Robert H. Granger Menzies Research Institute, Hobart, Australia Medical Hypotheses (2005) 65, 1161-1164. July 2005.
Nicotine addiction leads to withdrawal symptoms in many persons who quit smoking. In addition to craving, the most commonly experienced symptoms are: depression; difficulty sleeping; irritability; frustration, or anger; anxiety; difficulty concentrating; restlessness; decreased heart rate; and increased appetite or weight gain. The severity of withdrawal symptoms are variable, and often lead to relapse. By altering the course of withdrawal symptoms it is possible to improve the changes of the quit attempt and reduce the risk of relapse.
There is strong evidence that dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter in the reward pathway in addiction. The use of nicotine replacement therapies and Zyban (sustained release bupropion hydrochloride), both of which are suspected of exploiting dopamine’s role in addiction, enhance the likelihood of long-term smoking cessation. Anecdotal reports of oxygen’s capacity to reduce both the desire for nicotine and withdrawal symptoms suggest that this may be a therapeutic possibility for those who do not experience success with more traditional cessation approaches. Oxygen may have a favorable effect on nicotine withdrawal, as it appears to alter the balance of central neurotransmitters such as dopamine.