Cytisine May be Used in Smoking Cessation

by Jenny Novac on December 29, 2014

Golden Rain Tree

Latest issue of New England Journal of Medicine published a study which found that an extract from golden rain tree growing in Central and Eastern Europe may help smokers quit.

Scientists found that this extract contains a substance called  cytisine that is similar to nicotine, and in large amounts it may be as toxic. The substance may be used to substitute nicotine in smoking cessation.

The advantage of  cytisine compared to nicotine is that it is cheaper and more effective. Therefore, to quit smoking for good smokers may use it instead of nicotine replacement patches and gums.

What cytisine is? It is an alkaloid obtained from plants in the Leguminosae family, and is normally found in the seeds of the golden rain tree, better known as Cytisus Laburnum. People in Eastern Europe used it as a substitute for tobacco because it stimulates same receptors in the brain that nicotine does.

In the study, made by researchers in New Zealand, participated 1,310 smokers who were trying to quit their habit. One group of them were given cytisine in form of tablets for 25 days. The second group used nicotine replacement therapy in form of gums and patches for 2 months.

Scientists found that smokers taking cytisine were much more successful in quitting than those on nicotine replacement therapy. After 6 months, 143 of the 655 participants using cytisine were still keeping from smoking while 100 of 655 in the NRT group had remained tobacco-free.

The results do sound quite optimistic. However, scientists say that it is too early to talk about a success, because there were found some mild side effects such as vomiting, nausea and sleeping disorders. However, scientists say that they are less serious in comparison with long-term health problems caused by smoking.

The important characterisitic of cytosine is that it is cheaper than nicotine replacement therapy. For a 25-day period it costed only $20 while NRT costed from $100 to $700 for two months of treatment.

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