Letters from the SCD support group: concerning smoking & nicotine

Published articles on the subject are placed under "Articles"

Re: smoking
Sat, 10 May 1997 4:29:12 GMT

My brother sent me an article (I'm not sure of the magazine) about a study that
was written up in Annals of Internal Medicine. It discusses nicotine "soothed
symptoms of ulcerative colitis". In the study the patients wore a nicotine
The article states:
"The patch releases enough nicotine into the bloodstream to curb colitis woes,
like severe diarrhea, by increasing the digestive mucus that lines and protects
the colon"
"Study author William Sandborn, associate professor at the Mayo Clinic, say he
believes patients will likely need a maintenance dose of he patch for one to two
It doesn't state what happens after two years on the patch. Are you cured? In
remission? Can you get addicted to the patch?
I am not recommending it, but I have been in your situation and wanted to pass
this on.

Take care,

Re: smoking
Sat, 10 May 1997 19:35:21 GMT

Just wanted to mention a few things about smoking and IBD.
First of all, it seems to be beneficial to people with UC and detrimental to
people with Crohn's disease.
It seems to be the nicotine that is responisble for it's effects. And many
studies have been done with the nicotine patch. I don't think any doctor
would ever want to recommend smoking as a treatment to other diseases.
Also, I have heard that they are developing an enema that contains nicotine
as an alternative to the patch as it would have even fewer side effects.

Take care,
Tina (Ontario, Canada)

Re: smoking
Sun, 11 May 1997 13:35:33 GMT

Matt, Roger and others,

In October 1996, Dr. Cecilla Benoni from Sweden published the results of a scientific research in Sweden stating that "the more smoke, the greater risk for Crohns" - smoking increases the risk of relapse and flare for Crohns, whereas it can have a positive effect for Colitis.
She emphasizes, though, that even if you have Colitis, smoking is NOT healthy. (It is better to use nicotine plasters.)
Generally, smokers get to the point where they need an operation earlier than nonsmokers.

Concerning nicotine, also check the articles at
(and http://www.inform.dk/djembe/scd/scd026.html)


Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 09:17:06 GMT
From: pete@yellowman.demon.co.uk
To: SCD-list@longisland.com
Subject: Smoking, again

Hi, folks

I apologise in advance for asking questions that have probably been asked a thousand times before, but....

I've just stopped smoking for the 3rd time in 7 years (on the previous two occasions I started again a couple of years later).

I am now convinced of the link between smoking and the bowel problems and other symptoms I have got (joint pains, sore eyes, tendon problems, etc), because after 3 weeks without cigarettes, the symptoms, which almost disappeared while I was smoking, are back. This has happened each time I have given up in the past.

I was re-reading the Gottschall diet book, and in chapter 2 there is a quote from a bloke by the name of Dr. Heaton, who says

    "The connection between Crohns disease and a sugar-rich diet =09 is proved beyond reasonable doubt. Apart from smoking, this is the strongest clue to an environmental etiology of the=20 disease."

Is there any reason to suppose that gut problems set off by smoking are any less treatable with the diet than ones which were set off by eating too much sugar?

Has anybody else had the same sort of problems after stopping smoking?

Have you managed to solve them?

Why should cigarettes cause problems with the gut bacteria balance?

Thanks in advance for any replies.


Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 06:39:30 -0500
From: Rachel Turet <rachel@longisland.com>
To: SCD-list@longisland.com
Subject: Re: Smoking, again

Dear Pete,
Lots of people on this list dont smoke & have never smoked and have this disease. Some of them get touchy to read about smoking being in any way advocated here and I don't blame them. The facts about nicotine are in. Its dangerous!
Having said that, my experiences have been exactly like yours. After being in total remission on the diet for over two & 1/2 years, I quit smoking, and within 3 weeks began bleeding. I went back to smoking and stopped bleeding. Pretty awful right? I've done a lot of online research into the matter & have spoken to Elaine at length on the subject. I sent her a load of data I'd downloaded on nicotine and she did find one interesting link.
One of the articles I sent her described the affects of nicotine in sending messages to the brain. It slows down certain impulses. Well, it seems that when her daughter was put on the diet, Dr. Haas had her take a small amount of something called atropine sulfate. At the time this was available over the counter which it no longer is. It seems that today it is only used in certain surgical procedures (mostly dental) to slow down the bleeding. Elaine said that the information I sent her on nicotine was identical to the description on the affects of this drug. She said she's tried over the years to find out more about the drug and how to obtain it, but with no success. I dont know how we can go about finding out more, I'm certainly no scientist, but it would seem worth investigating.
The other thing I want to tell you is that when I stopped smoking, I went on the patch. It wasn't till I stopped the patch that the bleeding started. When I tried to go back on the patch, it seemed as though it was too late, the bleeding wouldn't stop. When and if I ever get the courage to try again, I will reamin on a small dosage nicotine patch over the long haul. I know someone that has done this and it has worked for them.
I was going to write this letter to you privately, but decided to send it to the group in case someone has any ideas about how to track down more info on this atropine sulfate. Lots of luck.

Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 16:54:38 -0400
From: Rachel Turet <rachel@longisland.com>
To: SCD-list@longisland.com
Subject: Re: acupuncture/relapse/bleeding

Dear Paula,
I was bleeding when I began the diet. I stopped almost immediately. I was
still on azulphadine & remained so for about another year & 3 months. In
the beginning I had short (one day) relapses occasionally, but they stopped
altogether after a few months, and I had no blood for about 2 and a half
years until I stopped smoking last Nov. at which time I began bleeding
profusely and didn't stop til I went back to smoking (4-6 weeks?). So I am
currently a non-med taking, smoking, SCD, bowel healthy, arthritic. BTW I
am planning to stop smoking again soon, but this time, I will not go off
the patch for a long time, maybe never.

Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 23:00:16 +0000
From: Matthew Cirillo <mcirill@emory.edu>
To: SCD-list@longisland.com
Subject: Nicotine and colitis

After 2 years on the diet, I decided to reintroduce certain foods -
rice, corn (in the form of tortilla chips) and, well, beer. I also had
been smoking at the time. Well, I held up pretty well, and perhaps
overdid it, and my symptoms started returning, to the point where I was
100% fanatically adhered to the diet, and getting scoped and doped by my
gasto (by doped I mean a prescription to prednisone, and one for asacol,
which I ignore, as I'm convinced it makes me bleed). In less than a
month, I was virtually symptom free. Then I decided to quit smoking. A
week later, my symptoms started creeping back, even while on the diet
and 10mg of prednisone per day, and now, a month later, I find myself
bleeding alot, frequent trips to the bathroom, waking up at night to
go... I really have no desire to smoke. Although I enjoyed it, I feel
that it is out of my system, in terms of craving. However, as the link
below seems to concur, it seems to me that there is a correlation
between remission and nicotine (or maybe it's the tar). I've done this
before (smoke to see if it alleviates my symptoms), and even posted the
results to this list. At that time, It seemed that the smoking was
keeping me in remission. Now I even wonder if it was the smoking all
along, moreso than the diet, that was keeping me in a more remissive
state. (oooh, sacriledge!)

I'm pretty confused, as I don't wan't colon cancer, but lung cancer is
worse I guess. I don't know which has a higher probability of
occurring. I've upped my prednisone to 25mg per day (starting today) to
try to control this flare. If I don't get into remmission soon, I'll
probably experiment with the nicotine again. Me, the perinneal
guinneapig! This link (below) refers to transdermal (patches) nicotine
and it's effects on colitis patients. Patches are pretty expensive,
much more than cigarettes (disclaimer - I don't live in Canada!), but
alot less damaging to one's health, I suspect. But for experiment's
sake, I guess either one would do. I'll keep you posted! If anyone has
any advice and/or experiences on this, I'd love to hear about it.


Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 23:19:11 -0400
From: Deborah Idol <cat@cloud9.net>
To: SCD-list@longisland.com
Subject: Re: Nicotine and colitis

Hi Matthew,

> it seems to me that there is a correlation
> between remission and nicotine (or maybe it's the tar). I've done this
> before (smoke to see if it alleviates my symptoms), and even posted the
> results to this list. At that time, It seemed that the smoking was
> keeping me in remission.

It's the nicotine, and there *is* a definite correlation between remission
and smoking.

> I'm pretty confused, as I don't wan't colon cancer, but lung cancer
> any advice and/or experiences on this, I'd love to hear about it.

However, it's not just a choice between lung cancer and colon cancer, but a
choice between premature death from many causes, including multiple types of
cancers, heart disease, emphysema, years of such poor quality of life that
death looks desirable, possibly; and staying smoke free.I wouldn't go back
to smoking, or even try the nicotine patch (nicotine, which is a poison even
when it's not inhaled, can promote heart disease), in an effort to go into
remission, but would instead, look at alternatives. Check with a doctor who
specializes in parasites, to see if you have little critters living in you
who are keeping your gut from healing. Try going to a nutritionally
oriented doctor and taking high doses of B complex and folic acid (really
high doses of folic acid can be critical), perhaps even injections of B
complex if you can't absorb the vitamins from pills, yet. Sometimes, the
nutritional deficiencies from poor absorption will prevent healing until
they are taken care of. And prednisone will create deficiencies in folic
acid, among other things (for instance it will also wreck your
potassium/sodium balance, making you deficient in potassium). Prednisone
can also promote candida overgrowth, which will also cause gut problems, so
taking care of candida (with anti candida medicines and supplements, plus
diet) can also help.

Good luck, and congratulations on quitting smoking!


Date: Tue, 25 Aug 1998 23:18:00 -0500
From: Jackie Stevenson <scarlet2@ix.netcom.com>
To: SCD-list@longisland.com
Subject: Re: Nicotine and colitis


I'm back....I see I missed a great peanut-cashew-bean-nut debate!  :)
Actually, it was the cashews that caused my flare, I think I am almost over it, though. I had too much mail waiting for me to read, so if I have missed answering anyone, I'm sorry! :) Anyway, I just had to respond in regards to the nicotine. Quitting smoking was one of the things that caused me to get Crohn's! I was fine until I decided to quit smoking, my mother just recently passed away from breast cancer, (April 25th), cancer runs strongly in my family. When my mother was first diagnosed with cancer, I decided to quit smoking. A month later, I was in the hospital.
A few months and many tests later, I found out I had Crohn's. I will never go back to smoking, though. The harmful effects of it far outweigh any benefit it may have for IBD. My Grandfather smoked, and he died of cancer. My mother smoked, and she died from its harmful effects.
She had malignant cancer that was starting to spread throughout her body. But she also had congestive heart failure, emphysema, and bronchial pneumonia, most of which was caused by smoking and the drugs she had to take for her reumatoid arthritis. Her RA also contributed to her death. But IBD, like cancer, is somewhat of an autoimune type disease, and I really think there is a direct link to smoking. My advice to anyone would be NOT to smoke! Second hand smoke is almost more harmful than smoking, so if you smoke, you are hurting your family members by doing so. Sorry to preach about smoking, and I am one to talk, I smoked for many years, but now how I wish I had never started. I have been smoke free since February of of '97, and I never plan on ever smoking again. After going through horrible withdrawel, I would never even consider the nicotine patch. I STILL crave a cigarette sometimes!
That is my two cents on smoking!  :)

Date: Wed, 02 Sep 1998 11:01:18 -0400
From: ruth <callahan@webspan.net>
To: SCD-list@longisland.com
Subject: Re: Ruth - bleeding and scd

I tried wearing a Nicotine patch for six months during some of my worst flares.
Did nothing but make me light headed.
If it's out there I've tried it in changing the course of my Colitis. I even
eatten purified clay three times a day on the advice of the Chinese herbalist. :
I used to have Time, Money and faith in miracle cures.


Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 09:46:09 -0500
From: Matthew Cirillo <mcirill@emory.edu>
To: SCD-list@longisland.com, mcirill@emory.edu
Subject: Health irony (off-topic?)

This may shock, annoy, disturb or amuse. If you are very opposed to
smoking, skip it.

A while back, I emailed the list to say that I had started smoking, and
intended to post the results to the list. Well, my colitis symptoms
dramatically decreased. I wasn't taking any meds at the time. I had
been on the diet faithully for 2 years, and all the swelling, mucus and
urgency (well, most of it) had subsided by avoiding any complex
carbohydrates. However, I never totally got rid of the bleeding, or
funny-stools syndrome. Satisfied that this was the maximum level of
remission I was going to derive from the diet, I started introducing
corn meal and rice. Neither affected me. Things seemed quite nice, as
my stools were bulking up from the added rice and corn, I didn't
experience any increase in symptoms...until I quit smoking. That was
late August. Within 2 or 3 weeks, my bleeding and urgency started up
again. It did not occur to me, I did not make the connection between
quiting smoking and my symptoms reccuring. Odd coincidence. I
immediately went back on the diet with "fanatical adherance." This
wasn't enough, (obviously, since the diet takes a while, and even Elaine
recommends medication at the advice of one's doctor) so I went to my
doctor, for some prednisone and asacol. After a couple of weeks without
any significant improvement, I decided to try smoking again. Wouldn't
you know, within a week my symptoms were virtually gone. Now they are
completely gone. In almost 3 years I have never attained this level of
remmission. I actually had pizza for dinner on Sunday, and corn chips
with a roll with my lunch yesterday, and for diner last night, has a
chicken stir fry with rice. I even ate a nibbel off of a Toblerone bar
(first in 2 1/2 years!) The only noticeable difference was that my stool
was as normal as I can ever remember it being. No blood or urgency
(amazing what turns us on these days). I think FOR ME (I'm NOT
advocating smoking for anyone) what works is to adhere to the diet for
most of my meals to avoid overdosing on complex carbos, take the asacol,
(which I believe is helping as I never attained this level of remission
before when I was smoking without taking the drugs while adhering to the
diet 100%), and smoke between 5 and 7 cigarettes each day. I don't
think this would work if I were to revert to a normal American
fast-food, junkified diet. Or stop smoking. I prided myself when I was
on the diet, without any meds and dramatically reduced symptoms.
However, now I am eating stuff I've avoided for years, taking pills and
smoking. I'm not trying to start a long thread of messages here,
pro-con smoking. If you have any questions about my experience, you can
Email me directly at mcirill@emory.edu to help keep this list specific
to the SCD as it should be. This is the last time I will post anyting
here that mentions anything that isn't part of the diet, which I
wholeheartedly support, which continues to do wonders for me. (I'm
having tuna on almond brad for lunch, ate an apple for
breakfast...etc... (But I will snack on tortilla chips this afternoon).

Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 17:22:42 -0800
From: mpetee <mpetee@nas.com>
To: SCD-list@longisland.com
Subject: Re: Health irony (off-topic?)

Good for you glad to hear it. I dont advocate smoking, but its funny how
some would consider canibus for pain control on UC or CD and see it as a
different issue...go figure. I would even consider prenisone a worse health
danger than smoking: and if i had to chose i would pick smoking, but
unfortunately I have CD and smoking actually agravates CD unlike UC.

Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 07:08:34 -0800
From: "Ben Montag" <bmontag@roadrunnersports.com>
To: SCD-list@longisland.com
Subject: Re: Health irony (off-topic?)

When I started the diet I also bought a box of nicorette gum. I chewed one
piece every morning. 4mg nicotine. It's common medical knowledge that
nicotine masks (they use the word "mask" for some reason) the symptoms of
UC, but makes Crohns much worse. I wanted to get up an 8mg habit, but the
effects of nicotine were exactly that of smoking, and being a nonsmoker I
couldn't form a habit. I credit the nicotine with ending my sense of urgency
and letting me stay at my desk during the work day. That helped the diet get
a foothold and I assume begin the healing process. My box of nicorette has
since run out and I don't have $50 for a new box. I'm healthier now, but
with the nicotine I'd probably have to leave my desk a little less

Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 09:44:02 -0600
From: porter@sprint.ca
To: <SCD-list@longisland.com>, <mcirill@emory.edu>
Subject: smoking vs. SCD

I don't think you should use smoking as an excuse to eat non-SCD foods,
but as a way to control your symptoms while you follow the diet and your
body continues to heal over the months and years that you are on it. I
know from experience that one snack every few days turns into one snack
per day and then it's every meal you re eating something non-SCD
specific. My husband went off the diet during his remission, and
eventually he got sick again. It took a while, but he has not had this
illness for very long.

Some people's full remission of the disease take longer than the one
year on the diet. This could be due to several factors--meds, how long
you have been ill or how ill you are, how "fanatical" you followed the
diet, including hidden di/polysacharrides, etc. Perhaps to stick with
the diet for an additional year would bring you even more relief than
you felt when you decidedly went off the diet.

If you started eating corn and rice before your problem was healed, then
the healing is not complete and the smoking is just "masking" the
symptoms. This could make you very sick in the future! And your body
may eventually give out and you could find yourself worse than ever,
smoking or not.

From my husband's experience, corn and rice are the two hardest things
for him to process.

I am also wonderiing if you think the SCD means avoiding all
complex-carbs, vs. di and polysacharrides. Perhaps you wrote that for
the sake of expediency but it is very inaccurate, as far as the SCD


A while back, I emailed the list to say that I had started smoking, and
intended to post the results to the list. Well, my colitis symptoms
dramatically decreased. I wasn't taking any meds at the time. I had
been on the diet faithully for 2 years, and all the swelling, mucus and
urgency (well, most of it) had subsided by avoiding any complex
carbohydrates. However, I never totally got rid of the bleeding, or
funny-stools syndrome. Satisfied that this was the maximum level of
remission I was going to derive from the diet, I started introducing
corn meal and rice. Neither affected me.

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