Nicotine Boosts Brainpower


My mouth was dry and eyes were wide. If anyone had tried talking to me, they would have received a look of annoyance. My mouth was dry but my fingers kept moving. I was in the zone, man.

I was using Provigil, Adderall, or “bulletproof coffee.” I instead had a piece of nicotine gum in my mouth.

With nicotine gum, you chew it until you can feel a little buzz. Then you hold it into your cheek until you need another buzz. After 30 or so minutes, you spit it out.

The cognitive effects of nicotine as startling, as any cigarette smoker will attest to. Nicotine makes your senses more acute. You become more focused and intense. It puts coffee to shame.

Bradley Cooper Limitless

The anecdotal experience of millions of smokers is supported by science. A meta-analysis in science is what happens when researchers pour of hundreds of studies looking for a patter. Here’s what a meta-analysis of nicotine research revealed:

Empirical studies indicate that nicotine enhances some aspects of attention and cognition, suggesting a role in the maintenance of tobacco dependence. The purpose of this review was to update the literature since our previous review (Heishman et al. Exp Clin Psychopharmacol 2:345-395, 1994) and to determine which aspects of human performance were most sensitive to the effects of nicotine and smoking.

There were sufficient effect size data to conduct meta-analyses on nine performance domains, including motor abilities, alerting and orienting attention, and episodic and working memory. We found significant positive effects of nicotine or smoking on six domains: fine motor, alerting attention-accuracy and response time (RT), orienting attention-RT, short-term episodic memory-accuracy, and working memory-RT (effect size range = 0.16 to 0.44).

See, “Meta-analysis of the acute effects of nicotine and smoking on human performance.” Nicotine also protects the brain against Parkinson’s disease. Michael J. Fox should have been a smoker:

Preliminary analysis shows improvements after acute nicotine in several areas of cognitive performance, particularly measures such as reaction time, central processing speed, and decreased tracking error. Improvements in attention and semantic retrieval were not seen. After chronic nicotine, improvements were seen in several motor measures suggesting improved extrapyramidal functioning. This appeared to be sustained for up to 1 month after drug. The treatment was well tolerated. Nicotinic stimulation may have promise for improving both cognitive and motor aspects of Parkinson’s disease.

See, “The effects of nicotine on Parkinson’s disease.”

Smoking is a filthy habit that causes wrinkles and premature aging. It’s not the nicotine – or even the tobacco, really – that makes smoking filthy. Smoking is horrible because of the additives and other junk tobacco companies put into cigs. There’s a way to get the benefits of smoking without the detriments.

It’s possible to boost brain performance without ever lighting up. Some guys using the patch, since it gives a transdermal, slow-release of nicotine. Others use gum and still others rock an e-cig.

I’ve used nicotine gum. It’s potent stuff. Start off slowly or you might throw up.

Check out: Is NZT From Limitless Real?

  • Zampano

    American Spirits are additive free. Less smelly, and you aren’t inhaling a bunch of ridiculous chemicals.

    Just throwing that out there, for those of us that love smoke in the lungs.

    Great post.

  • RM Odom

    I agree with this mostly.

    Cigarettes do cause cancer from the other additives, but one such additive ( MAO – I inhibitors) cause nicotine to become much more potent.

    I prefer ecigs ( and I recommend every one reading this article try them) but it does take a few more puffs to get the desired feel (unless you make DIY juice). Nothing feels quite as good as smoking indoors minus the smell, which is what ecigs offer.

  • krautz

    I think you can go down the same line with many stimulants and other dopamine based drugs.

    Enough sleep, good food, interesting work and clean living will beat stimulants by a long shot.

    • Danger & Play

      Do all of that…then add stimulants. Report back.

      I live a very clean life and am stimulant free.

      If I drink an espresso, my productivity would soar.

      Don’t be straight edge or a drug denialist.

      Addiction is bad but to say stimulants aren’t amazing is just bad info.

      • krautz

        I drink caffeine a lot myself. I notice I don’t want caffeine nearly as much and caffeine doesn’t do much when I do those things. Dave Asprey on a bulletproof executive podcast said something similar with modafinil. I know the things help, but I don’t kid myself that the gold standard is always better. Drugs have their price.

        Interesting work is probably doing something with dopamine anyway.

  • Matteo

    What about receptors downregulation? And withdrawal syndrome?

    These two aspects do matter as much as the benefits of the drug itself. So that one should know the correct usage frequency.
    I don’t wanna end up like my father who gets headache every time he doesn’t get his daily cup of coffee.

    • Danger & Play

      Drugs should always be used responsibly.

      I haven’t had so much as a cup of coffee for 10 weeks. Life has been chill. Let the receptors calm down.

      When things pick up, then the stimulants come into play.

  • anon1

    reminds me of the joke where the guy has a one night stand and he puts a few nicotine patches on her while she’s sleeping so even though she’s disgusted with him the morning after, she somehow craves the need to spend the night with him. does it several nights in a row and she becomes his girlfriend and cognitive dissonance and reverse rationalisation do the rest

    • anon1

      oh and to anyone reading this, please don’t actually do this

  • Revo Luzione

    Tobacco was long considered a healing plant by American Indians, because it engages the nervous system as you describe.

    My method is to get a good quality, maybe even a top shelf cigar, light it just once, take one puff, and put it out. Cohiba’s rule for this.

    After burning the cigar for one puff & putting it out, I chew on the cigar. It’s a lower intensity of nicotine than chewing tobacco, snus, or snuff, which I like, and it tastes amazing. I don’t have to spit, like with chewing tobacco.(I used those other products for a few years, but quit when my gums started getting less healthy.)

    When the end gets soggy, I cut it off, and go again. If I don’t want to chew it any more, i just let it dry out, then put it back in the refrigerator or freezer, where I keep my stash. A single cigar can last me a week or more of writing & working in front of the computer for a few hours a day.

    I’ll go weeks or months without using the cigar, but pick it up again if I feel the need for that boost.

  • Aurini

    E-cig recommendation: try the caramel flavour, it’s actually a far better recreation of the tobaccos flavour (tastes like smoky whiskey) than the tobacco flavours, which are bitter and pretty gross.

    Personally though, like James Bond, I’ll stick with my Dunhills, thank you.

  • Lamarsh

    I chew two to three pieces of 2mg nicotine gum per day. I smoked cigarettes for about 8 years, then quit, but couldn’t seem to kick the chewing tobacco habit (I hunt and fish, and it’s tough to do those with out a chaw in), and, I couldn’t seem to avoid giving in to the nicotine crave I get first thing in the morning at work right after I have that morning cup of coffee. Anyways, a piece of nic gum right when I get that post-coffee crave keeps me from stepping out for a smoke and from throwing in a lipper; however, I have continued my gum process now for three years AFTER quitting the tobacco products simply because it has become part of my work routine! So, I totally get what D&P is saying here. It absolutely delivers a rush, as it is indeed a stimulant. The problem, of course, is addiction to it, but, like anything else, just be man about it and keep it under control.

  • Lamarsh

    By the way, D&P, did you get my post under “about” regarding Horny Goat Weed? I couldn’t’ tell because it didn’t post, so I’m dropping a note here in case something got messed up, I want to make sure you get this message on HGW. Anyways, I was wondering if you’ve ever tried HGW. After a friend swore by it, I’ve been on it for about a month now, and I see results, I even see results within hours of taking it. Check out this article:

    Let me know what you think.


    • Danger & Play

      It was caught up in the spam folder for some reason. It’s now posted; thanks.

  • Price Weston

    I realize this article is older; the author said “I’ve used nicotine gum. It’s potent stuff.” I haven’t found that to be true at all. As a non smoker, I’ve become interested in nicotine over the years as more and more research sees the light of day. The benefits I’ve seen include cognative and weight loss in addition to it’s stimulant effect. So recently, I decided to try it.

    Gum – no effect. In fact, since there was no effect, I had a difficult time remembering to use a certain amount daily in order to track weight loss. It was just too much bother to deal with gum.

    Lozenges – no effect. On problem is that the reported 20-30 minutes desove time was more like 2 to 2.5 hours. It required almost constant moving from location to location to improve that only a little. More bother than the gum. Again, no effect that I could notice. I did crush one up in a bunch of small pieces to speed up the process and got a temporary round of anxiety. No more crushing.

    Patches. So far no effect. I took the larges mg patches, 21 mg, and from walgreens which could be cut up since they are the matrix type, the nicotine is mixed in with the adhesive. So far worked up to 4 mg a day roughly by cutting up the patch as needed. Have noticed regular dreams but since I don’t get nightmares, none of those. I wear them at least 24 hours, sometime longer by not taking off the old one when I put a new one on. Haven’t noticed anything at all.

    Addiction to any of these products in non-smokers is non-existent and a recently 6 month study in non-smoking elderly with early dementia confirmed that. No withdrawal for them after 6 months of 14 mg patches but definite cognitive improvements.

    • Danger & Play Blog

      Some people are more sensitive to stimulants than others.

      I could never “dip” in high school (use smokeless tobacco) without puking. I tried many times as “dipping” was necessary among the red necks I hung out with and hunted with.

      The nicotine from a single “dip” was enough to put me on my knees.

      When I smoked cigars, I had to be careful to avoid the higher nicotine content ones.

  • Allison Taylor

    I would like to point out that it is not only non-tobacco additives that cause the immense harm from smoking. It is combustion

    Burning tobacco and inhaling the smoke is dangerous because of the tar and carbon monoxide that you get. It has long been said in the public health community that people smoke for the nicotine but die from the tar.

    Unfortunately, because of their ‘abstinence only’ approach they work hard to attribute the death toll from smoking to ‘tobacco’. In reality, any for of smokeless tobacco presents only about 1-2% of the risk that smoking does.

    So, if you like the act of smoking use e-cigs. If it just the nicotine you are after use smokeless tobacco or NRT. Any of these options are safer than smoking be orders of magnitude.