Quit Smoking with Galantamine?

Q I quit smoking several weeks ago, having been a one-every-few-days smoker for years. I quit because, after starting on galantamine as a supplement (for general mental bolstering and enhancement, as I tend to work long hours through the night), I found that when I smoked a cigarette, I experienced an intense reaction similar to that from the first cigarette I smoked as a kid. I felt like I was getting sick, becoming dizzy and nauseated, with increased sweating. I think I’ll pass on the next cigarette offered.

Do you think galantamine could be the helpful cause of this effect? As you know, part of quitting any bad habit is convincing yourself you’re on the right track. So if galantamine is helpful in transitioning to being a nonsmoker, others might use it in this regard.

Is this effect possible, or am I attributing it improperly? I am in good health, exercise moderately, and take a range of supplements for preventive health, since I don’t have any insurance. I’m 45 and I feel great.

Dr. Dave, College Park, MD

A A recent study investigated the use of galantamine in patients with schizophrenia, a group for whom the rate of cigarette smoking is much higher than in the general population.1 While the results are not clear, the author believes that galantamine may be helpful in improving smoking behavior. Because it operates on the same receptors that are affected by nicotine, galantamine may yet be found to serve as a nicotine replacement therapy.

Preliminary findings show that galantamine therapy reduces agitation and improves social and hygienic habits, such as remembering to brush one’s teeth. The author concluded that there is hope for establishing a therapeutic use for galantamine in patients with refractory schizophrenia.

  1. McEvoy JP. Galantamine’s effect on smoking in schizophrenics. Program and abstracts of the XII World Congress of Psychiatry, August 24-29, 2002, Yokohama, Japan. Abstract PO-74-10.

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