You’ve heard of non-alcoholic beverages that contain green tea or infusions of other herbs, vitamins and minerals to give you a health boost—bottled products like “energy water” or “vitamin water.” But, have you heard of nicotine water? Bottled water laced with nicotine may seem like a strange idea, but for a while there, it was being touted as the next big thing. Organic nicotine water was, in fact, found to have some health benefits, so this surprising product may deserve a second look.
The Big Idea behind Nicotine Water
Are you trying to quit smoking but can’t seem to manage without that dose of nicotine? Imagine if there were a way to get the nicotine—and the little boost it provides—without the harmful toxins you get when you smoke it in a cigarette. How can nicotine water be healthier for you than lighting up a cigarette? In fact, nicotine on its own—while it is addictive—is not necessarily bad for you. The reason smoking tobacco causes cancer and other health issues is because there are many chemicals and other ingredients added to cigarettes—and it’s the other added ingredients that are toxic and carcinogenic. Therefore, the logic is that if you could ingest the nicotine without other harmful additives that might be a good thing.
A Short History of Nicotine Water
Back in 2002, a company called QT5, Inc. (Quick Test Five) was promoting “NicoWater,” its bottled water supplement that was created to provide a pleasant-tasting, healthier, alternative source of nicotine for people who wanted to give up smoking. At that time, many restaurants and airlines had gone smoke-free, so this product made perfect sense for people who craved a smoke after dinner or were having serious nicotine withdrawals during long flights.
One 16-ounce bottle of NicoWater contained about four milligrams of nicotine, which was roughly equivalent to the nicotine found in two cigarettes or a stick of nicotine chewing gum. So, where can you get NicoWater? You can’t. NicoWater never hit the market in 2002 as planned because it was deemed illegal by the Food and Drug Association (FDA). After opponents argued that NicoWater contained an addictive substance and would, therefore, pose a potential hazard to children who got hold of it and drank it, the FDA cracked down. The FDA had also cracked down on makers of nicotine lollipops and nicotine lip balm.
How did the FDA win the legal battle? Apparently, although nicotine is legally sold over-the-counter in FDA-approved products like patches and similar products that aid in smoking cessation, federal law prohibits it also being sold as a dietary supplement, which is how QT5, Inc. was promoting it.
How Scientific Research Led to Nicotine Water
Nicotine on its own has been studied for its potential health benefits. And, Quick Test Five was not the first company that has looked into the possibility of creating healthful nicotine-laced consumer products. Different companies have conducted research studies that found several potential health benefits of nicotine, including:
Nicotine gives your brain a boost: Nicotine has been found to boost memory and heighten alertness. This may explain why smokers who smoke before an exam or a meeting garner better results than smokers who don’t. Some researchers have also looked into the possibility that the focus-boosting properties of nicotine can help people with attention deficit disorders, as well as those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Nicotine makes you feel good: Nicotine has been found to activate certain brain receptors that trigger the release of the neuro-transmitter dopamine, a chemical that contributes to a sense of reward and pleasure.
Research into the health benefits (and possible hazards) of nicotine is ongoing, and may lead to other nicotine-containing products in the future. For now, if you are looking for a safe way to quit smoking, speak with your doctor about some of the smoking cessation aids that are currently available on the market, and which one may be right for you.