Imagine a new class of drugs that can blunt serious psychiatric disorders, repel the onset of Alzheimer’s and improve attention in ADHD-afflicted teens, as well as relieve a range of physical ailments from ulcerative colitis to chronic pain. If tests were already being done in humans, you would probably have heard about it on the evening news, right? Did I mention these compounds might help you lose weight, too?
The negative health risks of cigarette smoking are so overwhelming that its beneficial effects have been largely ignored. But as every smoker knows, lighting up can sharpen concentration and elevate mood. Over the decades, doctors have also observed that smokers have below-average rates of certain diseases, including Parkinson’s and ulcerative colitis. Psychopharmacology has demonstrated nicotine’s capacity as an all-around cognitive enhancer, increasing the brain’s learning and memory functions.