Nicotine Self-Study (Day 33)

I’m a real rebel with a cause. – Nina Simone

 

 

It’s now been 33 days of nicotine replacement therapy use and 27 days off prednisone. I posted recently about the results of my 8/4 GI follow up, but to recap: they think I am close to remission and want to confirm via a sig scope in the next few months.

Since choosing to vape has been such a huge decision for me (as a former smoker), I have spent a good bit of time trying to ensure that I have made the best choice for myself. I figured I would share some key information that I found to ease my troubled conscience.

The first is a study found here:B Electronic cigarettes: review of use, content, safety, effects on smokers and potential for harm and benefit that concludes “Allowing EC to compete with cigarettes in the market-place might decrease smoking-related morbidity and mortality. Regulating EC as strictly as cigarettes, or even more strictly as some regulators propose, is not warranted on current evidence. Health professionals may consider advising smokers unable or unwilling to quit through other routes to switch to EC as a safer alternative to smoking and a possible pathway to complete cessation of nicotine use.” While I realize this study is based on assisting current smokers to quit, the findings are still positive for my purposes.

Additionally, I found this lovely article:B 9 research studies to silence the vape haters.B Here are the 9 points of interest which the article lists studies to support:

  1. Secondhand vapor is not dangerous
  2. Vaping can improve lung function for smokers
  3. Nicotine alone is not powerfully addictive
  4. E-cigarettes are not full of formaldehyde
  5. Sweet vape flavors are not aimed at children
  6. Vaping is substantially lower in toxins than smoking
  7. Vaping can help people quit smoking
  8. Vaping is not a gateway to smoking
  9. Vaping is NOT as bad as smoking

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While I feel some guilt about using nicotine to save my life treat my UC, I remind myself often that: had I been prescribed nicotine, I would not feel so poorly about it. And, when I remind myself about prescription medication that was suggested to me, I remember that I made the best choice out of those currently available. I hope to not have to make any tougher decisions down the road, but at least I know my options.

While I am here, let me shout out ECBlendFlavors.com real quick. I’ve been using their 100% VG organic vape juice. Totally affordable with a great selection and fast shipping. I just ordered 4 more flavors in a nice 5ml trial size. They have a custom flavor wizard as well. Give them some business!

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Nicotine Self-Study (Day 15)

 

The best way to predict the future is to create it. – Peter Drucker

I’m going to keep this one short as I am heading out tonight to the shore. I’ve been feeling pretty damn good in terms of symptoms. I am exactly one week off prednisone and was originally terrified as to what would happen to me once I came off.

In terms of the vaping itself, I have one minor complaint. Either from the alcohol or the high nicotine level, I have had some irritation in my mouth that caused canker sores and some swelling under my tongue. And, it’s painful. I’ve been rinsing my mouth and brushing more often and this seems to help. I did hear that this is actually common.

I thought that perhaps I’ve had a reaction to the alcohol in The Lazy Iguana and the In The Raw juices, so I tried the alcohol free e-gel. I suppose we shall see. I think my sweet spot is going to be 12mg. Unfortunately Kind Juice doesn’t currently make the e-gel in 12mg. Insert super sad face.

Know any organic, VG only, alcohol free suppliers? Comment below.

I’m continuing on my SCD journey and having fun with creating dishes that are both pretty and tasty. I feel pretty good overall – my focus at work is back, I feel more confident heading out and about, and I’ve yet to have any significant detours in my symptoms from the UC.

I think I’ll update at the 30 day mark unless something worthy of mentioning occurs. Until then…

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Nicotine Replacement Therapy for UC

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. B 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.B 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.B 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.B Click here for the full list and source.

The following serious (sometimes fatal) side effects have been reported:

  • Infections (like TB, blood infections, pneumonia)b 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
  • Psoriasis
  • 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 theB nicotine patches (I am usingB Habitrol brand):

  • AB skin rashB at the location of the patch
  • SleepB problems when using a 24-hour patch, such as havingB trouble sleepingB or having especially vividB 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

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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?!)