Beneficial effects of nicotine

Br J Addict. 1991 May;86(5):571-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.1991.tb01810.x.


Nicotine in tobacco brings illness and death to millions of people. Yet nicotine in its pure form has the potential to be a valuable pharmaceutical agent. Nicotine fairly specifically binds to the cholinergic nicotinic gating site on cationic ion channels in receptors throughout the body. This action stimulates the release of a variety of neurotransmitters including especially catecholamines and serotonin. When chronically taken, nicotine may result in: (1) positive reinforcement, (2) negative reinforcement, (3) reduction of body weight, (4) enhancement of performance, and protection against; (5) Parkinson's disease (6) Tourette's disease (7) Alzheimers disease, (8) ulcerative colitis and (9) sleep apnea. The reliability of these effects varies greatly but justifies the search for more therapeutic applications for this interesting compound.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Arousal / drug effects
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall / drug effects
  • Neurocognitive Disorders / psychology
  • Nicotine / adverse effects
  • Nicotine / therapeutic use*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology


  • Nicotine