Could nicotine possibly be good for you?
Short answer: Yes... sort of, and a new study shows again how the most addictive ingredient in cigarettes could help boost the brain.
But don't start smoking -- because trust me, any "benefits" of nicotine are far outweighed by the risks.
In the new study, researchers didn't even look at smokers. They recruited 67 non-smokers with mild cognitive impairment, one of the earliest warning signs of dementia, and assigned them to wear either a nicotine patch or a placebo patch.
After six months, those who had the real patch did a little better on cognitive tests than those who got the placebo -- and didn't show any signs of side effects or even addiction.
It's not too surprising, since nicotine is known to mimic a common neurotransmitter that often goes missing in people with dementia and other cognitive disorders.
It does such a good job of it, in fact, that it pretty much behaves exactly like that neurotransmitter once it's in the brain -- and it's one of the reasons smokers get a quick boost in concentration after they light up.
These brain-boosting benefits are among the reasons Big Pharma has been hard at work on a nicotine pill -- not to help smokers quit, but to bring the supposed benefits of nicotine to nonsmokers.
But no matter how they try to sell you that nicotine, whether it's in a pill, patch or pipe, it's just not worth it -- because there are far better and more effective ways to boost your brainpower and slash your risk of dementia.
Start with the ordinary B vitamins you can get from any vitamin shop. One recent groundbreaking study found that seniors who were given a blend of B6, B12 and folate did 70 percent better on memory tests than seniors who took a placebo.
In fact, seniors who took the supplement improved by just about every measure, with boosts in episodic memory, semantic memory and overall global cognition. They even had lower levels of homocysteine, an inflammation marker linked to dementia, heart disease and more.
And along with memory, B vitamins can help with everything from mood to muscle.
With benefits like that, why mess around with nicotine?