Biohacking Chronic Disease

Day 1283 and nAChRs

Never one to take things laying down, I started a crazy “n of 1” experiment today. My family doctor prioritizes keeping up on literature. We’d chat about anti-inflammatory research in reputable journals.

But I am on week seven of Covid symptoms simply not clearing. I’ve been coughing when under stress or exertion, my seasonal allergies exacerbated the issue, my reconditioning of my cardiovascular system wasn’t going great and I was exhausted.

At a visit with my osteopath who helps with my chronic autoimmune issues in my spine (I’ve been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis) I mentioned my ribs felt tender and constricted from Covid coughing.

She asked me if I was familiar with the research coming out about Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and Covid-19 treatments. She’s casual like that.

Now I am a child of the internet so I’m passingly familiar with Gwen’s work documenting scientific literature on nicotine but I had not ever thought I’d try it myself.

In a joking “don’t try this at home” way my osteopath said she’d seen folks use nicotine patches for a week to shorten their Covid symptoms to some success.

Now for some caveats. In any type of crazy self treatment it’s important to consider your risks and consult a professional. Don’t do anything without your doctor’s input. Every medicinal treatment has risk and side effects.

I am using going to use a 7mg slow release nicotine patch (of the type made for smoking cessation) for the next 3-5 days to see if it impacts my over-stayed their welcome Covid symptoms. I started my experiment at 9am Saturday July 6th.

I am treating this as a “kitchen table” science experiment in which I am clearly an N of 1 from which you can only take anecdotal evidence. But maybe one data point becomes many and with the network effects of social media maybe we push forward other experiments.

Here is what I know so far thanks to searches from perplexity AI but I encountered some of the papers through mutuals on Twitter, some on forums, others I’d discussed with physicians, some were just raw dogging Google Scholar.

The AI synopsis I’m sharing isn’t meant to be conclusive just to give interested parties a starting place to see why I believe this is an experiment I’m comfortable running on myself.

Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) have been proposed as potential therapeutic targets for COVID-19. Research suggests that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein may interact with nAChRs, potentially influencing the disease’s pathophysiology[1].

Nicotine and other nAChR agonists could modulate inflammation and the immune response, offering therapeutic benefits[2][3].

[1] Simulations support the interaction of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein
[2] Disorders of the Cholinergic System in COVID-19 Era—A Review of
[3] SARS-CoV-2 spike ectodomain targets α7 nicotinic acetylcholine

Given that I’m working with inflammation as my primary issue which is not modulated even without Covid, I was obviously quite curious to learn about this cholinergic system and potential for up regulation. I’d seen discussions as early as 2020 about the curious fact that smokers had experienced some protection from Covid infections.

This all clicked in my head as being testable on my own without significant risk. Gwern had significantly reduced my concern about nicotine usage where previously as a child of the drug wars I’d put smoking nicotine in basically the same category of dangers as injecting heroin. It is not.

It seems it is possible we’ve got an explanation for why smokers didn’t catch covid at the rates you’d expect and they did better with the infections. We may even have things to learn from it to improve treatments.

Nicotine agonists could potentially be used to prevent inflammation in COVID-19 patients by modulating the immune response. Nicotine, a cholinergic agonist, has been shown to inhibit the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which could help mitigate the cytokine storm associated with severe COVID-19[1][2][3].

The cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, activated by nicotine, suppresses maladaptive inflammatory responses, suggesting that nicotine or similar agonists might offer therapeutic benefits in managing COVID-19-induced inflammation[3][4][5].

Sources via PerplexityAI.
[1] Nicotine and Covid
[2] Can nicotine alleviate the dysregulated inflammation in COVID-19? L
[3] Medicinal nicotine in COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome
[4] Nicotine and the nicotinic cholinergic system in COVID‐19 – PMC
[5] Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS) and Nicotine in COVID-19

Stopping a maladaptive inflammatory response is one of my top goals. If I can test it out with a cheap over the counter substance well I’m interested.

Andre Watson the CEO of Ligandal (not an investor just a fan) an AI discovery platform for precision targeting of therapies suggested a method of action for nicotine’s effect.

Nicotine and quercetin were some of the earliest predicted compounds to reduce the binding affinity of the spike protein to ACE2 — which in turn, we described the MOA of here:
TL;DR is that reducing the affinity may increase neutralizing immune response.

I do want to reinforce that I am aware nicotine is addictive. I’ve had to take drugs that form chemical dependencies in the past. I’ve used Prednisone in the less controlled phases of my spinal condition and tittering off that steroid is a nightmare. But it can be done. It is doable with a plan, careful monitoring, and supervision.

All evidence suggests this experiment isn’t long enough for me to develop a dependency let alone an addiction. I am thankfully free from any genetic predisposition to addiction in my family.

I plan to do a B3 Niacin flush at the end which is meant to help tittering. I will also be monitoring my heart rate as Nicotine has a tendency to raise your BPM so if I don’t like what I see I’ll lower dosage or stop usage.

With all that said, let’s see if it helps me out. I’ll post because it is in my nature.