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Nicotine

Does nicotine help protect the brain from developing Parkinson's disease?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: nicotine, Parkinson's disease, health news

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(NaturalNews) The general consensus nowadays is that smoking cigarettes is harmful to health, and that it can lead to heart disease and cancer. But what about pure nicotine derived directly from the tobacco plant? According to a new study published in The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB Journal), the nicotine alkaloid may actually provide neurological protection in the brain, and effectively prevent the onset of diseases like Parkinson's.

Patrick P. Michel, co-author of the study from the Institut du Cerveau at de la Moelle Epiniere, Hopital de la Salpetriere in Paris, France, and his colleagues tested their theory on two groups of mice -- one group was normal, and the other one had been genetically engineered without alpha-7 subtype, the nicotine receptor. The team first took brain tissue samples from the two groups and cultured them in such a way as to encourage the loss of dopamine neurons, which is what typically occurs as Parkinson's develops.

Upon analysis, the team noted that the group of normal mice responded positively to the addition of nicotine, which essentially saved their dopamine neurons from dying and leading to disease. The GE mice without their nicotine receptors, however, did not respond at all to the nicotine, and their brain conditions only worsened, which shows that nicotine actually does provide some type of neuroprotective benefit.

"This study raises the hope for a possible neuroprotective treatment of patients at an early step of the disease, or even before at a stage where the disease has not been diagnosed according to motor criteria," said Michel concerning potential new treatment options for Parkinson's.

Though obviously not a signal to go ahead and begin smoking cigarettes in the name of promoting health, the findings do offer new insight into the nicotine compound and its potential health benefits. Additional known benefits of nicotine include its ability to improve nerve function, particularly in those suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other brain conditions (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10...).

Editor's Note: NaturalNews is strongly against the use of all forms of animal testing, especially when genetic manipulation is involved. We fully support implementation of humane medical experimentation that promotes the health and well-being of all living creatures.

Sources for this story include:

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-...
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