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Medicine Science

Nicotine Improves Brain Function In Schizophrenics 297

Posted by kdawson
from the hallucinations-are-a-drag dept.
An anonymous reader suggests a Cosmos Magazine note that nicotine has been shown to enhance attention and memory in schizophrenics. Research is now aimed at developing new treatments that could relieve symptoms and prevent smoking-related deaths. "A strong link between schizophrenia and smoking — with over three times as many schizophrenics smoking (70 to 90%) as the population at large — prompted scientists to investigate the link. Researchers led by Ruth Barr, a psychiatrist at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, set out to find if the nicotine in cigarettes was helping patients to overcome their difficulties with cognitive function, such as planning and memory in social and work settings."
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Nicotine Improves Brain Function In Schizophrenics

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  • I'll simply start telling folks I'm a schizophrenic to justify my pack a day habit.

    Would you want to see what happens when I try to quit?
    • by QCompson (675963) on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:06AM (#28985071)

      Would you want to see what happens when I try to quit?

      You'd live longer?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zantac69 (1331461)
      Now they need to do a study on those of us who run on caffeine...
      • That would be my second vice. I'll probably quit smoking, but I sincerely doubt I'll ever quit caffeine. Talk about cognitive issues when I can't get my coffee...
        • by Amouth (879122)

          I quit Caffeine.. while smoking.. then realized that i had subconsiously replaced it with more smoking.. so? i quit smoking and picked caffeine back up.. oddly not any more than i had before..

          so while people will say mind over body... Quiting smoking is easier than quitting Caffeine.. (and i do not drink soda's.. hum coffee all the way)

      • by CatsupBoy (825578)

        Now they need to do a study on those of us who run on caffeine...

        Dude, they already did: "Drinking coffee cuts alcohol's harmful effects" [msn.com]

        Now all three of my bad habits have a purpose! W00T!!!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcgrew (92797)

      I saw news of a study a few weeks ago (here maybe?) That showed the same genes that are associated with schitzophrenia are also linked to creativity, and that the difference between a schitzophrenic and a creative person was intelligence.

      I wonder if niccotine would enhance creativity in non-schitzophrenic creative types?

      • by NekSnappa (803141)
        That would account for the percentage of musicians that smoke. But then again a lot them are schitzophrenic as well as being creative.
      • I saw news of a study a few weeks ago (here maybe?) That showed the same genes that are associated with schizophrenia are also linked to creativity, and that the difference between a schizophrenic and a creative person was intelligence.

        I have personal proof of this,
        My doctor prescribed me a medication-Risperdal(Risperidone) to help me sleep and when I took it, I lost all creativity for a few days. I did a little research and found that the main use of this drug was as an anti-psychotic. I'd rather not slee

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Would you want to see what happens when I try to quit?

      I don't think the voices in your head have a /. account, so how could they answer you?

  • Typical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:06AM (#28985069)

    Nicotine itself is unlikely to make an effective treatment, because of its side effects and addictive potential, but drugs known as nicotinic agonists, which target nicotine receptors in the brain, are front runners in the challenge to find an effective replacement.

    Haha. So rather than use a cheap natural solution it's better to get the expensive patented synthetic stuff. Riiiiiight... Now I see.

    • Re:Typical (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BubbaDave (1352535) on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:11AM (#28985111)

      We have genetic engineers- it's about time to crossbreed tobacco with coffee so coffee has caffeine and nicotine.

      Dave

    • by shentino (1139071)

      It's because the cheap natural solution isn't profitable and thus it's big pharma's arch enemy.

    • Cheap? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moraelin (679338) on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:49AM (#28985421) Journal

      1. I don't know where you live, but around here with all the taxes the cigarettes are probably the most expensive imaginable way to get your nicotine fix.

      If you're smoking R1, as an extreme example, you're paying 4.4 euro for 1.7mg nicotine total. Or about 2.6 euro per milligram. For other brands of cigarettes, ok, you can get up to 10 times cheaper per mg, but it's still bloody expensive.

      I'd think that the expensive patented stuff could gouge you like the medieval tax collectors -- or like HP for ink as a modern day equivalent -- and still be a lot cheaper.

      2. You obviously skipped past half the sentence you answer to. The problem with just using the (not so) cheap natural stuff is:

      A) it's extremely addictive stuff. And actually the real problem with that isn't the obvious "OMG, it's getting people addicted." It's that, like all physiological addictions:

      - you're building resistance to it

      - it's moving the baseline state to worse

      So soon you'll either need more and more nicotine to actually fix that schizophrenia, or you'll need your regular fixes just to keep yourself at the point where you'd be if you never started with it in the first place. And you'll actually be worse off when you can't get your fix.

      B) it creates a bunch of other problems. E.g., that it's a vasoconstrictor (which is actually the root of more smoking-related health problems than the smoke in the lungs), or that it inhibits osteoblasts (so if you treat someone post-menopause generously enough with it, they'll get fractures), etc.

      C) nicotine is a poison. It's only safe to use because there's very little in a cigarette, and most of it burns. You're actually getting very little of it in your system. But there just isn't that much margin between that and when things start to get uglier. So especially in view of problem A, you don't want a treatment which will over time escalate dangerously close to the toxic dosage to do anything.

      • Re:Cheap? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sjames (1099) on Friday August 07, 2009 @09:42AM (#28985931) Homepage

        You obviously haven't done any research on the drugs currently used to treat schizophrenia!

        1. I don't know where you live, but around here with all the taxes the cigarettes are probably the most expensive imaginable way to get your nicotine fix.

        Shouldn't socialized medicine cover that?

        A) it's extremely addictive stuff. And actually the real problem with that isn't the obvious "OMG, it's getting people addicted." It's that, like all physiological addictions: - you're building resistance to it - it's moving the baseline state to worse

        That is true of the current treatments as well. All have tolerance effects.

        B) it creates a bunch of other problems. E.g., that it's a vasoconstrictor (which is actually the root of more smoking-related health problems than the smoke in the lungs), or that it inhibits osteoblasts (so if you treat someone post-menopause generously enough with it, they'll get fractures), etc.

        Meanwhile, the anti-psychotics are extremely hard on the liver. With chronic use they often cause irreversible tardive dyskinesia or worse, akathisia (which makes sitting still literally unbearable). The other unpleasant side effects such as sedation, slowness of thought, anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure), etc are what drive so many patients to discontinue their meds (dangerous without medical supervision BTW) in spite of the near certainty that they will relapse if they do.

        The harmful effects of nicotine are benign in comparison even if you smoke it rather than using a patch or pill.

        C) nicotine is a poison.

        Literally ALL drugs are poisons. The only thing that makes a poison a drug is that it's effect may be medically useful and that it's dose can be controlled adequately in a medical setting such that the positive effects will outweigh the negative.

        Take too much Tylenol (for example) and you will die the same way as if you ate poisonous mushrooms. Take too much of an anti-psychotic and you will die. Take too much nicotine and you will die.

        • by Moraelin (679338)

          Nevertheless, if they think they can manufacture a synthetic substitute which is less toxic or addictive, I see no problem with it. Do you?

        • by shiftless (410350)

          Take too much Tylenol (for example) and you will die the same way as if you ate poisonous mushrooms. Take too much of an anti-psychotic and you will die. Take too much nicotine and you will die.

          Smoke too much marijuana and you will.... fall into a deep, peaceful sleep.

          Not ALL medicines are poison.

      • As opposed to all the drugs they advertise on TV that cause anal leakage and severe risk of stroke?

        We are all different and some people can handle a cigarette every now and then and some people have to have a pack a day. Just like not everyone that takes the TV drug will get anal leakage or suffer a stroke.

      • Re:Cheap? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by value_added (719364) on Friday August 07, 2009 @10:41AM (#28986653)

        I don't know where you live, but around here with all the taxes the cigarettes are probably the most expensive imaginable way to get your nicotine fix.

        Probably true if nicotine is what you're after. Seems to me that there's more to smoking than just nicotine just as there's more to brewing a fresh cup of great coffee and sitting down to drink it hot than what's offered in a caffeine pill. On any number of different levels.

        I'm impressed at the advances of science in recent years, but I'm old enough to know that an advance here or there combined with a recommendation du jour doesn't necessarily mean much more than saying "Hey, we figured this much out!" You take what's complex and assert it's simple, then talk about poison without recognising that most anything in sufficient quantities can be lethal. And that what's called poison in small enough doses is often given the term "medicine" and sold by prescription.

        Quite frankly, I find the reductio ad absurdum approach toward food and other substances an unfortunate trend. We have people spending their lives standing in aisles reading labels, believing that meat and fish are nothing more than protein, taking an iron pill is the equivalent of eating green leafy vegetables, drinking red wine equivalent of an intake of retrovil and alcohol, and the chocolate is just a bunch of calories.

        Sorry, but I'm going to insist on going the less efficient and more expensive route. I'll buy my fruits and vegetables based on looks, taste and freshness, and I'll consume meat because my body tells me it's yummy and it's good for me. If I read a label, it'll be on the bottle of wine I'm drinking. When done, I'll drink my coffee and smoke a cigarette because I enjoy both of them (and their effects) too much to care what the latest scientific studies purport to tell me they do or don't do.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BlueStrat (756137)

      Nicotine itself is unlikely to make an effective treatment, because of its side effects and addictive potential, but drugs known as nicotinic agonists, which target nicotine receptors in the brain, are front runners in the challenge to find an effective replacement.

      Haha. So rather than use a cheap natural solution it's better to get the expensive patented synthetic stuff. Riiiiiight... Now I see.

      Of course! The pharma interests can't have people just willy-nilly feeling better without paying THEM!! Where wou

      • by mike260 (224212)

        It's no secret to smokers that smoking helps one to relax and improves concentration.

        Errrr, sort of. Smoking relieves the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, thus (temporarily) restoring your ability to relax and concentrate. It's a bug, not a feature.

        Besides, why live so long if one can't enjoy themselves?

        Presumably you've never watched a loved-one very slowly die of cancer, yes?

        I'm all for your right to do whatever the hell you want with your body, but advocating smoking is fairly retarded.

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          And of course we know that everyone who smokes gets cancer right?

          Actually, it's less then 20% of smokers who get cancer from their smoking. Still a high number but we take higher odds and risk our life every day.

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:08AM (#28985085)

    And all this time I thought that the voice in my head telling me not to smoke was common sense.

  • I would have thought smoking would bring on mental problems in the first place rather than be a palliative. Smokers have reduced lung function, less oxygen in the blood, which I think would lead to a more poorly functioning brain (as well as other organs), leading to things like depression and other mental problems.

    • by blincoln (592401) on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:16AM (#28985161) Homepage Journal

      I would have thought smoking would bring on mental problems in the first place rather than be a palliative.

      Nicotine improves brain function even in non-schizophrenics, because it binds to acetylcholine receptors [howstuffworks.com]. Of course, the most common delivery methods have one or two negative side effects.

      • I've been told, and I have no proof, that in fact nicotine withdrawal reduces brain function, and getting the fix just restores normality. Nicotine causes permanent changes in the brain.

        This is an argument against Intelligent Design: for God to design a plant to do that, he would have to be malicious. That, or work for the tobacco industry.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nahdude812 (88157) *

          I'm not sure I follow the logic. God also designed rocks, and they can inhibit brain function when applied to the brain in certain ways also. Is the fact that humans aren't indestructible proof that God doesn't exist?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Were smoking a cause of mental issues(in any significant number of cases) we almost certainly would have noticed. Smoking rates, and amounts smoked per person, have plummeted [gallup.com] since the 40's. We've been able to detect drops in other smoking related conditions; if psychiatric problems are smoking related, that should show up too.
      • by sjames (1099) on Friday August 07, 2009 @09:46AM (#28985983) Homepage

        Meanwhile, prescriptions for anti-depressants have skyrocketed....

        • Given that they were only invented in the 50's, and most of the early ones had pretty unpleasant side effects, they had nowhere to go but up...(and, it might be argued, they were in many cases displacing tranquilizers).

          On the other hand, it wouldn't be too hard to argue for social changes being a factor...
      • by jonbryce (703250)

        But it appears that smoking rates have not falled amoungst mad people, and people who have a tendancy to find themselves in prison. They are still at around 90% of the the population, whereas for everyone else, it has fallen to around 25%.

    • by Duradin (1261418)

      This may not be true in this particular case, but I really love it when people go on and on about the dangers of smoking while they themselves live in smog filled cities.

      Lung, kettle, black.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by russotto (537200)

        This may not be true in this particular case, but I really love it when people go on and on about the dangers of smoking while they themselves live in smog filled cities.

        Unless you're living in Los Angeles, Mexico City or <insert city in China's industrial regions here> you're not getting anything like the amount of nastiness in primary cigarette smoke just by breathing the air.

      • by Trahloc (842734)
        Being someone who lives in the heart of downtown LA ... It takes a couple hundred feet to even get the barest hint of smog in the air on the *worst* smoggy days, thousands and thousands of feet otherwise. On the other hand I can barely see a smokers face when they exhale, much less trying to see inside their mouth. Now when it comes to stench I'd rather stand next to a bum who hasn't showered in weeks than a smoker ... I get to smell both far too often while waiting for the walk sign to light up so this
  • Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dustie (1253268) on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:10AM (#28985097)

    As I suffer from schizophrenia myself I know how bad your memory can get because of it. Maybe there is a connection between I stopped smoking and I (finally) got a diagnose on what was wrong with me. Perhaps it made the symptoms clearer?

    I sure hope it is correct and doesn't get debunked.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I suppose a way to test it for yourself would be to get the patch or the gum and see if it helps you. At least that way, you're not getting most of the bad stuff too.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by martas (1439879)
      i'd say it's more likely that once you stopped smoking, your doctors stopped assuming that all of your problems are caused by cigarettes.
  • Not really news (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cashman73 (855518)
    This isn't exactly breaking news. It's long been known that nicotine has had positive cognitive and memory-enhancing benefits in most people. So the fact that it might help someone with schizophrenia to get somewhat "back to normal" doesn't really surprise me. Not sure if I'd recommend that they smoke, though. There are other ways of delivering nicotine to the brain without all the other crap that cigarettes have associated with them,...
  • by Fished (574624) <amphigory@gAAAmail.com minus threevowels> on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:14AM (#28985127)
    Nicotine can also be a potent self-medication for other mental health issues. For example, nicotine (as a stimulant) is often used by those with ADHD to self-medicate.
    • For example, nicotine (as a stimulant) is often used by those with ADHD to self-medicate.
      Caffeine, too. My son isn't bad enough to need Ritalin or Adderal, but we'll frequently give him a Mountain Dew (8oz can) while he does his homework.

      I lean more toward mocha at work, but walking a mile or two also does wonders for ADD symptoms the next day.

      • by Duradin (1261418)

        Try getting him to drink unsweetened coffee. Sugar can lessen the effects of the caffeine.

        Light roasts have a higher caffeine content than dark roasts and would probably be more palatable for someone new to coffee.

  • by LabRat007 (765435) on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:15AM (#28985149) Homepage
    Schizophrenics have been said to "self medicate" with nicotine for YEARS. When I started in the field in 1998 it was already a conclusion everyone was working under.

    Schizophrenia Bulletin 1998 24(2):189-202;

    A series of human and animal investigations has suggested that altered expression and function of the {alpha}7-nicotinic cholinergic receptor may be responsible for the auditory sensory gating deficit characterized in schizophrenia patients and their relatives as diminished suppression of an auditory-evoked response (P50) to repeated stimuli. This finding, in conjunction with evidence for familial transmission of this sensory gating deficit, suggests a pathogenic role of the gene for the {alpha}7-nicotinic receptor in schizophrenia. This article considers the possible effects of this dysfunction in a broader context. Not only is this dysfunction consistent with difficulties in sensory gating, but it might also pre dispose patients to problems with learning efficiency and accuracy. Such learning problems could underlie schizophrenia patients' delusional thinking, hallucinations, and social dysfunction. In addition, heavy smoking in many schizophrenia patients is consistent with the high concentration of nicotine necessary to activate the receptor and with the receptor's extremely rapid desensitization. Finally, the receptor's possible role in cell growth and differentiation should be considered in connection with developmental deficits and other cellular abnormalities in schizophrenia.
  • FTFA:

    The participants showed improvement in brain function, including less impulsive behaviour and better levels of attention, which are both unrelated to nicotine withdrawal, said Barr. ...
    Ultimately, the aim of the research is to reduce the number of schizophrenics who smoke cigarettes.

    On average, life expectancy in people with the condition is reduced by 10 years in large part due to cardiovascular disease and smoking-related cancer (see Why nicotine is bad for you, Cosmos Online).

    Nicotine itself is unli

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Desler (1608317)
      Except the doctor never endorsed smoking. He even says in the article:

      "Now, the rationale is to provide a more strategic treatment in the form of a skin patch or nasal spray to avoid the toxins in cigarette smoke. This is the way to go," he said.

      I know this is BadAnalogyGuy but that was just sloppy trolling at best.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "And addictive potential."

      I find this part curious. Yes, nicotine is crazy addictive, well up there with the zestiest of the drugs that the state doesn't approve of. However, in this case, does it matter?

      Schizophrenia is, pending significant advances not yet made, incurable. People unlucky enough to develop it will be affected for their entire lives. If a given drug is useful, they aren't going to stop taking it, so being addicted seems like an irrelevant inconvenience. Obviously, cigarettes are a lou
      • I find this part curious. Yes, nicotine is crazy addictive, well up there with the zestiest of the drugs that the state doesn't approve of. However, in this case, does it matter?

        I agree with what you're saying, but I'd suggest it matters, but in a different way. A doctor schooled in the habit of prescribing "meds" for behavioural problems prefers that his patients rely on those meds. As would the pharmaceutical companies. And just about everyone even remotely involved in the care of such patients.

        We can'

      • by sjames (1099) on Friday August 07, 2009 @10:32AM (#28986523) Homepage

        The same strange doublethink happens with opoid painkillers for people in chronic pain. They pop liver damaging analgesics like dope fiends because they experience unbearable pain if they stop, but they can't have cheap opiates in appropriate doses because they might pop them like a dope fiend and be unable to stop.

    • by sjames (1099) on Friday August 07, 2009 @10:26AM (#28986439) Homepage

      It is amusing when the boogyman turns out to have an upside, isn't it?

      While I'm sure that in a clinical setting, the route of administration would be pills, patch, gum, or nasal spray the anti-smoking crowd STILL can't stand the thought that nicotine might enhance cognition and memory or have fewer and milder side-effects than the drugs already being used.

      The pharmaceutical companies are fully on the bandwagon with them, m,ostly because they can't patent nicotine.

      Together they cry out that surely it will turn out that only some patented expensive drug that works just like nicotine (except it doesn't strangle puppies) will be the answer. It can't possibly be Nicorette or the patch.

  • Old News (Score:5, Informative)

    by cffrost (885375) on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:17AM (#28985171) Homepage
    Smoking Away Schizophrenia? [scientificamerican.com] Scientific American Mind, 2007-11-27.

    Scientific American also published an article in 2003 suggesting that a by-product of nicotine can slow the onset of Alzheimer's disease. [scientificamerican.com] It does not take a nicotine-addict to see that CNS stimulants can have beneficial effects on brain function.
  • Also Helps With... (Score:5, Informative)

    by ItMustBeEsoteric (732632) <ryangilbertNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:21AM (#28985209)
    Ulcerative colitis [wikipedia.org] (warning, gross picture of internals). I've been a sufferer since I was in my early teens, and was in a state of active flare ups for nearly five years, even going to the hospital now and then. I've been on dozens of medications for it, from immunosuppressants to steroids to everything doctors could come up with.

    When I was 19, a doctor mentioned smoking, off the record. He didn't want to actively advise me to smoke, but I was 19 and in danger of needing my colon surgically removed already. I, like a good geek, read everything about it I could find. I hated my first pack of cigs, but by the time I was through it--nearly a week--my symptoms were subsiding. Since then, one flare up in six years that lasted for two weeks. Trade-offs, eh?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Sir,

          I sympathize with your problem and I am glad that smoking helps you out. However, is it necessary for you to smoke to obtain nicotine or could you obtain it through a less harmful means than smoking such as a nicotine patch, for example?

          I wonder if there is a way you could medicate yourself with fewer risk of downsides such as lung cancer by getting nicotine in some other way.

      Regards,

      --PeterM

      • by ItMustBeEsoteric (732632) <ryangilbertNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 07, 2009 @09:27AM (#28985781)
        In reply to the question on smoking:

        At 19, I was stupid and didn't think of anything aside from smoking as a solution. After a few years and not being able to run like I used to, I started looking for another option. The gum made my mouth feel rotten, and something about the delivery mechanism of the patch (the steady delivery, perhaps?) didn't give me the "kick" I was, frankly, addicted to.

        Technology, though, is a hell of a thing. These days, I use a cigarette-sized atomizer. It delivers nicotine, water vapor, propelyne glycol, and optional flavoring on inhales. Nothing else--no burning, no other carcinogens. Charges by USB, one cartridge has 16mg nicotine and lasts 150 puffs, so it's trivial to determine dosage. I still call it "smoking" though it's not Sure, start up cost is high, but my health prefers as few carcinogens as possible. Also, it's less obnoxious to people around me. Anyone in the same boat should seriously look at them--handles the fixation as well as delivering nicotine.

        Have to admit, now and then I do enjoy a good cigar, though.
    • by zacronos (937891)
      Just some idle curiosity here:

      Is it some effect of smoking, or just of the nicotine? If the nicotine, is some other vector (gum, patch, etc) equally effective with less health risks? I assume there must be some reason a doctor would choose to specifically recommend smoking rather than some other form of nicotine. Or perhaps it is just cost -- do you get more nicotine per dollar from cigarettes? The summary above seems to focus on nicotine for schizophrenia, which is why I am curious as to whether it
    • You might want to look at getting an electronic cigarette. Nobody knows the long term consequences, but short term they're a fairly clean nic delivery method that give a pretty solid sort of smoking experience.
  • Derrrr (Score:5, Funny)

    by BigBlueOx (1201587) on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:28AM (#28985255)
    Nicotine sharpens the mind while simultaneously relaxing the muscles. That's why it's so addictive. Duh.

    In fact, personally, I blame the lack of smoking by people for the general dumbing-down of everyone and everything including Slashdot. Oh? You doubt me? Ha! Just go read some of the threads on Slashdot from back in the 40s and 50s and compare it to the drivel of today. Notice, in particular, the civility of discourse and the lack of Linux/Apple/Microsoft fanbois. You'll see.
  • Cartilage (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Baldrson (78598) * on Friday August 07, 2009 @08:42AM (#28985351) Homepage Journal
    One of the less known bad effects of nicotine is destruction of cartilage. This can show up as lower back pain or knee pain. [bmj.com]
  • Not Surprising (Score:2, Informative)

    by Annwvyn (1611587)
    Nicotine's affects on the mind and body have been known for quite some time, but that it can CLINICALLY help schizophrenics is a step forward for them (drugs tend to be testy with psych patients). Quite a few of our medicines come from plants, and nicotine in itself is not very harmful (I administer more dangerous drugs on the back of the ambulance). Just remember, it is the SMOKE AND ADDITIVES that cause the cancer and COPD... not the nicotine itself. Because it is tied to smoking nicotine has a bad st
  • Sin tax? (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by scorp1us (235526)
    So now the government is heavily taxing a medication for a specific condition. Do you think they'll repeal these taxes, or just continue to tax wht is now medication? From what I know medications are tax-free. So now I have to get a prescription to smoke? Where do I get my cigarettes tax free?
  • i wonder why there's never been a tobacco tea?

    i know tobacco is a stew of horrible glycosides, alkaloids, and other plant poisons (which of course, is all nicotine really is: its just the plant saying "stop eating me!"), and boiling tobacco in water might deliver far less nicotine and far more bitter tasting horrible for you glycoalkaloids

    but still, there's got to be a cheap natural way to get nicotine without getting lung cancer and without forking over lots of money to pharmaceutical companies

    lots of othe

    • Nicotine is a powerful poison. It is pretty difficult to poison yourself (acutely) with cigs because you'd start puking and be unable to continue smoking fast enough. A tea, on the other hand, would allow the user to brew two or three or four bags at once, drink it, and die.

      Also, tobacco is a terrible thing to swallow. Ask anyone who uses chew about their first time using it- I can almost guarantee that they swallowed, and then puked.

      -b

      • as is the problem with most potent drugs in difficult to manage delivery forms, its hard to calibrate the right dose that exists somewhere between intended effect, and death

    • That magic way for smokers to get their nic without most of the nasties is Electronic Cigs. It's still a bit ugly, but we expect pure chemically synthesized nicotine mixed with pure propylene glycol to be an easy to find option soon, as suppliers wise up the the tetchyness of being caught between small Chinese suppliers and the FDA.
  • by goffster (1104287) on Friday August 07, 2009 @10:17AM (#28986343)

    Many schizophrenics are chain smokers, because for many of them,
    the demons hold their tongue for the duration of the cig, and a few minutes after

  • FWIW (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mindbrane (1548037) on Friday August 07, 2009 @10:23AM (#28986397) Journal
    Schizophrenia isn't very well defined and, to further complicate things, there are diagnoses that couple schizophrenia with other disorders that, in turn, aren't well defined. Two current, prevalent theories, not necessarily at odds, suggest on one hand that schizophrenia is tied directly into the dopamine system, and, OTOH, that schizophrenia is a disorder arising from the brain's architecture. The first theory usually involves medications that dampen the dopamine system but that have, literally, potentially killer, side effects. The idea that schizophrenia is tied to the brain's architecture is broad and incorporates ideas that there are genetic, congenial causes for schizophrenia that can be exacerbated by environmental factors, such as physical, or, emotional insult or forms of neglect. Concurrent with the second view is that the small, inter neurons that connect long range disparate neural pathways don't function up to par in schizophrenics. Smoking cigarettes is prevalent among schizophrenics but given the lack of consensus as to what constitutes schizophrenia it's unlikely that a link between the effects of nicotine and schizophrenic symptoms is rigorous or robust. Nicotine and caffeine both seem to be disproportionatley favoured by certain types of uni students. I doubt there's any significant representation of schizophrenia among said population of students.

    The positive symptoms of schizophrenia are those the public is most likely to bring to mind when envisioning schizophrenics, these include auditory hallucinations and paranoid behaviour. It's these symptoms that seem to be most amenable to treatment with drugs that act on the dopamine system. The second set of the disease's symptoms are termed negative symptoms and include social isolation and degrees of depression. These secondary symptoms currently have few effective treatments. My best guess would be that nicotine and smoking, (the ritual and anachronistic, Freudian, oral pleasure) treat the secondary symptoms.

    FWIW I'm a diagnosed schizophrenic with a uni education and a plus 160 IQ. I've been diagnosed as schizophrenic, schizo-affective, and, possibly not schizophrenic at all; but my favourite diagnosis came from a neuropsychiatrist, who, upon learning that I had begun studies of epistemology at age 17, said: "People who study epistemology... (long pause)... I don't know... (head shaking)... I just don't know." My case seems to be the more interesting because I recognized my symptoms and sought medical attention, and, while suffering the full range of symptoms, was able to deal with them as symptoms of a disease and not as in any way defining who I am or considering them as causes of action. John Nash, he of "A Beautiful Mind" escaped the symptoms of his schizophrenia when he learned not to argue with his voices. The most debilitating aspect of schizophrenia is that people seem not to understand that it's a brain based disease and that the mind, as put by a neuroscientist, is just the brain doing it's job. More high functioning schizophrenics are able to get on with their lives because schizophrenia is now known to be a a disease no different than any other and the symptoms can be detected, marked, treated, minimized, and, over time, all but disregarded in day to day life.

  • Cool! Do they have an article called "The top 10 moves to make your mice scream in ecstasy", or "Things your lab rats don't want you to know (but secretly wish you did)"?

  • by Spit (23158)

    If you like tobacco and nicotene, but don't like smoking or spitting, I recommend snus. Get the real deal from Sweden.

  • by ami.one (897193) <amitabhr@@@gmail...com> on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:39AM (#28987367)

    Electronic Cigarettes (more accurately -Personal Vaporizer or PV) simply vaporize a nicotine solution to avoid the harmful effects of smoke and its 8000 chemicals.

    I was on a pack a day for 15 years and in a month of starting 'vaping' i have gone to zero analog cigarettes without missing my nic kick.

    Checkout Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] for basic info or ecig-forum [e-cigarette-forum.com] for detailed info.

    These look like normal cigarettes, have rechargeable batteries with convenient cartridges or refilling BUT it does takes a week or two to get everything right,so be careful of which model etc you choose. Ask me for advise if in doubt.

    Incidentally, FDA is trying to ban them for some of the most stupid reasons [washingtontimes.com]

    AND - I am not associated with any seller etc. so its not a plug. Just trying to help !

  • Caffeine Anyone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by filesiteguy (695431) <kai@perfectreign.com> on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:51AM (#28987513) Homepage
    I have a cousin diagnosed as schizophrenic. He's 33 and lives at home with no ability to maintain a simple job.

    Now, prior to being diagnosed a few years back, he self-medicated with both cigarettes and alcohol. I wonder - if nicotene is a stimulant - wouldn't a few Red Bull cans or even Ritalin do the same job? I figure I'm ADAD, and I love my caffeine. I don't really care for smoking though I can see its benefits. (It has its drawbacks also, as my two-pack/day father passed away at the early age of 67.)
  • Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stuntpope (19736) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:37PM (#28988919)

    Years ago I had a girlfriend who rarely smoked. She started having episodes of severe depression with hospitalization, with diagnoses including personality disorder and I believe schizophrenia. During these times she would smoke nearly non-stop. Self-medicating?

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