(NaturalNews) Tobacco is some kind of "devil weed," only good for making chemical-laden products like cigarettes, known to promote cancer. At least, that's the current take on this plant. But that's certainly not the whole truth about tobacco, which has been used historically by many cultures both in religious rituals and also as a natural therapy for various ailments from colds to tuberculosis.
In modern times, science has documented health benefits in tobacco's compounds. For example, a study performed at Stanford concluded that nicotine can boost the growth of new blood vessels and might lead to novel treatments for poor circulation in diabetics. In addition, Duke University scientists found that nicotine patches could help depression.
So why aren't these benefits derived from tobacco widely known? The reason, as Mike Adams covered in a previous NaturalNews report (http://www.naturalnews.com/032795_tobacco_warning_labels.html) is simple: the FDA and mainstream medical doctors continue to equate the dangers of smoking chemically-laced "processed" cigarettes with anything that has to do with natural tobacco and the potentially health-building compounds it contains.
However, a new study just published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, may hopefully change that attitude because it shows nicotine from tobacco seems to do what countless, expensive Big Pharma pills have failed at -- it improves mild memory loss in older adults.
Dramatic improvements in memory
According to the new research, previous short-term studies have already shown that nicotine helps improve memory and attention span in people with Alzheimer's disease. This shouldn't be a huge surprise because nicotine stimulates receptors in the brain that are important for thinking and memory skills and people suffering from Alzheimer's disease are known to lose some of these receptors.
The new study investigated whether nicotine could help people with mild cognitive impairment -- the stage before dementia when people have mild memory or thinking problems but are not disabled. The Vanderbilt University School of Medicine study involved 74 research subjects with an average age of 76 who had mild cognitive impairment and who didn't smoke. Half of the group received a 15 mg. nicotine patch daily for six months while the other half of the study participants received a placebo. At the start of the study, the research subjects were given tests of their memory and thinking ability and these tests were repeated again at three and six months after they were placed on either the nicotine or dummy patch.
At the end of six months, the results were dramatic. Although the placebo group's mental abilities had decreased by 26 percent over this time period, the nicotine-treated group had regained a remarkable 46 percent of normal performance for age on long-term memory.
There were no serious side effects observed the people receiving the nicotine patch, either. Vanderbilt's Paul Newhouse, MD, head author of the study, pointed out in a media statement that the research provides strong justification for further investigation into the use of nicotine for people with early signs of memory loss.