Researchers have found an inexpensive naturally occurring compound called cytosine which can help those looking to quit smoking hugely in their efforts. The plant based extract, which comes from golden rain trees, has already been used as a nicotine replacement therapy in some East European countries for the last 50 years.
It is much cheaper than lozenges, nicotine gum patches or gum. The compound cytisine is found in the seeds of the golden rain tree but it is not widely available. Even in Europe where it has been used for the purpose for quite some time, it is available only in a few countries.
The extract was tested on 1,310 smokers in New Zealand and it was found that those having a cytisine pill for 25 days had a 9% higher success rate than those trying the conventional methods of giving up on nicotine addiction.
“Cytisine is one of the most affordable smoking cessation medicines available,” said lead researcher Natalie Walker.
Cytisine costs about $20 to $30 for a 25-day supply, MedPage Today reported. Nicotine replacement therapies can cost up to $685 for an 8-week supply.
“It is much cheaper than nicotine patches, gum and/or lozenges and other smoking cessation medicines,” she said. “However, currently cytisine is only sold in a number of countries in Eastern and Central Europe. It is important that cytisine become more widely accessible and available.”
It was noted the naturally occurring chemical helps by tricking the brain, which explains the higher success rate associated with its usage. It looks like nicotine to the brain, which is then unable to tell the difference between the two. This gradually reduces the urge to smoke as the brain feels it has already got its quota of nicotine. Even if this newer method is not more effective or is equally effective than the traditional methods so far, it will be able to help smokers quit at a fraction of the cost.
“The good news: It’s cheap. The bad news: It’s cheap,” said Dr. Norman Edelman, senior scientific adviser for the American Lung Association, who was not connected with the research. “You have to find someone who thinks it’s worth manufacturing, going through the approval process, marketing it and making a profit.”
However, the researchers have also pointed out that the usage of cytisine could have side effects. 30% of the recipients complained of nausea and vomiting and 28% said they got sleep disorders. The rate was much lower (only 2%) in traditional therapies for giving up on nicotine usage.