Ulcerative Colitis and Nicotine
Effect of Nicotine on Ulcerative Colitis
A radical approach to the regulation of Ulcerative Colitis symptoms is the use of nicotine. A study presented in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes that the addition of nicotine to conventional therapy of Ulcerative Colitis improves symptoms.1 It is hypothesized that nicotine beneficially affects the mucosal lining of the colon thereby improving gut motility. However, just as differences in diets were mentioned for Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, studies for Crohn’s Disease show that nicotine actually exacerbates the condition.1 This is one more important reason to monitor the disease to ensure proper diagnosis and use effective treatments.
An episode of the hit medical TV series “House” showcased Dr. House prescribing for his patient with Inflammatory Bowel Disease “one (cigarette) twice a day, no more, no less. Studies have shown that cigarette smoking is one of the most effective ways to control inflammatory bowel.” The patient questions this by asking “Isn't it addictive and dangerous?” to which the Doctor replies, “Pretty much all the drugs I prescribe are addictive and dangerous. The difference with this one is that it's completely legal.” Witty writing aside, this treatment may be effective at calming the symptoms of some people's ulcerative colitis.
Side Effects and Warnings
#What are the precautions when taking this medicine?
• The patch may contain conducting metal. Remove patch before MRI.
• Gum chewing can cause problems with dental work.
• When you stop smoking, other medicines may be affected. Talk with healthcare provider.
• Check medicines with healthcare provider. This medicine may not mix well with other medicines.
• If you have PKU, talk with healthcare provider. Some products do contain phenylalanine.
• If pregnant and using patch, consider removal at night.
• Tell healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant.
• Tell healthcare provider if you are breast-feeding.
#What are some possible side effects of this medicine?
• Nervous and excitable.
• Nausea or vomiting. Small frequent meals, frequent mouth care, sucking hard, sugar-free candy, or chewing sugar-free gum may help.
• Jaw ache from gum.
• Inability to sleep.
• Skin irritation.
• Nasal irritation.
#Reasons to call healthcare provider immediately
• If you suspect an overdose, call your local poison control center or emergency department immediately.
• Signs of a life-threatening reaction. These include wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; fits; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat.
• Very nervous and excitable.
• Severe skin irritation.
• Any rash.
• No improvement in condition or feeling worse.
- Pullan, R.D. et al. (1994, March). Transdermal Nicotine for Active Ulcerative Colitis. The New England Journal of Medicine 330: 811-815. Retrieved on April 1, 2010 from http://nejm.highwire.org/cgi/content/full/330/12/811