The compound was extracted from the seeds of a plant that grows in eastern Asia, called the “golden rain tree”. The scientists from the Center for Addiction Research in New Zealand’s Auckland University extracted the chemical compound called cytisine, and tested it as a smoking cessation medicine.
The tests made on the new compound that could help smokers quit were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The test involved 1,300 smokers who had to participate in a 25-day treatment. The team of researchers, lead by Dr. Natalie Walker, gave the compound cytosine to half of the participants, while the other half was given traditional anti-smoking products like nicotine gum and nicotine patches.
After the 25-day treatment ended, 40% of the subjects who took the cytisine compound said they did not feel the need to smoke during and after the treatment. The other half of the subjects, the ones who used nicotine patches and gum, only 31% of them were able to stop smoking.
Dr. Walker said that the new compound that could help smokers quit is more effective than other cessation techniques because cytisine replicates the sensation smokers feel during and after they smoke cigarettes.
The researcher in charge of the study said that the cytisine compound acts a lot like nicotine in the brain, thus alleviating the urge to smoke, also reducing the nicotine withdrawal syndrome. She added that the new compound that could help smokers quit could be even more effective if smokers combine it with behavioral support therapy sessions.
Walker said that cytisine, aside from the positive effects, is also cheaper than other methods used to help quit smoking. She talked about how some of the participants in the study reported having experienced temporary side effects from the cytisine. She said that three out of 10 subjects experienced side effects, compared to two out of 10 of the ones who used nicotine patches and gum. Some of the side effects included nausea, sleep disturbances and bad dreams.
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