Ulcerative colitis and Nicotine
Ulcerative colitis is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that affects the colon of the stomach, often time resulting in ulcers forming that causes severe diarrhea and discomfort for anyone that has this disease. There is no cure for this disease, but there are some treatments. Some work quite well depending on the person, but sometimes the treatment has little to no effect. However, it seems nicotine could have a preventative role in conquering this disease. It seems people with diagnosed ulcerative colitis have less severe symptoms when they are habitual nicotine users than those who are non-smokers. In fact, there are more people with this disease with non-smokers than there are with smokers.
Back in 1999 a study was done to see the effects of nicotine for patients diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Instead of tobacco cigarettes, nicotine gum was used instead (which makes a lot more sense if you think about it). The results were definitely interesting. It seems nicotine does have a positive effect on the ulcerative colitis patients. In fact, patients that used the nicotine treatment had fewer flair ups than patients that were treated with steroids (a common treatment with inflammation).
Oddly enough Crohn's disease has a complete opposite effect with nicotine (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8119535). Crohn’s disease is a similar inflammatory bowel disease but unlike ulcerative colitis, it affects the entire gastrointestinal tract rather than just the colon. In fact, smokers who have Crohn’s disease are more prone to relapses in flair ups, as well as surgeries. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis although in the same category are two separate diseases. Unfortunately, they are often misdiagnosed. Please talk to a doctor before using nicotine as a treatment if you have either one of these diseases as depending on which one you have could have vastly different results. Although it is highly unlikely your physician would prescribe nicotine as a course of treatment, there is nothing wrong with at least asking.
Now here’s the part we have all been waiting for…what if we used electronic cigarettes to manage ulcerative colitis? I understand that back when the research was done, for a non-smoker to start smoking would be detrimental to their health, the nicotine patch and gum often gave more nicotine in a single dose than required, and chewing tobacco, like cigarettes, are a nasty habit to start doing. Now, of course, there are electronic cigarettes, which unlike tobacco cigarettes don’t have as many of the deadly carcinogens as well as the nasty cigarette smell. With electronic cigarettes, there are various nicotine levels as well. This means if a ulcerative colitis had headaches or dizziness when using nicotine as a treatment for their disease, the level of nicotine can be reduced, unlike a regular cigarette. Please keep in mind I am not stating to use electronic cigarettes to manage ulcerative colitis. The point of this article is to bring up the idea of using electronic cigarettes as nicotine has proven to have positive effects on the disease. Absolutely talk with your primary care physician prior to making any changes to your treatment.
The 1999 study can be found here: