Could tonsillitis be cured by vaping?

It’s well-known that smokers can live much healthier lives by quitting and vaping instead, but according to some scientists, vaping may be able to help non-smokers too. There is speculation that vaping could cure tonsillitis.

Joanna Astrid Miler and Peter Hajek have released a new paper, documenting the story of a woman who found, by pure luck, that vaping eased the symptoms of her tonsillitis, a condition that has blighted her since childhood.

Miler and Hajek are names with a reputation in the smoking and vaping. The former is a psychologist and researcher at Glasgow’s Centre for Substance Abuse Research. Meanwhile, Hajek is a professor of clinical psychology and works in the United Kingdom, at Queen Mary University London’s Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, as director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit.

Hajek also worked on an essential report by Public Health England, published in 2015, titled, E-cigarettes: an evidence update.” The document declared vaping 95 percent safer than smoking, in a historic breakthrough for the vaping industry.

Therefore, when Hajek and Miler make such a claim about vaping possibly being a treatment for tonsillitis, it’s worth paying attention to.

The story

Hajek and Miler were trawling through reports from a vaping survey, when they stumbled across the peculiar story of a 26-year-old woman, known by her initials as “LM”. A non-smoker, LM has been afflicted with tonsillitis on and off since the age of 7. For the past nine years, LM has also suffered with recurrent tonsilloliths.

An inflammation of the tonsils, tonsillitis is most often caused by a virus, however bacteria can also be responsible. Difficulty swallowing, a sore throat, enlarged lymph nodes and swollen tonsils are common tonsillitis symptoms. When trapped debris calcifies and hardens in the creases of the tonsils, tonsilloliths, or “tonsil stones” can occur.

LM says that the symptoms would be apparent for around seven days in each month, and that she was on a prescription of antibiotics as a child. She was warned off tonsillectomy by ENT specialists, and even now, the best her GP can recommend is to wait until the infections clear on their own. LM practically gave up looking for a medical solution, putting up with recurrent symptoms every few weeks.

However, by chance she started to vape, and after eight months of doing so, LM has not had a single bout of tonsillitis symptoms.

LM happened across vaping after her partner gave up smoking and swiched to e-cigarettes, consuming nicotine e-liquid doses of 0-3mg/mL. When her partner purchased a new e-cigarette, LM was left with his old one and having experimented with it previously, began using it more often. The results are nothing short of remarkable.

Now, LM can go for long periods without vaping and not feel any discomfort. She thinks that vaping reduced her urge to fidget and snack on sweets and chocolate regularly during the day. LM finds the wide variety of sweet and fruity flavors pleasant, and loves to vape with her partner.

It was after about three months of periodical vaping that LM started to notice some significant changes. She stopped experiencing a sore throat in the mornings, and she no longer needed to cough of phlegm. Over the following months, these improvements have become even more pronounced.

In eight months of vaping, her tonsillitis sympyoms have remained at bay, and LM’s tonsilloliths are not causing as much trouble either. Moreover, she hasn’t suffered from any respiratory infections or common colds. While LM cannot pinpoint exactly why these amazing changes have happened, she definitely isn’t complaining.

There are plenty of anecdotal stories from vapers about how quitting smoking and starting vaping has improved their health – given how unhealthy and dangerous smoking is, this isn’t really a surprise. However, these anecdotes aren’t rooted in science and, on the surface, would seem to have more to do with stopping smoking than beginning to vape.

However, unlike most pro-vaping stories, LM comes from a unique background – she doesn’t smoke. Therefore, her unusual story is worth telling in a scientific journal.

Miler and Hajek write that smoking “increases susceptibility to respiratory infections,” therefore any reduction in symptoms from switching to vaping would most likely be attributed to “smoking cessation.”

Not wanting to get carried away, Miler and Hajek explain the possibilities of coincidence in experiencing health improvements after starting to vape. However, the two have come up with an intriguing hypothesis.

They suggest that propylene glycol (PG), a common ingredient used in e-liquids, may have stifled a microbial stain giving LM issues. They also point out that nicotine’s anti-inflammatory properties could also have played a soothing role, although they added that LM typically uses nicotine-free products.

We know that PG has antimicrobial properties, although the authors clarified that we are unsure as to whether EC aerosols produce the same effect. Therefore, Miler and Hajek have proposed a study.

To better understand if PG and e-cigarettes can treat tonsillitis, test a group of non-smokers with recurrent throat infections, by getting them to vape nicotine-free e-liquid. This would eliminate the anti-inflammatory factor of nicotine, and help determine if LM’s story was purely anecdotal and coincidence, or if others could benefit.

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