How Chantix® Works in the Body
Chantix® is designed to work on the body’s addictive mechanisms that lead smokers to crave nicotine. Chantix® is believed to affect brain function by mimicking the action of particular neurotransmitters, which are vital chemical “messengers” that carry information between brain cells. Chantix® is believed to mimic the action of the neurotransmitter dopamine which plays a major role in addictive behavior. Through this action, Chantix® is believed to act as a proxy or substitute for nicotine and its effects on the brain. As a result, Chantix® satisfies and, over time, quells the body’s craving for nicotine. The manufacturer of Chantix® portrays it this way:
Altering the Normal Action of Neurotransmitters
By altering the body’s normal action of the neurotransmitter dopamine, Chantix® is believed to satisfy the craving for nicotine and, over time, wean the smoker from the addictive effects of nicotine. However, the other implications and effects on the body of this disruption of the normal action of the dopamine neurotransmitter systems are not readily known or understood. It may be that that Chantix®’s mechanism of action also produces those neuropsychiatric symptoms that are the subject of the “Black Boxed” warning added to Chantix®’s labeling in 2009.
The dopamine neurotransmitter systems in the brain are also related to the body’s insulin signaling mechanisms but the nature, extent and mode of that relationship are not clearly understood. Similarly, any relationship between Chantix®’s mechanism of action and the body’s insulin signaling and/or regulatory systems is unknown.
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