According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year, smoking kills approximately 5 million people world-wide.
Nicotine addiction is a serious condition and one that is very difficult to shake. Smokers who try to quit find that withdrawal can be unbearable and sheer will power and/or knowledge of the above statistic is not enough 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.
Acupuncture is an alternative form of medicine that can help you to quit smoking, however for the squeamish or needle-phobic, the thought of acupuncture conjures images of excruciating pain caused by needles being inserted into various delicate points of the body.
Whilst the word “acupuncture” may conjure up such distressful images, rest assured that acupuncture needles are completely different from syringe needles, being so fine that they are virtually painless when inserted into the body. They are hair-thin and designed to only stimulate the body’s natural energy centres without pain or discomfort.
To help smokers reduce their habit or even to quit smoking altogether, acupuncture needles are inserted into multiple points in the ear where they remain for about 20 minutes.
During a session, acupuncturists use transparent tape to affix tiny metal balls identical to that used in a ball point pen to the acupuncture points of the prospective quitter’s ears. The patient is then instructed to lightly press those balls whenever a yearning for smoking sets in. This gentle pressing of the balls stimulates acupuncture points.
The Cochrane Collaboration, a not-for-profit network of health practitioners, conducted a study in 2000 to gauge the efficacy of hypnotherapy for quitting smoking.
In 2006, two studies showcased promising results. The first study assigned a group of participants to hypnotherapy sessions. These participants had one hypnotherapy sessions once per week for eight weeks, while the control group was placed on a waiting list.
In week eight, at the end of the treatment, the rate of smoking cessation for the hypnotherapy group was 40%, rising to 60% in week 12 and 40% in week 26 post treatment. Even after one year, the quit rate was 60% for those who had the hypnosis treatment.
Hypnosis is a very viable form of alternative medicine readily available via CD’s and MP3 downloads on large retailers like Amazon. Here is an example:
Using hypnosis to tap into your subconscious mind, can make quitting smoking perfectly achievable. The positive effect of the hypnotherapy reinforces your willpower, focus and strength, allowing you to stick to your decision to quit, taking it one day at a time and succeeding. You can stop smoking permanently. The Stop Smoking Now CD can develop in you:
☆ Powerful changes that make you not want to smoke at all
☆ Withdrawal symptoms ease, and your willpower is enhanced
☆ Motivation and determination to quit is strengthened
There are 3 tracks on the CD
1. Listen & wake
2. Mini Hypnosis Booster
3. Bedtime hypnosis
The Listen and wake track will guide you into a deeply relaxed state and build your motivation and commitment to give up smoking permanently. As you listen and become deeply relaxed and receptive, you absorb the hypnotic suggestions to reduce the desire more and more. Use this session if you want to feel refreshed and alert afterwards.
The Mini hypnosis session lasts approximately 5 minutes and is designed for use if you experience any difficult cravings
The Bedtime hypnosis is similar to track 1 except it guides you to sleep as it ends, making it ideal to use when you go to bed.
Meditation And Relaxation
One of the biggest obstacles to quitting smoking is the anxiety associated with 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 to the body.
There are various relaxation CD’s that can be of great help plus visualization and mindful meditation guides that help you to take your mind to another place or on a peaceful journey of the imagination that can help alleviate the anxiety you feel 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 to 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. 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 stopping smoking.
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 participating in anti-smoking counseling. At the end of 12 weeks, nine 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 found in the herb called hyperforin, 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 anti-depressants. 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 the neurotransmitter dopamine into the brain which 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 or Panax ginseng and American ginseng 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 a regular intake of ginseng significantly reduces reaction time to visual and auditory stimuli, increases respiratory quotient, enhances alertness and 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 desired benefits.
The Liver plays an important role in filtering out the toxins created by smoking. It is, therefore, crucial to ensure that the liver functions properly. Seeds of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) can be used to produce extracts that support a healthy liver.
Silymarin, at 70% concentration, is central to standardized milk thistle extract. Studies prove that standardized extract of milk thistle changes the liver’s outer cells 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 liver-specific antioxidants. These antioxidants then eliminate damaging free radicals found in the liver.
A standardized milk-thistle product should be able to deliver a total of 420 milligrams of silymarin over three doses per day. The dose can be reduced to 280 milligrams per day after six to eight weeks when the benefits have been achieved.
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 found as the basis of many smoking blends. Smoking herbs can serve as an alternative to smoking conventional tobacco without the latter’s tar and harmful additives. Coltsfoot helps in curing inflamed lung tissue, loosening secretions, and toning the lungs.
Herbs That Ease Nerves
Herbs like green oats that are mildly sedative have two-fold benefits: they soothe nerves and curb nicotine withdrawal.
The post-smoking-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 if insomnia is one of the withdrawal symptoms.
It is important to remember that the safety of using supplements and herbs should be a high priority for expectant mothers, nursing mothers, children, and those with any medical conditions and/or are under any medication.
If you fall into any of the above categories is would be wise to speak with a certified health/holistic practitioner before taking any alternative medicines that aim to help you quit smoking.