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    Cytisine contains no nicotine, but it does it does mimic its effects. It works to relieve cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking. Evidence suggests it is as effective as nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches and gum.

    How to take cytisine

    Cytisine should be taken with water. You should plan a quit date (the day of your last cigarette) no later than the fifth day of treatment. After your planned quit date, you should not smoke again as it can make the harmful effects of nicotine even worse.

    A dosing schedule can be seen below. It’s useful to set timers on your phone to remind you to take the tablets. If you forget a dose, do not double up next time. 

    100 tablets (one pack) are enough for a complete quit attempt over a 25-day period. If your quit attempt doesn’t work this time, you can resume treatment in two to three months.

    Cytisine dosing schedule:

    Cytisine dosing schedule

    1. ​​​​​​​Day 1-3: 6 tablets daily, 1 tablet every 2 hours
    2. Day 4-12: 5 tablets daily, 1 tablet every 2.5 hours
    3. Day 13-16: 4 tablets daily, 1 tablet every 3 hours
    4. Day 17-20: 3 tablets daily, 1 tablet every 5 hours
    5. Day 21-25: 2 tablets daily, 1-2 tablets a day

    How does cytisine work?

    Cytisine works by attaching to the same receptors in the brain that nicotine does. It ‘tricks’ your brain into thinking you’ve had a cigarette. This reduces urges and the withdrawal symptoms of stopping smoking. 

    How long does cytisine take to work

    The standard course of treatment is 25 days. You’re likely to notice your cravings start to reduce quite soon into your treatment journey, however, it’s important you finish a complete course.  

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      More information about cytisine

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      What are the side effects of cytisine?

      Like with all medications, there’s a risk of side effects. Some of the most common side effects include changes in appetite (usually an increase), dizziness, mood changes, high blood pressure, dry mouth, an upset stomach and sickness, sleep problems, headaches, nausea, fatigue, muscle pain, and heartburn. If you’re struggling with side effects, talk to your GP or prescriber.

      For more information on side effects, please read the patient information leaflet.

      Who can take cytisine?

      Cytisine is suitable for smokers between the ages of 18 – 65 wanting to quit. You should not take cytisine if you have liver, kidney or heart problems, or a history of stroke. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also not take cytisine.

      Women taking the pill to prevent pregnancy should also use a barrier method of contraception when taking cytisine, such as condoms (cytisine makes the pill less effective). Alternatively, talk to your doctor about switching to a highly effective (around 99%) long-acting contraceptive, such as the coil. 

      Is cytisine safe? 

      In 2011, a large trial confirmed that cytisine is a safe and effective treatment to help with stopping smoking. Since then, several other trials have confirmed its safety.  

      Does cytisine make you gain weight?

      Weight gain is a common side effect of cytisine. However, stopping smoking often causes weight gain (without treatment) as nicotine is an appetite suppressant. 

      What happens if you smoke when taking cytisine?

      You should not smoke when taking cytisine. If you smoke, you risk worsening the side effects of nicotine. Symptoms include feeling generally unwell, feeling and being sick, blurred vision, breathing problems, and convulsions. If you experience this, it’s important you get medical advice immediately. 

      Taking other medicines

      Cytisine should not be used with anti-tuberculosis drugs. You should also let us know of any other prescription medicines you are taking during your consultation.

      Reordering treatment

      100 tablets (one pack) are enough for a complete quit attempt over a 25 day period. If your quit attempt doesn't work this time, you can re-order treatment in two to three months time in your Patient Record.

      Alternative treatments

      There are many ways to quit smoking. Nicotine replacement therapy is one way and involves the use of lozenges, patches, gums, sprays and inhalers to substitute nicotine.

      Another prescription medicine to help you quit smoking is varenicline - it works in the same way as Champix.

      Counselling, hypnotherapy, acupuncture and quitting 'cold turkey' with no support are all other ways of quitting smoking.

      Find the right stop smoking treatment for you
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      • Standard delivery


        Delivered within 2-3 working days.

      • Next-day delivery


        Orders approved before 5pm Monday-Friday will arrive within 1-2 working days. Orders approved between 5pm Friday and 12pm Sunday will usually arrive on Monday or Tuesday.

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        Collect next day from 7000+ convenient ParcelShop locations, if approved before 5pm Monday-Friday. Saturday and Sunday orders, collect Monday if approved before 12pm Sunday or Tuesday if ordered after 12pm. 

      • London same-day collection


        Order before 5pm Monday-Friday to collect in pharmacy the same day. Subject to the availability of your treatment in your selected London pharmacy.

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