Just like any other addiction, nicotine addiction is a grave health problem. It is a problem that has affected the whole world. About 35 million people in the United States alone try to quit smoking each year, but less than 7 percent are successful. Many smokers report a feel of high sensation, followed by a feeling of relaxation. It is because of these positive feelings that nicotine has been associated with plus the normal cravings make nicotine products very hard to be abandoned by those already using them. Past research has suggested that women may experience fewer nicotine cravings and may be less affected by smoking’s positive reinforcement factors when compared to men. This according to researchers is because the women have higher levels of progesterone hormone. Fluctuations in levels of the female hormones estradiol and progesterone during menstruation may play a role in determining how women are affected by nicotine. this also affects men, little known to many, men also have progesterone hormone though in lower quantities but still serving crucial suppose. In men the adrenal glands and testes also make progesterone and they work to counter the activities of hormone estrogen in men. in case of low levels of progesterone in men , they will exhibit the following symptoms; Low libido, Hair loss, Weight gain, Fatigue, Depression, Gynecomastia (“man-boobs“), Erectile dysfunction, Impotence, Bone loss and Muscle loss.
According to a study that was done to examine the effects of a controlled oral dose of progesterone on smoking behavior, nicotine withdrawal symptoms, and nicotine-related positive reinforcement factors in nicotine dependent males it was found that Higher progesterone blood levels corresponds both to reduced β2*-nAChR availability in all brain regions except the thalamus and to craving and withdrawal symptoms. These findings suggest that progesterone might promote men’s positive abstinence experiences by inhibiting β2*-nAChR availability. However, the study did not detect any direct link between men’s β2*-nAChR availability and craving or symptoms. In this study that took four days, participants were randomly assigned to receive a daily dose of 200 mg of progesterone, 400 mg of progesterone, or placebo. All participants had to abstain from smoking for Days 1 through 3. On Day 4, participants took part in a smoking session, during which their smoking habits, including the number of puffs, duration of puffs, and number of cigarettes smoked, were measured. Outcome measurements also included self-reports of cravings; carbon monoxide monitoring; and standardized questionnaires to assess nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
In other Preclinical and clinical studies have shown that progesterone modulates the reward system and responses to stimulant drugs. The majority of the preclinical work in this area however has been conducted with cocaine with results showing that progesterone, and its active metabolite allopreganolone, attenuates the rewarding effects of drugs of abuse. Animal studies have mainly focused on the ratio of estradiol to progesterone as a predictor of sensitivity to drug reward with results generally showing that when levels of estradiol are high and relatively unopposed by progesterone drug reward is heightened. Though this study was done using cocaine and not nicotine it makes sense that the balance between progesterone and estradiol is crucial in mitigating the effects of a drug and minimizing chances of a drug user to be addicted to the drug. It is therefore safe to say that it is important for the levels of progesterone in men to be at safe levels to limit effects of drugs.
Progesterone to fight nicotine Addiction
Progesterone being a hormone that is mostly dominant in women, most researchers having linked it to nicotine addiction worked mostly with women. However bearing the understanding that men also have estrogen and progesterone as well as other hormones it is evident that progesterone might have similar effects on them. As a man ages the production of hormone progesterone becomes slowed or stops, the main function of hormone progesterone in the body of a man is to check on the activities of the estrogen hormone. Estrogen dominance is a problem that not only women grapple but men also are tied to it. in few research findings that have been published, it has been found that progesterone may help men who are fighting nicotine addiction but this hormone decreases as a man grows and so to help it can be supplemented. Clinical research studies in this area have many challenges including the difficulty of conducting the study during a certain phase of the hormonal transition. In addition, men of reproductive age have multiple commitments and participation in a research study with a demanding schedule is not an easy task. Nevertheless, clinical research in this area is crucial to develop more effective treatments for nicotine addiction that will tailor to the needs of women.
Dr. Dalal Akoury of AWAREmed Health and Wellness Center has dedicated her life to helping patients restore their lives by use of integrative medicine. She also holds many conferences in which she offers training on how integrative medicine can be used to fight addiction among other conditions. Call her on (843) 213-1480 for help.