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Nicotine gum: know the pros and cons of this treatment to stop smoking

Nicotine gum: know the pros and cons of this treatment to stop smoking

Nicotine chewing gum is one of the methods in Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), which replaces the substance responsible for cigarette addiction, excluding the other ones, which do bad the health. This prevents nicotine withdrawal and helps to stop smoking.

One such method is nicotine gum, which usually comes with 4 or 2 mg of nicotine per gum. Nicotine patch usually has greater adhesion than it does, but even so, it is a widely used method, especially for times of fissure.

For nicotine gum is indicated

Nicotine Replacement Therapy, which includes nicotine gum, is usually indicated for patients who have high dependence on cigarettes, when there is a history of withdrawal when the person is deprived of the smoke or if he scored more than five in a specific test called the Fagerström Test.

How nicotine chewing works

Nicotine chewing gum has a tooth from its capsule, which is released during chewing, where it is absorbed directly by the buccal mucosa or through the digestion . How to Use Nicotine Chewing Gum

Unlike ordinary chewing gum, you should chew nicotine chewing gum hard enough and when you start to taste the nicotine, place it between the gums and the side of the cheek, leaving there until the taste disappears. After 30 minutes, you can already discard the chewing gum.

Placing on the side of the mouth is important because nicotine is better absorbed there than in the rest of the digestive system, which results in the absorption of the equivalent of half the nicotine of a cigarette. In addition, when nicotine is absorbed in the stomach or intestine, much of it will be metabolized by the liver and will not reach the central nervous system, where it will act to quench abstinence.

It is important not to drink water while chewing, the nicotine is swallowed. In addition, smoking and using chewing gum in large amounts can lead to intoxication from excess nicotine in the body.

Doctors usually indicate the schemes of use of these chewing gum according to the degree of addiction. If the person smokes 20 or more cigarettes per day, the treatment will last 12 weeks, in which:

Week 1 to 4 = 4 mg gum every 1 to 2 hours

  • Week 5 to 8 = gum 2 mg to every 2 to 4 hours
  • Week 9 to 12 = 2 mg gum every 4 to 8 hours
  • If the patient smokes less than 20 cigarettes per day, the schedule is slightly different:

Week 1 to 4 = 2 mg gum every 1 to 2 hours

  • Week 5 to 8 = 2 mg gum every 2 to 4 hours
  • Week 9 to 12 = gum 2 mg every 4 to 8 hours
  • Expected results

Nicotine gum usually is most effective when used as an ally of the patch because while the latter brings constant and small amounts of nicotine throughout the day, the chewing gum would control cracking moments. For this reason, there are not many studies that evidence the success of chewing gum alone.

However, it is possible to be more successful in quitting smoking if you follow the treatment with a doctor who can assess your individual characteristics, such as degree of dependence and history, and model the treatment accordingly.

Advantages and disadvantages of the nicotine patch

Any Nicotine Replacement Therapy has the advantage of only restoring nicotine, sparing the hitherto smoker of being in contact with other harmful substances of the tobacco (like the tar, for example), but reducing the crises of abstinence, since the nicotine is reduced gradually. There is no risk of the patient being addicted to the patch or any other method of this type of therapy.

But one of the disadvantages of chewing gum is that it only brings relief for a moment, like cigarettes.

Side effects

Side effects are very rare, and when they appear, they occur because there was no medical advice or because specialist's recommendations were not heard. It can cause nausea, irritation of the mucous membrane of the mouth (including ulcers) and over-intoxication. This last risk increases if the patient continues to smoke.


Nicotine Replacement Therapies contain much smaller amounts of it and the resources used do not carry the other harmful substances of the cigarette, such as tar. Therefore, they do not carry great risks, since nicotine is more responsible for the addiction itself than for the health problems caused by smoking.

Thus, there are not many contraindications for nicotine replacement therapies, such as nicotine gum, because continuing to smoke is always worse. Some experts claim that even people with heart disease and pregnant women can make use of these resources, even though there is no evidence that this type of treatment causes problems for the health of the fetus. However, new studies have shown the relationship between nicotine and the cancer. A study published in the scientific journal PLoS One in 2013 showed that the substance can alter the expression of the genes of the cells, making the appearance of the disease more likely. These findings may change the recommended measures for this type of therapy.

Nicotine Chewing Gum Treatments

Nicotine Adhesive

Most doctors point to chewing gum as an ally of the adhesive, to be chewed on moments of greater desire to smoke, despite the use of the other resource. Thus, the patient is able to better circumvent the withdrawal syndrome, which is more hostile to those who want to stop smoking.

Bupropion When the patient is very dependent on nicotine, the doctor also recommends a drug treatment using bupropion. The medicine also reduces the urge to smoke and can be taken for up to three, but can only be bought with prescription. Who can indicate nicotine gum

Nicotine gum is found in pharmacies and can be obtained without prescription. But prefer to use them with your doctor's guidance, which will help you choose the technique that is right for you, including combining more than one treatment, according to your history and degree of dependency.


Pulmonologist Luiz Carlos Correa da Silva (CRM-RS 4414), member of the Tobacco Commission of the Brazilian Society of Pulmonology and Tisiology (SBPT) and the advisory council of the Tobacco Control Alliance (ACTBr)

Psychologist Sabrina Presman, Brazilian Association for the Study of Alcohol and Other Drugs (ABEAD)

Book? Smoking: A disease that has treatment? (Editora ArtMed), organized by pulmonologist Luiz Carlos Côrrea da Silva

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