After much thought, I decided to try Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to supplement my current diet, medication, and holistic treatment plan. Here is how I arrived at this decision:
- I was diagnosed at the end of January 2017. In April, my symptoms worsened and my disease worsened. This was confirmed when oral mesalamine worked immediately. Sadly it only lasted 3 weeks. In May, I spiraled into another flare much like the April experience. Both times during the week of my ovulation (I am taking oral contraceptives). I ended up in the hospital for 4 days and left on 40mg prednisone tapering by 5mg each week until July 22nd.
- I’m a little worried about what will happen when the taper ends and I am trying to hold off on the biologics (Remicade) that my doctor believes I need to be on until if and when it truly is my last resort. I’m doing strict SCD and will combine it with the LEAP/MRT food sensitivity results to target and avoid foods that may be causing inflammatory reactions in my body. For now, I am avoiding nightshades and high histamine foods until I have a better idea of what is going on.
- My diet before diagnosis was one of the healthiest options in existence. I was pescetarian and following an otherwise Mediterranean style diet under the guidance of a dietitian. I barely ate any complex carbs or grains and my sugar consumption was nearly nonexistent. This tells me that something else is going on behind the scenes and I won’t be shocked if the blood work shows that I have sensitivities to many foods considered “healthy.”
- I was a smoker from the age of 14 to the age of 30. In my early 20’s I started to think I had IBS. I always said I had a weak stomach and would avoid spicy foods and other items I noticed bothered me. I took a probiotic by Jarrow Formulas called L. Plantarum and it pretty much fixed whatever issues I thought I had. So, I carried on.
- In August of 2016, I started having minor symptoms that we blamed on my heavy lifting regimen at the gym. I was told to lay off heavy, weight-bearing workouts. In December, more (scary) symptoms emerged and I could no longer accept that this was from exercising. I requested a colonoscopy. (At this appointment I told the doctor that, given my medical history and current symptoms, I believed I had IBD – specifically ulcerative colitis. He said he thought I had IBS. I disagreed, but said I hoped he’d be correct. Guess we know how that turned out).
- Research shows a positive correlation between nicotine (or cigarette use) and ulcerative colitis symptom control and even remission.
- Preliminary, uncontrolled observations employing nicotine gum, a pharmaceutical form generally poorly tolerated, yielded encouraging but inconclusive results. The introduction of trans-dermal nicotine in the market made it possible to assess the potential therapeutic role of nicotine in a more extensive way. Access the study here.
- Nicotine is not yet considered to be a carcinogen and may, in fact, have therapeutic potential as a neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory agent. Access the study here.
- Because most current smokers with UC have inactive disease, smoking may contribute to the clinical remission in these patients. Access the study here.
- Low-dose smoking resumption in refractory UC patients who are ex-smokers may ameliorate signs and symptoms of inflammation and have a safety profile that is at least comparable with long term corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and biologics. This approach represents an unconventional therapeutic intervention that seems suitable only for a specific subgroup of patients. Access the study here.
- I also stumbled upon a few personal testimonials of individuals who have attempted this somewhat successfully and others who weren’t successful. I won’t be listing those here as they are relatively easily found online.
So, what do I really have to lose by slapping on a little nicotine patch as a personal self-study for a bit? Nothing, honestly.
In fact, if it works, I get to avoid all kinds of fun and exciting side effects from taking Remicade. See list below. Click here for the full list and source.
The following serious (sometimes fatal) side effects have been reported:
- Infections (like TB, blood infections, pneumonia)—fever, tiredness, cough, flu, or warm, red or painful skin or any open sores
- Lymphoma, or any other cancers
- Skin cancer
- Heart failure
- Reactivation of HBV
- Liver injury
- Blood disorders
- Nervous system disorders
- Allergic reactions during or after the infusion
- Lupus-like syndrome
- The more common side effects are respiratory infections (that may include sinus infections and sore throat), headache, rash, coughing and stomach pain
In comparison, here are the possible side effects from the nicotine patches (I am using Habitrol brand):
- A skin rash at the location of the patch
- Sleep problems when using a 24-hour patch, such as having trouble sleeping or having especially vivid dreams
- All forms of nicotine replacement have side effects, but the types of side effects differ across NRTs
- Very few people (less than 5%) have to stop using a nicotine replacement product because of side effects
- It is possible for a person to become dependent on a nicotine replacement product, although this is rare
Eh, I’m going to take my chances for bit. I’ll be updating as I go along. Wish me luck! (Seriously, do you see those biologics side effects?!)