Smoking Nicotine Vagus Nerve Immune Response

Studies show that the Vagus Nerve is key to COVID-19.

Nicotine receptors in the Vagus Nerve are central to the disease progress.

When last week (21st of April), the French study about smoking and COVID-19 was published – many became upset because its conclusions were counterintuitive to what people wanted to think.  (1. Low incidence of daily tobacco smoking in patients with symptomatic COVID-19,).   It found that active smokers had less severe symptoms than non-smokers.  COVID-19 is after all primarily a respiratory disease, so should not smoking make it worse?  The answer is both yes and no.   The first studies from China concluded that smoking is making COVID-19 worse but the data and some conclusions from China are now questioned because they seem to be partially wrong.   These studies did for instance not take into account the effect from ‘stopping smoking’ before and during the Coronavirus disease progress.   This ‘cessation’ is now believed to cause an under activation of the vagus nerve and hence the vagus nerve cholinergic anti-inflammatory system is not working as it should to prevent for instance a cytokine storm which is the main cause of death in COVID-19.  

The institute tested almost 700 teachers and pupils of a school in Crépy-en-Valois in one of the hardest-hit areas in France, as well as their families. The “highly accurate” tests found that only 7.2 per cent of smokers from among the adults tested were infected while four times as many non-smokers, some 28 per cent, were infected.

Here are some of the conclusions from the study: “Current smokers have a very much lower probability of developing symptomatic or severe SARS-COV-2 infection as compared to the general population.   We hypothesize that SARS-COV-2 might alter the control of the nicotine receptor by acetylcholine.  Nicotine administration, e.g. via the skin, may be tested as a therapy to study the protecting effect of smoking against SARS-CoV-2 infection.” 1) 

The nicotine in cigarettes keeps the nicotine receptors in the vagus nerve active – and hence these receptors which are crucial in inflammatory responses – works better and hence controls Coronavirus disease progress.  

The next day after the above study was made public, the Pasteur Institute published (22nd of April),  Dr Jaen-Pierre Changeux’s paper – A nicotinic hypothesis for COVID-19 with preventive and therapeutic implications. (2.)  This paper analysed the findings, presented an explanation hypothesis and proposed that nicotine could be an efficient treatment for Covid-19.   Professor Changeux is one of the most distinguished neuroscientists in the world, having received for instance the Albert Einstein World Award of Science in 2018. 

His conclusions “A nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR)” plays a key role in infection from the coronavirus and nicotine may act to protect this receptor from attack. It may also lessen the overreaction of the body’s immune system that has been found in the most severe cases of Covid-19 infection.”  The diminished vagus nerve activity previously described in these illnesses could be potentiated by the Covid-19 elicited nicotinic receptor dysregulation, leading to a hyperinflammatory state often reported in for instance obese patients.

To prevent hoarding, the French government on the 24th of April ordered limitations on the purchasing of nicotine patches from pharmacies.   When I visited a tobacco shop in my local French village this Monday on the 27th April – there was a long que outside and the tobacco shop owner told me that he has never had such big sales.

Neither of the studies recommends anyone to start smoking.  They suggest that nicotine in the form of patches or other forms (not smoking) should be studied in order to achieve more data on the findings and hypothesis.   

The Vagus Nerve and inflammation

Already the ancient Chinese knew that heart rate variability (HRV) is a very important indicator of disease.   Your heart rate has a variability because the Vagus nerve is working day and night to save energy, optimize oxygenation and boost or decrease immune responses.   The Vagus nerve is six miles long and it is your most important nerve because it controls the heart, lungs, stomach and intestines.  Without it you would also be in constant fight-or-flight stress mode and die.  

There are many ways to keep it active.  The best known are mediation, yoga, singing, healthy food or cold baths.   Scientists have long searched for technical solutions with for instance electrical stimulation.  Pharma companies have made a lot of pills that affect it, but since it is so complex, no simple solution has yet been found. 

Inflammation is crucial for survival, but at the same time it is one of the major causes of mortality.  This is especially the case in Coronavirus.  The production of pro-inflammatory cytokines is basically beneficial and protects the organism against infections and injury. However, excessive production of these cytokines can be more dangerous than the original infection, resulting in lethal systemic inflammation.   The leading cause of death from Coronavirus is this kind of cytokine storm. 

The cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway is a neural mechanism that is controlled by the vagus nerve and inhibits local cytokine release, thereby preventing the damaging effects of cytokine overproduction.  (Dr. Kevin J Tracey, 7)

Picture 2: Cholinergic Anti-Inflammatory Pathway

(Vagus-nerve stimulation, acetylcholine and nicotine inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines from macrophages through a ‘nicotinic anti-inflammatory pathway’ that is dependent on the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7nAChR). nAChR =  Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor Receptor polypeptides that respond to the Vagus Nerve neurotransmitter –  ‘acetylcholine’ (Ach). Vagus Nerve Nicotinic receptors also respond to drugs such as the nicotine from cigarettes, nicotine patches or other types of nicotine products.)

The Vagus.co coronavirus study

One very important part in this battle against Coronavirus is data.  Without more data and facts, we cannot know how to fight it.   There is therefore an urgent need to collect big data about the Vagus Nerve and Coronavirus.   Scientists need this data for both pre- and post-infection.   This is possible only with a large number of study participants and by using a wearable that can be used for at-home monitoring – the Vagus ECG watch.

The Vagus ECG smartwatch is the only hand-to-hand electro-cardiogram enabled consumer smartwatch with a vagus test.  It is designed for clinical trials of and mass ‘at-home’ diagnostics.   It features the unique ‘Vagus ECG Test’ which enables big data monitoring of cardiac-, respiratory and vagal immune system changes.  The aim for the study is to help scientists better understand the vagal changes during disease progress and find better at-home health monitoring parameters.   This is needed because it is so difficult for people to determine whether they need to stay at home or go to the hospital.

The Vagus.co study – ‘Coronavirus early detection and disease progress’ is headed by Professor Johan Lundin at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.   Study participants need only to do the 90 seconds ‘Vagus ECG Test’ every morning and evening.  

(More information about this study can be found at:  https://vagus.co/covid-19-study/)

Conclusions

Activation of the vagus nerve – including its nicotinic receptors – provides improved defence against inflammation.  It is a fundamental task of the vagus nerve.  This is a scientific fact proven in a multitude of scientific studies.   The researchers of the French studies concluded that: “Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (in the vagus nerve) plays a key role in infection from the Coronavirus and nicotine may act to protect this receptor from attack”.  They think that it may also lessen the overreaction of the body’s immune system which has been found in the most severe cases of Covid-19 infection.  

Nicotine helping in Coronavirus is not ‘President Trump Science’.  It is research results by the most serious scientists in France and it has the backing from other Coronavirus papers about the vagus nerve activation.  Since nicotine receptors are vagus nerve acetylcholine activation receptors, this and other papers show how Vagus nerve deactivation increases Coronavirus symptoms. 

This same vagus nerve activation model and immune system theory is also the basis for the hypothesis in the Vagus.co Coronavirus study which is presented on https://vagus.co/covid-19-study/

We definitely do not recommend anyone to start smoking but it is important to be open minded and understand that activation of the vagus nerve is very important in the battle against this horrific virus.  The natural way to do this is by yoga and meditation.   

As the French health minister expressed it last friday “We will not be shutting any doors and certainly not that one.” 

References

1.        Low incidence of daily tobacco smoking in patients with symptomatic COVID-19, Miyara, Amoura et al, Qeios April 21st 2020. https://www.qeios.com/read/WPP19W.3

2.      A nicotinic hypothesis for COVID-19 with preventive and therapeutic implications. Jean-Pierre Changeux, Qeios April 22nd 2020. https://www.qeios.com/read/FXGQSB.2

3.      The vagus nerve and the nicotinic anti-inflammatory pathway, Luis Ulloa, Nature Reviews Drugs Discovery 2005.

4.      Nicotine addiction and nicotinic receptors: lessons from genetically modified mice, Jean-Pierre Changeux, Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2010.

5. Vagal Tone Diagnostics with hand-to-hand ECG.  Gustaf Kranck, presented at BFE20, April 2019.

6.      Cytokine-specific Neurograms in the Sensory Vagus Nerve.   Bioelectron Med. 2016, Benjamin E Steinberg, Harold A Silverman, Sergio Robbiati, Manoj K Gunasekaran1, Téa Tsaava1, Emily.  Battinelli1, Andrew Stiegler4, Chad E Bouton5, Sangeeta S Chavan1,†, Kevin J Tracey1,

7. Mechanisms and Therapeutic Relevance of Neuro-immune Communication, Immunity, June, 2017 Sangeeta S. Chavan,Valentin A. Pavlov and Kevin J. Tracey

8. The vagus nerve and the inflammatory reflex—linking immunity  and metabolism. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2012 December.  Valentin A. Pavlov and Kevin J. Tracey

9.      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/04/23/smokers-four-times-less-likely-contract-covid-19-prompting-nicotine/

You can buy the Vagus watch at www.vagus.co  

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