|By Jonathan Roseland||Connect|
In this article, I qoute liberally from Head Strong by Dave Asprey; this book makes the case that optimizing your Mitochondria is the ultimate performance enhancing Biohack because your Mitochondria are the fundamental energy generation mechanism that underlie everything else. Dave's exuberiant praises of Nicotine on his excellent podcast was what initially convinced me to try pharma grade Nicotine 5 years after I successfully quit smoking. From the book:
When you get the right amount, nicotine does a lot for you. For starters, it gives you faster, more precise motor function. People show more controlled and fluent handwriting after taking [nicotine] and they’re also able to tap their fingers faster on a keyboard without sacrificing accuracy. [Nicotine] makes you more vigilant, too. Participants who used nicotine patches were able to pay attention to a mentally tiring task longer than controls could. [Nicotine] gum had the same effect. [Nicotine] also sharpens your short-term memory: people who took nicotine better recalled a list of words they’d just read and also made fewer mistakes than people given a placebo when repeating a story word for word... Again, the boost in memory came from both patches and gum. And it has been shown that nicotine can even increase synaptic plasticity. (p. 283)
Is Nicotine Carcinogenic?
That's the million dollar question, isn't it?
Nicotine by itself (separate from tobacco) was associated with cancer in [rats and mice]... However, the cancer link has never shown up in human studies, and a recent literature review found that there was no evidence to show that it caused cancer in humans. We do know, though, that nicotine is poisonous at high doses. You can get really sick if you overuse it. Nicotine gum, lozenges, or leftover patches could hurt or even kill a pet or a child. Store and treat all forms of nicotine with care. (p. 284)
Dave also comments on it's potent creativity stimulating power
I predict that over the next few years it will become much more popular for performance and cognitive enhancement. After all, about 99 percent of the great works of literature in the last two hundred years (p > .05) were written under the influence of caffeine and nicotine, Mother Nature’s original smart drugs. (p. 282)
E-cigs (and vaping) are controversial. Some people say they’re safe, but I have real concerns about the nanoparticles of heavy metals from the e-cig combustion chambers. You don’t want to breathe that stuff in! I tried a high-end e-cig and it caused throat irritation and made me cough even after attempting to get used to it. I don’t use or recommend them, especially because they have an oral sensation like smoking that makes them more addictive. (They’re still far better than smoking or chewing tobacco, however.) (p. 285)
The problem with nicotine gum is that chewing gum causes your trigeminal nerve (associated with chewing) to fire more than it should. Save your chewing for eating, and your jaw (and nervous system) will be healthier. Also, every brand of gum I’ve found has aspartame in it, often along with other questionable artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is an excitatory neurotoxin— avoid it! (p. 285)
Nicotine spray is a more recent invention. Each spray of 1 mg of nicotine contains vanishingly small amounts of sucralose. You spray it under your tongue and feel it quickly, making it an excellent option when you want a burst of sustained energy. I’ve done more than one interview while on this, and I find it’s great for jet lag or when you have a heavy day ahead of you and want to maintain focus. (p. 286)
Usage & Dosage
If you do decide to try nicotine, treat it carefully. A safe bet would be to take it on an ad hoc basis. Use it if you want to be extra-sharp for a big presentation or a three-hour meeting, but don’t use it daily. (p. 286)
According to Powdercity Modafinil has a synergistic effect with nicotine:
Here’s what one researcher has to say about nicotine:
“To my knowledge, nicotine is the most reliable cognitive enhancer that we currently have, bizarrely,” said Jennifer Rusted, professor of experimental psychology at Sussex University in Britain when we spoke. “The cognitive-enhancing effects of nicotine in a normal population are more robust than you get with any other agent. With Provigil, for instance, the evidence for cognitive benefits is nowhere near as strong as it is for nicotine.”
Why does nicotine work so well? It’s a potent nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist. Nicotinic acetylcholine activation suppresses GABAergic inputs to dopaminergic neurons, which elicits dopamine release in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Nicotine decreases the risk of parkinson’s disease, markedly improves working memory, and is underutilized due to its association with tobacco smoking.
If you want to try stacking nicotine with modafinil, start with the lowest possible doses, e.g., 1mg nicotine plus 50mg modafinil. Note that nicotine has a very narrow therapeutic range. Slapping fifteen nicotine patches on your back is a bizarrely popular suicide method precisely because it’s so lethal in overdose. As far as nootropics go, nicotine is probably the most dangerous if you’re not careful.
Mechanism of Action
When nicotine reaches your brain, it binds to nicotinic receptors (guess where they got their name?), activating pathways that control attention, memory, motor function, and pleasure. (p. 283)