Nicotine to Snuff out Pain

Pamela Flood says she's very excited about nicotine.

Tabitha Powledge
Mar 27, 2005

Pamela Flood says she's very excited about nicotine. In December 2004, the Columbia University anesthesiologist reported on a pilot double-blind study of nicotine for pain-relief in 20 women undergoing gynecological surgery. Test subjects received a single dose of nicotine immediately before emerging from anesthesia. The treated women reported significantly lower pain scores than controls just after surgery, which persisted for 24 hours even with one dose. Treated women also used less morphine and did not experience nicotine's usual side effects: hypertension or tachycardia.1

Nicotine-induced pain relief appears to work through the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), heteropentameric ion channels activated by acetylcholine. The effects seem to work better in women than in men. Researchers led by James C. Eisenach of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston Salem, NC, have traced the sex differences to the α4 β2 subtypes found all over the autonomic and central nervous systems. Estrogen...