Smoking is a dangerous activity that can lead to a number of very serious, life-threatening conditions. Of course, the first thing that may come to mind is lung cancer but smoking is also linked to heart disease, stroke, kidney, cervical, bladder, throat and pancreatic cancer. There are over 60 carcinogenic compounds in cigarette smoke.
Smoking is the most preventable cause of death and people who smoke die ten years earlier, on average than people who do not smoke. The World Health Organization states that over six million people die each year from smoking and 600,000 die from secondhand smoke.
Perhaps you have made up your mind to quit but aren’t quite sure how to go about it? Or, perhaps, you like millions of others, have tried to quit cold turkey only to start smoking again in time.
The good news is, if you have decided to quit, your body knows how to heal and damage can be reversed in time.
With an increase in awareness of alternative therapies, some have risen to the top as effective in helping smokers break the habit. Here is a look at a few natural ways you can quit smoking and be on the road to better health today.
According to Harvard trained MD acupuncturist, Allison Bailey, acupuncture is one of the most effective, drug-free ways to quit smoking. Not only can acupuncture bring relief for symptoms of withdrawal such as irritability, restlessness and the jitters, but it can also help increase levels of serotonin in plasma and brain tissue which helps to reduce the desire to smoke.
In a review of fourteen clinical trials using acupuncture, six studies compared acupuncture against a fake version, the American Journal of Medicine reports that smokers who received the real acupuncture were more than three times as likely not to smoke for six months to a year.
Meditation the practice of quieting the mind and body, seems to help combat the psychological distress and stress that almost all smokers undergo during the first few weeks of withdrawal. A study conducted by the Yale University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry found that nicotine adults who smoked 20 cigarettes a day benefited from mindfulness training. It was reported that 32 percent of adults who practiced mindfulness did not smoke a week before their follow-up compared to 6 percent of adults who were did not receive mindfulness training but participated in the Freedom From Smoking program.
A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that daily users of nicotine had reduced cravings when they inhaled black pepper and angelica essential oils. Another study found that inhaling black pepper essential oil produces a response in the respiratory tract similar to what is experienced during smoking. This, researchers say, is what keeps cravings for a cigarette at bay.
Invest in a bottle of black pepper essential oil (available from this page on Amazon), add a drop to a tissue and inhale when smoking cravings strike.
The anxiety and stress that can accompany smoking cessation can be unbearable for many. A great way to moderate these uncomfortable feelings is by exercising. Physical activity releases endorphins and serotonin. These chemicals help produce a relaxed and happy state. Exercise outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine enhances the positive impact. Daily exercise will improve your mood and help improve the chance for success.
Not only is eating a healthy diet loaded with fresh fruits and veggies great for your overall health and wellbeing but it will also help you cope as you quit smoking. A study published in the Journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research found that people who consumed more fruits and vegetables while they quit smoking were able to stay clear of cigarettes for a longer period of time than if they didn’t eat as much fresh fruits and veggies. If you are trying to quit smoking, try to eat a plant-based diet for at least 30 days. This will help you in your efforts and also allow your body the fuel it needs to detoxify and boost your immune system.
Studies have found hypnosis to be an effective all natural tool to assist with long term smoking cessation. During a hypnosis session for smoking cessation, a patient is generally asked to imagine all the unpleasant outcomes of smoking such as smells or how your mouth may feel dry after smoking.
A popular smoking cessation technique, Spiegel’s method focuses on these things: smoking is a poison to the body, you must have your body to live and you should have respect for your body. Hypnotherapists generally teach clients self hypnosis so that this tool can be used daily.
Although hypnosis does not work for everyone, there is evidence that this method can be quite helpful for many in reducing cravings and ending the addiction to nicotine.
Herbs are potent plants that contain numerous therapeutic properties, many of which can be useful in smoking cessation. Calamus (Acorus calamus), also known as sweet fig, an herb that is often used to treat bronchitis, whooping cough and asthma, is also effective in clearing out toxins from the lungs. This herb is highly calming and can help reduce anxiety while providing energy necessary during withdrawal. Some even say that chewing on the root reduces the desire for tobacco.
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) contains expectorant properties that help clean and purify the lungs. In addition, this herb also sores irritated membranes in the respiratory tract. It promotes sweating which also helps clear toxins out of the skin. Be careful as this herb does have laxative properties. If you experience diarrhea, stop using the herb for a bit and resume with a smaller dose.
Lobelia or Indian tobacco has the capability to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings that come with stopping smoking. This herb contains an alkaloid that is called lobeline which binds to the same receptor sites in the brain that nicotine does. It actually produces the same effects in the body as nicotine but does not cause the same damage as nicotine and is not addictive.
In addition, lobelia contains an alkaloid called isolobelaine which produces a state of relaxation on the autonomic nervous system. This is beneficial to help combat feelings of nervousness and irritability that accompany smoking cessation. This herb will also help to clear the lungs and ease coughing. To control the desire to smoke, take 5 to 10 drops of lobelia tincture under your tongue or sip lobelia tea.
Note: This is a very strong herb and can cause nausea, dizziness and vomiting if taken in high doses. Do not take this herb if you have high blood pressure a heart condition.
Passionflower is well known for its ability to promote relaxation and calmness. It can ease the anxiety and irritability associated with nicotine withdrawal and reduce cravings. This herb can also be smoked which can help with the urge to “smoke” something. You can mix the herb with regular tobacco and gradually lessen the amount of tobacco until you have nothing left but the herb.
Valarian (Valeriana officinalis), is mostly known for it sedative effects. It is a muscle relaxant and can help you sleep if you are experiencing insomnia. Take caution when you take this herb not to operate machinery, use only in the evening or when you are planning on sleeping.
Note: Always be sure to check with a qualified health practitioner before using any herbs in combination with smoking cessation.
In addition to using any of these alternative therapies, be sure that you are living a healthy lifestyle, eating a balanced diet, get plenty of rest, manage stress and exercise frequently.