Don’t Try This At Home…

Nicotine Patch

Nicotine Patch

Don’t try this at home. If there was one phrase that could usually spur me into action it’s “Don’t try this at home” or anywhere else for that matter.
My high school chemistry teacher probably still regrets saying “Whatever you do, make sure you don’t drop a big piece of sodium into the flask…” 

Wow, something amazing might happen if I do that,  I’ve always thought, maybe something will explode into fireworks. Maybe it’s so good, they’re just keeping it secret and keeping it to themselves.

Yeah, really stupid thoughts, I know.

Anyway, my brother sent me an older article regarding alzheimer research at Georgetown University oringinally published in the journal “Neurology”and one of the headlines was “Don’t try this at home.” I was immediately curious. Here’s the link to the article .

Basically they gave seniors with mild cognitive impairment 15 gram nicotine patches to boost the nicotinic acetycholine receptors in the brain. It was a small sampling of 74 people aged 76 years old in this blind study but to me the results were almost miraculous and made me want to test it out myself.

 Six months of nicotine patch treatment resulted in patients regaining up to 46 percent of normal performance for their age on certain long-term memory tests. The placebo group worsened by 26 percent during that time.”

That to me is a stunning result. So despite the very large “CAUTION ADVISED” headline, and the don’t do this at home without medical supervision, I decided to test out this theory myself.

And I have very good reasons for wanting to know if this works or not. First of all, I have personally experienced severe memory loss from numerous illnesses dating back 25 years. I’ve had success with a number of techniques, but I still have grave concerns over my own personal ability to remember anything, and fears that my memory will disintegrate quickly when I get older.

Second, my father died after a long battle with Alzheimers, and Third and worse yet, my mother is showing signs of “mild cognitive impairment”. The medical term for “I keep repeating the same story 5 times in a row”.

So, both for myself and for my family I decided to test out the nicotine patch.

Here in Australia, I was able to buy over the counter a product called Nicotinell Step 3 patches with 7mg dose. I was still concerned about using it as I’ve never smoked or used any substances with nicotine, so I wasn’t too sure what side effects might appear.

This is what the website for Nicorette R says the patch will do to help smokers quit smoking: “Anxiety, cravings, increased appetite, irritability, low mood, poor concentration, restlessness.”

In the study they built up to 15 mg over a 6 month period, I was starting with a much smaller dose of 3.5mg and planned to build my way up to 15 mg dose. Full disclosure and complete and total disclaimer, I did not consult a doctor but all of the studies insist that you should see a doctor first.

So you should listen to them, unless you have cognitive impairment and can’t remember if you’ve already asked them that question. There are many potential side effects of nicotine patches if you’re a non-smoker. Among them: dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, redness or swelling at the patch site.


Ok, none of those really sounded appealing but I really wanted to test out this theory to see if the nicotine patch would improve cognition in a “relatively” normal adult.

Although I wouldn’t begin to call myself “normal”.

What I used to verify my cognitive function is an iphone app called fit brain. I had started using it to improve my brain and I thought this would be a great way to measure my actual progress.

What was strange is that I didn’t feel much different inside, but my fit brain progress was enormous when I used the patch. Occassionally, I would feel like it was too much, and stop using the patch for a day or two and I would stop making any progress points on fit brain.

Worse, the buildup of nicotine in the body was starting to leave itchy welts even though I was moving it to different parts of my body every day. So time for a breather from the experiment.
I’ve stopped using the patch now for almost 2 weeks even though I haven’t finished the whole box of patches. I’m finding the welts annoying and quite distracting from the great vigor and marked improvement in my cognitive ability.

I’m also quite annoyed with the fit brain app, as I don’t get nearly as many high scores now that I’ve stopped using the patches and I’ve been moved into the higher levels which as sooo much harder now. So I’ve stopped training my brain that way either.

I will continue experimenting with both the brain training apps and adding nicotine in controlled doses as I did have great mental improvement but didn’t like the side effects for me.

And who needs to be so smart anyway?

Maybe I should test out adding nicotine with the electric cigarettes…

Just a thought.

Don’t try any of this at home.

But if you do, I’d like to hear your results…

Please share this with others who might be interest


I was able to visit my mom in Florida and test out my theory.  But because I had found the nicotine patches annoying, I thought I would try another format and found Nicotine Mini Lozenges at the local drugstore.  My test level was 3.5 mg patches (half of the 7mg maintenance dose) so when I literally dozens of patches and lozenge types I was a bit bewildered at the store.

I settled on a quantity of 4 mg lozenge which was close to the 3.5 mg I had been taking.

I took them home to my mom’s house and popped one in my mouth and gave one to my mom.

Big mistake! I hadn’t taken into account how much slower the absorption rate is on the patches and how horrific the effect is with the sudden burst of nicotine infiltrating into the body at rapid pace through the mucous membranes of the mouth. Yuck.  awful taste and awful reaction. My mom felt shocked, sick to her stomache and unable to move.  I felt the same, but on a lesser basis as I had chewed mine and I had conditioned my body a bit while doing the test with the nicotine patches.

Lesson learned.  No more testing directly on someone without a doctor’s visit  And especially no more testing on someone else period.

I continue to take the mini lozenges at half dose daily and have found it still to have effects on my stomach, but the improvement in brain function is immediate.

I felt vindicated when I mentioned this to the college age son of a friend of mine who is studying linguistics and brain function at a very prestigious university in America and he said, yeah, nicotine helps with Alzheimers and a lot of the kids use it to study.

Apparently former smokers don’t get the nauseous rush I experience, but i’m pleased with the improved cognition.

Thanks also to Karen who I met on the plane from Australia to the US who let me know there were more protocols for nicotine therapies in addition to the patches.