By Kate Maxey
Cigarettes kill a lot of people. Not only is cigarette smoking the single greatest cause of preventable disease but it is probably the most difficult addiction to kick. We all know the health problems that come with cigarettes, from respiratory and heart issues to impotence and cancer. I am not going to cover the problems with this habit so much as I want to talk about ways to kick it. For some you just might feel that it is time to do it, but maybe you need a little help.
So here are some suggestions in the herbal and psychological realms:
* Social support: Grab a friend to quit with you. If you know of another person who also wants to stop ,do it together. Your odds of continuing cessation will greatly improve. One study found that if someone’s spouse quits with them their chance of continued smoking decreased by nearly 70 percent.
You can also tell your friends and family that you are trying to quit so that they can provide support and motivation. Social media can be useful for this as well.
Psychological treatments: Behavioral therapy can be beneficial like setting up some sort of rewards system for when you don’t smoke. Whatever it may be try to make your reward something healthy, like giving yourself time to relax or be in nature or buying a special small thing for yourself. Sweets and fatty foods might not be a good idea as rewards because people tend to put on weight when they quit smoking.
Another idea is hypnotherapy. I have personally had really good experiences with hypnotherapy which is why I mention it here. It doesn’t work for everyone and the clinical results are mixed, but it is something to look into if you have the extra funds to pay for a few sessions. For more info on this:
*Exercise: Exercise not only helps to relax the nervous system but it helps the brain to be happy and healthy. Aerobic exercise especially helps with clearing out the lungs as well. I have a friend who when she was trying to quit ran everyday, and what really kept her from smoking was seeing all the black tar nastiness that was coming out of her lungs! No good!
*Nicotine Replacement Therapy: This comes in the form of patches, gum, inhalers, ect and can help with the intense cravings that come with putting down cigarettes. Clinical studies have shown that NRT is more effective then a placebo treatment, however abstinence rates are only about 50 percent at 12 month follow ups. Also, a smoker can become dependent on these things so it is good to be aware of other options.
*Herbal Treatment: There are many herbal allies to help with putting the cigarettes down. Here are a list of some of the main ones:
Lobelia: (Lobelia inflata) Lobelia has a general depressant action on the central and autonomic nervous systems and is a great anti-asthmatic. Clinical studies have shown that a constituent in Lobelia called lobeline, acts similarly to nicotine in the brain, making it helpful with withdrawal symptoms. It also thins the thick mucus that accompanies cessation from smoking. This is a low does plant so it is best to take it as a tincture or you can also smoke it in a herbal smoking blend. (More on this later)
Oatstraw: (Avena Sativa) Oatstraw is a phenomenal nervous system tonic. I personally believe it should be in our water supply it is so amazing. It calms and balances the nervous system and not only helps with nicotine withdrawal, but it also helps with other addiction withdrawals that come with opiates and alcohol.
Skullcap: (Scutellaria laterifolia) Is a strong nervous system sedative that works for the acute symptoms of withdrawal. It effectively soothes nervous tension while renewing and reviving the central nervous system.
Yerba Santa: (Eriodictyon californicum) This stimulating expectorant thins and stimulates the free flow of mucus from the lungs when there is congestion with thick mucus.
Elecampane root: (Inula helenium ) Another great lung herb that helps get the gunk up and out of the lungs. It also soothes irritation in the lungs which is nice for the lungs of a smoker. It is useful for asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, COPD and for chronic coughs.
One great tea recipe for soothing the lungs is:
Coltsfoot 2 parts (A great expectorant and anti spasmodic)
Marshmallow root 2 parts (A great soothing demulcent)
Hyssop 2 parts (Expectorant, nervine and anti-spasmodic)
Licorice 1 part ( Soothing demulcent, as well as a nice liver and adrenal supporting herb)
Anise 1 part (A great anti-spasmodic)
Some other great tea blends for the lungs are made by Humboldt Herbals. One is a lung tonic and the other is a nice expectorant tea. you can find them here:
They also carry a great herbal smoking blend that can be useful when you are dealing with the habit of the hand to mouth action of smoking. You know, when you just need to smoke something. They don’t put Lobelia into their blend, but you can add it to this blend or get an idea of some other good smoking herbs.
They also have a great tincture to help with the nicotine withdrawal symptoms that I have seen be very effective for people:
Well I hope this helps. And good luck to all those who have decided to put the cigarettes down!
Medical Herbalism by David Hoffmann
Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth by Sharol Tilgner
Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Elson Haas