In the UK in 1994 they did a clinical trial with the nicotine patch in patients with ulcerative colitis.
CONCLUSIONS: The addition of transdermal nicotine to conventional maintenance therapy improves symptoms in patients with ulcerative colitis.
Don't know what happened after that.
There were a couple of peer reviewed studies done on this in the UK and at Mayo in the 90s. The results were that UC patients who went through a traditional course of treatment (pred, 5-asa, etc.) and used transdermal nicotine patches had about a 50% increased rate of remission than those who used placebo patches (no nicotine). The conclusion of both studies were that nicotine patches were effective for treating UC flare ups, but did not increase the duration of the remission.
From looking at the data, I could not see where that last conclusion was supported.
Also there is increasing evidence that ONE of the contributing factors for UC is long term (one to five years) nicotine withdrawal; and that those patients who benefit from nicotine therapy are those who contract UC after stopping smoking.
Now for personal experience: During my last flare in the summer of 2009, I was very sick, and heavy course of prednisone (60 mg/day ) was not helping. After reading a thread on the subject here at HW, I went to the internet and researched the evidence, and found the above mentioned studies, and a wealth of anecdotal evidence. I consulted with my GI and PCP, and my GI said “Well there is some anecdotal evidence …” and my PCP said “Harumph, old studies”.
I decided to experiment; as I don’t tolerate the patches well, and the gum is hard on my teeth, I bought some Commit (now Nicorette) lozenges and started taking them at a low dose, 12 mg of nicotine per day. Within two days I was feeling better, but not yet in full remission. Within a week I was feeling well enough to get in a round of golf. While enjoying my game, I lost track of how many lozenges I was chewing, but it was at least double my self imposed limit. That was on a Sunday, and by Tuesday I was in full remission.
A couple of months later I discovered e-cigs, and find them much more satisfying and very much less expensive than the lozenges. I now use them almost exclusively; supplementing them with lozenges only during those times when sucking on an e-cig is not PC, like in meetings or social events. I have been in complete remission since September of last year.