the brain.

What on earth does that mean??
Well…
Cell Receptors receive and bind certain substances and then trigger changes within a cell.
Nicotinic Cholinergic relates to nerve cells that use acetylcholine as their neurotransmitter and are also activated by nicotine or a by-product such as cotinine.
A Neurotransmitter is a chemical released by a nerve cell that facilitates the transmission of messages from one nerve cell to another.

In other words, cotinine can foster the transmission of messages between brain cells. That’s a real positive for brain health as it may result in an improvement in cognitive (brain) function in areas such as memory, planning and attention level.

 So, while smoking continues to be bad for you, medication which has pure nicotine-related compounds may have some promise in the treatment of human brain disorders.

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