It is a curious fact that a high percentage of schizophrenics smoke cigarettes to alleviate their symptoms. And though researchers believe that cigarettes are a poor fix, causing more long-term harm than short-term help, research is being done to investigate other compounds that could bind to the same receptors in the brain.
One hypothesis about nicotine use is that it enhances the focus of the brain and its ability to filter out unwanted external stimuli. Scientists are conducting such research in the hopes of finding specialized treatments for particular symptoms of schizophrenia.
What is especially curious is the way in which schizophrenics and shamans alike seem to use nicotine as an ally. Both deal with voices, spirits, and visions. And while it may be naïve to draw too many fast comparisons between shamans and schizophrenics, could the use of tobacco as a control mechanism for spirits factor into the research that is being done?