By Jonathan Roseland

I'm not a doctor, medical professional, or trained therapist. I'm a researcher and pragmatic biohacking practitioner exercising free speech to share evidence as I find it. I make no claims. Please practice skepticism and rational critical thinkingYou should consult a professional about any serious decisions that you might make about your health. Affiliate links in this article support Limitless Mindset - spend over $150 and you'll be eligible to join the Limitless Mindset Secret Society.

Supplementing Nicotine is the secret weapon of elite Biohackers like Dave Asprey and Aubrey Marcus for instant creativity, concentration, and verbal horsepower.

It's a not low-risk fast burning and highly addictive Nootropic that should be used sparingly, but for many high performers, its significant upsides are well worth its downsides.

This article is mostly going to focus on decoding what the human studies are saying about Nicotine and how this squares up with the anecdotal experiences of Biohackers online. For more of my own personal experiences, thoughts, and comparisons please see the written and video reviews in the sidebar.

The Creativity Drug

Nicotine is the original creativity drug, but don't take my word for it...

Dave Asprey also comments on its potent creativity stimulating power 

I predict that over the next few years it will become much more popular for performance and cognitive enhancement. After all, about 99 percent of the great works of literature in the last two hundred years (p > .05) were written under the influence of caffeine and nicotine, Mother Nature’s original smart drugs. (p. 282)

In the novel The D'Evil Diaries, the patron-demon of the deadly sin of sloth admits...

“Cigarettes were my greatest invention, you know. Makes people feel like they’re doing something even if they’re only lounging in an armchair.”

Mitochondrial Biohack

Head Strong bookIn this article, I quote liberally from Head Strong by Dave Asprey; this book makes the case that optimizing your Mitochondria is the ultimate performance-enhancing Biohack because your Mitochondria are the fundamental energy generation mechanism that underlies everything else. Dave's exuberant praises of Nicotine on his excellent podcast was what initially convinced me to try pharma-grade Nicotine 5 years after I successfully quit smoking. From the book: 

When you get the right amount, nicotine does a lot for you. For starters, it gives you faster, more precise motor function. People show more controlled and fluent handwriting after taking [nicotine] and they’re also able to tap their fingers faster on a keyboard without sacrificing accuracy. [Nicotine] makes you more vigilant, too. Participants who used nicotine patches were able to pay attention to a mentally tiring task longer than controls could. [Nicotine] gum had the same effect. [Nicotine] also sharpens your short-term memory: people who took nicotine better recalled a list of words they’d just read and also made fewer mistakes than people given a placebo when repeating a story word for word... Again, the boost in memory came from both patches and gum. And it has been shown that nicotine can even increase synaptic plasticity. (p. 283)

Memory Consolidation Hack

Anyone who has tried it knows that Nicotine is a powerful stimulator of short-term, working memory. This has a downstream effect of enhancing long-term memory via the consolidation mechanism.

Boundless bookBen Greenfield writes in the mindblowing chapter on Nootropics in Boundless...

Research also suggests that oral consumption of nicotine improves memory consolidation during learning by increasing the density and efficiency of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the cholinergic system, the part of the nervous system responsible for memory function. (p.157)

Cognitive Enhancer

Research has shown that while moderate doses of nicotine typically enhance cognition, high doses can inhibit cognitive performance. So when it comes to dosing nicotine, moderation and precision are key. Effective doses range from 2 to 4 mg administered over twenty to thirty minutes, a dose easily available in the form of nicotine gum or spray. (p.157)

Mechanism of Action

When nicotine reaches your brain, it binds to nicotinic receptors (guess where they got their name?), activating pathways that control attention, memory, motor function, and pleasure. (p. 283)

Vs Constipation

Interestingly, nicotine can act on very similar pathways to support acetycholine production, and some people have even experimented with nicotine patches over the lower right abdomen to stimulate peristalsis or deal with constipation. (p.509)

 Nicotine PG/VG Solution

I'm often asked...

Where can I get Nicotine to take as a creativity Nootropic?

I recommend Blue Brain Boost's pharmaceutical-grade Nicotine liquid solution

BUT they only ship to the USA. I've struggled to find a good source of Nicotine here in Europe until I figured out that it's sold at practically every vape shop! You can just walk into a vape shop and ask for a Nicotine "booster shot" in unflavored PG or VG solution - it only costs a few bucks! It's a great value compared to the overpriced Nicotine spray, gum, or lozenges.

You want to get a solution that is 5% - 7% nicotine, usually, it will be labeled as 20mg or 25mg nicotine.

Nicotine Gum?

The problem with nicotine gum is that chewing gum causes your trigeminal nerve (associated with chewing) to fire more than it should. Save your chewing for eating, and your jaw (and nervous system) will be healthier. Also, every brand of gum I’ve found has aspartame in it, often along with other questionable artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is an excitatory neurotoxin— avoid it! (p. 285)

Nicotine Spray

Nicotine spray is a more recent invention. Each spray of 1 mg of nicotine contains vanishingly small amounts of sucralose. You spray it under your tongue and feel it quickly, making it an excellent option when you want a burst of sustained energy. I’ve done more than one interview while on this, and I find it’s great for jet lag or when you have a heavy day ahead of you and want to maintain focus. (p. 286)


E-cigs (and vaping) are controversial. Some people say they’re safe, but I have real concerns about the nanoparticles of heavy metals from the e-cig combustion chambers. You don’t want to breathe that stuff in! I tried a high-end e-cig and it caused throat irritation and made me cough even after attempting to get used to it. I don’t use or recommend them, especially because they have an oral sensation like smoking that makes them more addictive. (They’re still far better than smoking or chewing tobacco, however.) (p. 285)

Is Nicotine Carcinogenic?

That's the million-dollar question, isn't it? Dave Asprey writes...

Nicotine by itself (separate from tobacco) was associated with cancer in [rats and mice]... However, the cancer link has never shown up in human studies, and a recent literature review found that there was no evidence to show that it caused cancer in humans. We do know, though, that nicotine is poisonous at high doses. You can get really sick if you overuse it. Nicotine gum, lozenges, or leftover patches could hurt or even kill a pet or a child. Store and treat all forms of nicotine with care. (p. 284)

Nicotine vs testosterone

The recent book about the metabolic paradigm of medicine by obsessive researcher Mark Sloan, explains...

The study showed that testosterone was significantly decreased in the group that received the nicotine alone. But in the group that received nicotine as well as the nitric oxide inhibitor, testosterone levels were significantly higher. In other words, elevated nitric oxide stimulated by the nicotine decreased testosterone levels. By taking a nitric oxide inhibitor in addition to the nicotine, testosterone levels were maintained. [22]

Nicotine causes... brain damage?

Researching Mitochondrial targetting antioxidants I came across the finding of a newer American study that found... 

Nicotine may contribute to the pathogenesis of cerebrovascular disease via the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Overproduction of ROS leads to brain damage by intensifying post-ischemic inflammation.

But the animal subjects prone to stroke were given giant doses of Nicotine, 2 milligrams per kilo per day. I supplement maybe 10 milligrams of Nicotine myself on days that I'm using Nicotine and I weigh a lot more kilos than a rat does! But it's all the more reason to be disciplined about healthy habits that counteract ROS buildup if you're using Nicotine, also a good reason to supplement Mitochondrial antioxidants like CoQ10 - an especially good idea for smokers who are consuming way more Nicotine daily! Or better they could just quit.

Risk Grade: C

I categorize Nicotine as a not low-risk Biohack, which is why first of all I urge moderation in usage and dosage. Don't use it every day and be disciplined about taking small doses as opposed to increasing the dose over time to account for its tolerance curve.

Some of the meta-analysis papers done on Nicotine itself hint at cancer risk; which is why I would NOT recommend it for people at high risk for cancer, so people who are...

  • In remission from cancer
  • Obese
  • Elderly
  • Smokers
  • Or those who have a bad diet

I offset my cancer risk with these habits

  • Fasting - I employ three different fasting strategies; an intermittent daily fast, a 24 hour fast about once a month, and a multiple-day fast a couple of times a year.
  • Exercise - weight lifting and cardio
  • Drinking A LOT of green tea
  • Supplementing Vitamin D
  • Drinking quality coffee
  • Eating high-quality organic food
  • Proper stress management with a mindfulness practice

If you don't do these things, your cancer risk is higher and maybe you shouldn't use Nicotine.

Usage & Dosage

If you do decide to try nicotine, treat it carefully. A safe bet would be to take it on an ad hoc basis. Use it if you want to be extra-sharp for a big presentation or a three-hour meeting, but don’t use it daily. (p. 286)


Caffeine and Nicotine are an awesome combination (as any smoker will tell you.) 

To enhance physical performance, consume 100 mg or more of caffeine and 2.5 mg or more of nicotine. (p.175)

 According to Powdercity Modafinil has a synergistic effect with nicotine: 

Here’s what one researcher has to say about nicotine:
“To my knowledge, nicotine is the most reliable cognitive enhancer that we currently have, bizarrely,” said Jennifer Rusted, professor of experimental psychology at Sussex University in Britain when we spoke. “The cognitive-enhancing effects of nicotine in a normal population are more robust than you get with any other agent. With Provigil, for instance, the evidence for cognitive benefits is nowhere near as strong as it is for nicotine.”

Why does nicotine work so well? It’s a potent nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist. Nicotinic acetylcholine activation suppresses GABAergic inputs to dopaminergic neurons, which elicits dopamine release in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Nicotine decreases the risk of parkinson’s disease, markedly improves working memory, and is underutilized due to its association with tobacco smoking.

If you want to try stacking nicotine with modafinil, start with the lowest possible doses, e.g., 1mg nicotine plus 50mg modafinil. Note that nicotine has a very narrow therapeutic range. Slapping fifteen nicotine patches on your back is a bizarrely popular suicide method precisely because it’s so lethal in overdose. As far as nootropics go, nicotine is probably the most dangerous if you’re not careful.


Nootropic Ingredients


It's sold at practically every vape shop!
Nicotine Gum

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