Tobacco Asia

Volume 20, Number 2

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Page 19 of 67

20 tobaccoasia / Issue 2, 2016 May / June) tine is also a cognitive enhancer, helping improve concentration and the ability to pay attention as well as reaction time. It achieves these effects by heightening the activity in the brain's cholinergic pathways. Mood enhancement Feeling the blues? Try chewing nicotine gum. Nic- otine has a noticeable effect as a mood enhancer. It raises dopamine levels in the brain and causes it to produce more endorphins. Nicotine also stimu- lates the release of acetylcholine, providing a sense of increased energy. Neurological disorders Nicotine's properties also mean that it helps with the treatment of neurological disorders such as mild cognitive impairment (MCI), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette's syn- drome, and schizophrenia. Nicotine has also been proven to stimulate the release of mood-elevating neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Pre-workout ergogenic aid Perhaps one of the most unexpected domains where nicotine is rapidly gaining a following is – surprise, surprise! – the highly health-conscious crowd consisting of hardcore athletes, bodybuild- ers, power lifters, and HIIT practitioners. One way that may fitness enthusiasts have been using nicotine (in the form of nicotine gum or even nicotine patches) is to give themselves a much-needed pre-workout boost. Much like caf- feine that is a staple of many pre- and peri-work- out nutrition, nicotine allows for greater mental focus, better control, and increase maximal effort during workout. (Of course, this is not something one is advised to practice on any kind of long-term basis: apart from the possible health concerns, the primary reason is that much like the case of a single espresso that stops giving you enough of a kick after a while, forcing you to upend your caf- feine dosage, your body adapts to the nicotine af- ter some time.) In endurance sports Nicotine probably isn't the first substance you'd think of if you want to increase performance among cyclists, but according to researchers at Birmingham University, wearing a nicotine patch before and during exercise may significantly in- crease endurance performance. It has long been known that nicotine im- proves co-ordination and cognitive performance, but its effects on endurance hadn't been previ- ously studied. The Birmingham researchers had 12 moderately-trained, non-smoking individuals, cycle to exhaustion wearing either a regular 7mg transdermal nicotine patch or a replica placebo for eight hours before and during exercise. To the sci- entists' surprise, they found that 10 out of the 12 subjects cycled for longer with the nicotine patch on, resulting, on average, in a huge 17% improve- ment in time to exhaustion. Diet and fat loss Another fairly unorthodox use among the hard- core fitness fanatics is owed to nicotine's acute thermogenic effects. Apparently, nicotine enhanc- es glucose and fat oxidation rates, thus increasing metabolism and boosting lipolysis, or in laymen's terms, helping fat loss. One study showed that a milligram of nicotine has a pronounced thermo- genic effect, which can be increased by approxi- mately 100% by adding 100 mg caffeine. Another way that nicotine has been shown in helping to control one's weight and facilitate fat loss is by reducing the user's appetite as it dulls the feeling of hunger. If fact, this use of nicotine is not that new - people who were trying to lose weight have long been using nicotine to control their appetite, but it is a relatively new fad among weight trainers. We will leave you with one piece of trivia that usually takes most people by surprise: nicotine has been used in energy drinks in Japan for years! In fact, Arnold Schwarzenegger used to do commer- cials for them in his bodybuilding days. So the next time you hear somebody prosely- tizing the dangers of nicotine or pushing the tired old adage that "a drop or nicotine can kill a horse" smile to yourself and remember – it's likely just horse manure.

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