Nicotine addiction is a serious condition and is one that is very difficult to let go of. Smokers who try to quit find that the withdrawal can be unbearable and so any type of aid that can ease the transition is not only helpful, but, can greatly improve the chances of success.
Here are some all natural and alternative remedies that can help. The best advice one can offer to those quitting smoking is to try everything and anything to rid yourself of this cancer causing addiction and to become cigarette free.
Every year, smoking alone kills approximately 5 million people all over the world, according to World Health Organization (WHO). Acupuncture is an alternative form of medicine that can help one to quit smoking.
For some, the thought of acupuncture, conjures images of excruciating pain caused by needles being inserted into various delicate points of the body, not a pretty picture for the squeamish.
As much as the word “acupuncture” conjures up such distressful images, rest assured that acupuncture needles are completely different from syringe needles to the point of being painless when inserted into the body. They are hair-thin needles made to shallowly prick the skin at specific points in the body, and the entire process is pain free.
To help smokers to reduce their smoking or even to quit smoking, presuming they’re motivated to do so, acupuncture needles are inserted into multiple points in the ear. Those needles remain there for about 20 minutes.
Amid sessions, acupuncturists use transparent tapes to affix tiny metal balls — identical to that used in a ball point pen — to the acupuncture points of the prospective quitters’ ears. They are instructed to lightly press those balls whenever yearning for smoking sets in. The gentle pressing of the balls stimulates respective acupuncture points.
A study, involving 141 participants, drew a conclusion that acupuncture plus education was four times more effective than acupuncture alone. Acupuncture is also commonly used for stress relief and relaxation, and of course, this can be indispensable when quitting smoking.
The Cochrane Collaboration, a not-for-profit network of health practitioners, conducted a study in 2000 to gauge the efficacy of hypnotherapy in quitting smoking.
The study concluded that hypnotherapy was not as effective as counselling therapy because it did not have any greater effects on 6 month quit rates than the other treatment methods or no treatment at all.
However, half a decade later in 2006, two studies showcased more promising results. The first study assigned a group of participants to hypnotherapy sessions. These participants had 1 hypnotherapy sessions once per week for 8 weeks, while the control group was placed on a waiting list.
In week 8, at the end of the treatment, the rate of smoking cessation for the hypnotherapy group was 40%; 60% in week 12 after treatment, and 40% in week 26 after treatment. Even after 1 year, the quit rate was 60% for those who had the hypnosis treatment.
Hypnosis is a very viable form of alternative medicine that is used not only for smoking, but, for weight loss, relaxation and motivation. It is definitely worth a try in your quitting efforts.
Meditation And Relaxation
One of the biggest obstacles to quitting smoking is the anxiety that results from nicotine withdrawal and this is where meditation and relaxation exercises can be of great help. Never underestimate the power of the mind in dictating what happens in the body.
There are various relaxation CD’s that can be of great help, and also visualization and mindful meditation that can allow you to take your mind to another place, a peaceful journey that can alleviate anxiety and calm you as your body withdraws from cigarettes.
Herbs That Help To Quit Smoking
The herb lobelia is used in many anti-smoking products, mainly because, lobeline, the herb’s active ingredient has similar effects on human body as nicotine.
Studies have found that lobeline increases the level of the neurotransmitter dopamine in human brains, much in the same way cigarettes do. Dopamine is responsible for producing feelings of pleasure.
Lobelia is a toxic herb; therefore it must be used only when prescribed by a qualified doctor, holistic medical practitioner, or trained herbalist.
The herb’s toxicity, depending on the dosage variants, can cause several physical conditions, from dry mouth to convulsions to coma, and even death. What is more, people with heart conditions and high blood pressure, expectant mothers, nursing women and children should never use lobelia.
St. John’s Wort
As much as St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is used to treat depression, some preliminary studies have validated the herb’s efficacy in smoking cessation.
To put it into perspective, one study required all participants, who smoked at least one cigarette a day, to take 450 mg of St. John’s Wort twice a day parallel to taking anti-smoking counselling. At the end of 12 weeks, 9 out of 24 participants quit smoking, an impressive 37.5% cessation rate.
While not all studies had positive results, more than 24 studies have found that the herb was able to significantly reverse depressive moods, and that it can help with post-cessation emotional disorientation.
Up until now, all standard St. John’s Wort extract supplements were known to contain 0.3% of the active ingredient hypericin. A recent study suggests that another compound, hyperforin, found in the herb could be the reason why St. John’s Wort works as an antidepressant.
On a cautionary note, St John’s Wort has the tendency to interfere with some prescription and over the counter drugs, such as, other antidepressants. HIV and AIDS treatment drugs, drugs to prevent organ rejection for transplant patients, and contraceptives.
It is never recommended for pregnant or nursing women, kids, those suffering from liver or kidney disease and those with bipolar disorder.
Nicotine releases neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain and causes smokers to experience the feeling of pleasure, which, results in addiction. Ginseng prevents nicotine-induced release of dopamine, however, no concrete research has been carried out to establish the herb as an anti-smoking agent. Evidence does exist, however, that Ginseng can help.
Ginseng can help with side effects as both Asian (Panax ginseng) and American (P. quinquefolius) ginseng — the former more aptly called “adaptogen” — can help the body to deal with and adapt to the physical and mental stresses of quitting smoking.
Ginseng’s positive effect on the brain is implicit. However studies have found that regular intake of ginseng significantly reduces reaction time to visual and auditory stimuli; increases respiratory quotient; enhances alertness, concentration and improves visual and motor coordination. All of which can become impaired during withdrawal from nicotine.
One criterion to select from the many ginseng products on the market is to pick the one that has been standardized to 4 to 7% ginsenosides. The next step is to follow the instructions on the label. Both standardized extracts and whole ginseng root will produce the most desired benefits.
A daily dose of 1 or 2 grams of ginseng can be ingested by nibbling on the end of one root, which is soft and easy to digest. You can easily keep a root handy in a place of your choice, such as, in a car or in a drawer of your desk, and start nibbling whenever you feel like it.
The Liver plays an important role in filtering out the toxins created by smoking, it is, therefore, crucial to ensure that it functions properly. Seeds of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) can be used to produce extracts that support healthy liver functions.
Silymarin, at 70% concentration, is central to standardized milk thistle extract. Studies prove that standardized extract of milk thistle changes the liver’s outer cell and prevents toxic chemicals from entering the liver’s inner cells.
The extract also elevates the liver’s capacity to create new cells, which, activates the liver-specific antioxidants. These antioxidants then eliminate the notorious oxygen radicals residing in the liver.
A standardized milk-thistle product should be able to administer a total of 420 milligrams of silymarin over three doses per day. Upon experiencing the expected result, which, should occur in 6 to 8 weeks, the dose can be reduced to 280 milligrams per day.
Apart from loose stools, no side effects are reported with the intake of milk-thistle extract.
Herbal Smoking Mixtures
Coltsfoot is a traditional smoking herb. It can be found as the basis of many smoking blends. Smoking herb can serve as an alternative to smoking conventional tobacco, the latter containing tar and harmful additives. Coltsfoot helps in curing inflamed lung tissue, loosening secretions, and toning the lungs.
Herbs That Ease Nerves
Herbs that are mildly sedating have two-fold benefits: they soothe nerves and curb nicotine withdrawal. Green oats are believed to have both sedating and tonic effects on the nervous system.
The post-cessation period will invariably call upon a varying degree of anxiety and panic attacks. While in such a state, passion flower can be used as a remedy.
Mood swings and depression brought on by smoking cessation can be cured by kava kava, which, is an effective antidote to such emotional disorientation.
Anxiety that follows immediately after you give up smoking can be alleviated by skullcap. It should be taken alone during the day, and with valerian at night as a natural sleep aid.
Valerian is known for relaxing tense muscles. It is highly effective for insomnia, if that happens to be one of your quitter’s symptom, and allows you to get a good night’s sleep.
It is imperative to remember that safety of supplements and herbs in expectant mothers, nursing mothers, children, and those with any medical conditions and/or are under any medications is yet to be established.
It is a prudent decision to speak with a certified health/holistic practitioner before taking any alternative medicine in the form of herbs or supplements to quit smoking.