When the battle for electronic cigarettes is over as it will be, and science can sensibly sum up the benefits of vaping, we might get to know more about nicotine. My blog yesterday offered reasons why our rapaciously envied goldmine of vaping nicotine might be beneficial for our health in more ways than just not inhaling combustible leaves. But a long comment on that post brought up an intriguing idea that the tobacco plant could offer more than just nicotine. It suggests that the nicotine we vape might be too pure and that the very old fashioned benefits of tobacco as it was used in the old days as a medication occurred because other chemicals in tandem with nicotine are what makes nicotine work. I am interested to see, in the presence of a ban on nicotine strengths being imposed on us by the European Parliament, whether making our own nicotine from real tobacco might reveal more of its healing power. It seems to me that smoking as it used to be is very different from what it is now. This last week I posted a video called "The wisdom of the Crowd " on Life on an Alien Planet ". It really is worth a watch. I have embedded it at the end of this post as it follows the topic. I am posting the comment on yesterday's blog here as it really is worth a read. Enjoy!
It is refreshing to see a vaper who doesn't malign smokers or smoking. While I agree with much of what you wrote about medicinal properties of tobacco, nicotine and pharma's major role in the rise of "scientific" antismoking, you are attributing too much therapeutic power to the single component of tobacco, nicotine.
Emphasis on nicotine is a typical one dimensional view of "active" and "inactive" or "accidental" ingredients in medicinal plants. To see the problem with such one dimensional oversimplification, consider a recent experiment on anti-inflammatory effects of nicotine vs tobacco smoke for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) described in this post: http://www.longecity.org/forum/topic/61248-the-intelligent-smoker-what-should-a-smoker-take-to-nullify-harm/#entry564686
The RA is one of those diseases which is statistically associated (on _non-randomized_ samples) with smoking, hence smoking is a risk factor for RA and doctors will urge (force) RA patients to quit smoking. It turns out that hard science, such as experiments, shows exactly how such association arises. In the above mice experiment, the mice with induced RA is randomly split into 3 groups -- the "smoking group" (inhaling tobacco smoke), pure nicotine group and untreated controls. The result is probably surprising to most people, even in this group -- the smoking group did the best, had the RA onset delayed the most and had the least damage to cartilage. The nicotine group was second and untreated group did the worst.
So, the origin of positive association between smoking and RA observed on _non-randomized_ samples in humans is result of instinctive self-medication -- those susceptible to chronic inflammation smoke more than general population since tobacco smoke provides perceptible relief and protection against RA flareups, pain and damage.
As with the above anti-inflammatory effects, there are many other medicinal effects of tobacco smoke that are not replicated by nicotine. For example, MAO B inhibition (similar to that of 'youth elixir' and nootropic, aka smart drug, selegiline or deprenyl) is due to something else in tobacco smoke.
Similarly, some component/s in tobacco smoke (not nicotine) strongly upregulates (nearly doubling each) the three main detox and antioxidant enzymes in human body - glutathione, catalase and SOD (superoxide dismutase), which are also hailed in life extension circles as youth elixirs. As with the above RA example, people exposed to environmental toxins (miners, physical laborers, truck drivers, etc) would find that smoking provides relief by virtue of near doubling of their detox rates. Hence these people smoke more than general population, as a form of instinctive self-medication.
But those toxins they are exposed to (which include heavy metals, solvents, paints, carcinogens, etc) that these enzymes help neutralize and clear out, will still cause harm in the long run, since the protection isn't perfect. Therefore, these people suffer disease caused by the toxins and carcinogens, which will be attributed by the present antismoking junk science to tobacco smoke, even though tobacco smoke is protective (via upregulation of those detox enzymes) against the very diseases it is blamed for (see item #7 at the link above, where this is shown for association of COPD with tobacco smoking).
In conclusion, while vaping is certainly useful to get around antismoking regulations and hypertaxation of smokers (at least for time being, which likely will not last very long, the way it is moving), one should keep in mind that you are comparing medicinal plant honed for over eight thousand years for medicinal properties of its smoke, tested on billions of life-long test subjects vs. one-dimensional "active" ingredient (nicotine), which has far shorter track record of use in isolated form. For example, nicotine is vasoconstrictor by itself. But full tobacco smoke contains compensating vasodilating components (including low dose Nitric Oxide plus unknown others), which limit the constriction of blood vessels and help bounce-back when you sleep. Similarly, while pure nicotine upregulates cholinergic system (acetylcholine receptors), which in turn suppresses dopaminergic system, the full tobacco smoke, via MAO B inhibition, upregulates also the compensating dopamine neurotransmitters, offsetting the imbalance from pure nicotine.
You should also recall that the same tobacco control, which you now see as lying scumbags, since they are unfairly attacking vaping, is the same tobacco control, same people and same organizations same pharma sponsoring them, which scared everyone away from tobacco smoke over previous few decades. Do you believe that previously truthful people suddenly turned into lying scum when vaping came on the scene, or is it more plausible that these same guys were the same lying scum all along?
-- part 2 --
Keep also in mind the recent history lesson from butter vs margarine flip-flop -- for decades doctors, scientists, health groups were advising everyone to stop eating artery clogging butter with its toxic saturated fats and switch to clean, pure heart saving margarine with its healthy, pure transfats. Today of course, the story is exactly opposite -- the margarine and transfats are so harmful for arteries they are being increasingly banned -- news story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2274747/At-truth-Butter-GOOD--margarine-chemical-gunk.html
How could that be? As always, to see what is going on, follow the money. The pharma came up with early broad spectrum cholesterol blockers and wanted a disease to cure, so cholesterol rich foods, especially saturated fats (butter, eggs, etc) were blamed and pharma had a fix. The chemical and oil industry (which often overlaps with pharma) had lots of junk fats that they needed to get rid of as industrial waste, preferably to someone who will pay them for it. What's better than add some coloring and flavoring to it and dump all the waste fats into arteries of stupid consumers, by convincing them that it replaces those harmful saturated fats from butter.
Coincidentally, the story flipped upside down, despite evidence all along for ineffectiveness of both, substitution of butter with margarine and general cholesterol suppression, when pharma discovered more specific cholesterol blockers, statins (by reverse engineering of medicinal red yeast rice), and suddenly there was "bad cholesterol" that needs to be blocked, and "good cholesterol" that needs to be promoted, and as luck would have it pharma had just the drugs that selectively block only the "bad" one. The old stories became inoperative and the new stories were fed to the gullible public, by doctors, media and "health" bureaucracies and organization (i.e. the sickness industry).
You may be falling for the same trick again, now with tobacco smoke tars (analogue of arteries clogging butter) vs clean pure nicotine with PG that leave no cancer causing tar (analogue of margarine & transfats).
Tobacco smoke is a far more balanced medicinal substance, harmonized and optimized with additional medicinal ingredients over millennia by huge numbers of test subjects (smokers). I mentioned few compensating or additional effects available from tobacco smoke which offset some downsides of pure nicotine (there are many more, see brief summary in item #17 at previous link).
If you check items #1,#2 #3,#6, #7, #11, #12 at the earlier link, you will see that in animal experiments, which is a hard science, tobacco smoke not only doesn't cause lung cancer and COPD, but protects against them (due in part to anti-inflammatory and detox effects of tobacco smoke). It also extends lifespan of test animals by ~20%, while keeping them thinner and sharper into the old age.
There are no comparable experiments about effects of inhalation of pure nicotine vapor + PG/VG, hence we don't know whether vaping is as beneficial as real tobacco smoke, or even that it is harmless in the long run at all. In direct comparisons of pure nicotine vs tobacco smoke, such as those RA experiments, the tobacco smoke proved more beneficial than nicotine alone. Of course, if you buy into the lies of tobacco control about 4000 toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke, then one could leap to conclusion that vaping is much healthier. But as with butter vs margarine cautionary tale, one has to take the health advice from the Sickness Industry with large dose of salt (I usually flip them upside down and do exactly the opposite). After all, their profits are in you getting and staying sick, not in you being healthy (that would be a financial disaster for them). Would you listen to advice which shell to pick in order to win from a street shell game hustler who just shuffled them? It is the same kind of incentive at work in both cases.
Note that I am not suggesting that commercial junk cigarettes, with filters and fire retardants (mandated in USA, as "Fire Safe Cigarettes") are good for you. Filters, which are result of early fear mongering campaign by tobacco control, will leave non-biodegradable fibers in your lungs which need to be coughed out, usually every morning. Light cigarettes have imbalanced the proportions of medicinal components of previously perfectly harmonized medicinal smoke from "oldfashioned" (or plain, natural) tobacco smoke. Myriad of additives, optimized to boost shelf life and cost to manufacture (such as tobacco sheets) are likely harmful as well, or at least not optimized for you but for big tobacco.
In short, the mass produced commercial cigarettes you find at gas stations and supermarkets are to real tobacco, what mass produced junk food found in those same places is to home grown natural/organic food. The former will ruin your health, the latter will keep you healthy.
The Wisdom of the Crowd Video