Quitting cigarettes is one of the hardest addictions to beat, but very rewarding when you do. I commonly get asked whether there is anything I have at the clinic that will help someone give up, or any helpful strategies to quit the cigarettes.
Much More Than Just A Nicotine Addiction
Where the problem all began
This TV commercial depicts a period when cigarettes were recommended by doctors.
Obviously they no longer promote smoking.
The plethora of different ingredients in cigarettes is what makes them so deadly when they are smoked on a regular basis. Below is a list submitted by the 5 major American cigarette companies to the Dept. of Health and Human Services in April of 1994 listing the 599 additives approved by the United States Government for use in the manufacture of cigarettes. Some ingredients are added for flavor, but research has shown that the key purpose of using additives is to improve tobacco's potency resulting in increased addictiveness.
See Full List Of Ingredients And Additives Here
These cigarette ingredients are approved as additives for foods, but were not tested by burning them, burning often changes a substances properties, sometimes for the worse. Over 4000 chemical compounds are created by a burning cigarette. Depending on the source you will find numbers that state anywhere from 40 - 60 known carcinogenic ingredients in cigarettes known to cause cancer.
Usually people have tried a few times to give up smoking in the past and are now looking for an extra aid to help them quit. The long and short of it however is that there are no easy ways to quit. Anyone who tells you that there are is probably exaggerating. Cigarettes are one of the hardest addictions to beat. But the reward of giving up is the best gift health wise that a smoker can give themselves. Everyone knows at this stage that they are terrible for your health, it’s a no brainer, but in case you need a few reminders of the down sides here are a few current smokers have:
Constant oxygen debt and elevated heart rate
Knowing you face probable stroke, heart attack, cancer, emphysema
Higher insurance premiums
Chemically constricted arteries and veins
Greater medical costs
Smelly clothes, smelly house
The inability to laugh out loud without violently breaking into a hacking fit
Expelling yellow/green (sometimes bloody) sputum each morning
A coarse raspy "throaty" nasal voice to sing the bass parts with
Frayed nerves when you can't light up
Yellow teeth and gum disease
A smelly car with windows you can't see through
Burn holes in your furniture
Premature skin aging
Approx €110,000 less well off over a life time
The high probability your kids will smoke
Though cost alone seldom stands as a strong enough reason to quit, ill highlight some interesting research where researchers worked out what the true cost of smoking is. They worked it out to be €21 a pack for the cost of early deaths, smoking-related disabilities and other factors (which includes €13 a pack due to reduced life expectancy). €3.50 a pack for the cost of the effect of second-hand smoke on significant others and €0.90 a pack for the cost of the effect of second-hand smoke on the society as a whole. At approximately €25.50 for every pack, the total cost over one smoker's lifetime equals nearly €110,000. In past studies, researchers only calculated medical and second-hand smoke costs. However, in this study researchers tried to take into account the entire range of lifetime costs.
Herbal medicine has no magic treatments to make people stop smoking but there are some herbs that can be a beneficial aid to the person as they embark on this difficult journey.
Lobelia inflate (common name Indian tobacco)
This herb has being used traditionally for helping people stop smoking. It is thought to help people fight the effects of nicotine withdrawal and is found in many anti-smoking products. The active ingredient in lobelia is an alkaloid called lobeline, which is thought to have similar actions on the body as the alkaloid nicotine. Research has shown that lobeline may increase levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain similar to cigarettes. Dopamine influences mood and produces feelings of pleasure.
St. Johns wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Commonly known as an antidepressant, St Johns wort has a calming effect on the nervous system and improves sleep which will greatly help someone who is withdrawing from addiction. There are some uncontrolled pilot studies confirming its effectiveness. Calming the nervous system will render a person less likely to act on the impulse of the addiction.
Panax Ginseng (Panax)
Ginseng has been shown to prevent the nicotine-induced release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is what makes people feel good after smoking and is part of the addiction process. This in theory would make ginseng beneficial to someone contemplating quitting. Ginseng is an adapatogen tonic and improves the function of the body at many levels.
A 5 minute walk
After reviewing the results of 12 studies and their connections between exercise and nicotine deprivation, researchers determined just five minutes of exercise helped a smoker overcome his or her immediate need for a cigarette. A sign more professionals are coming around to the notion that treating exercise like a drug can do wonders for your health, straight from the lead author of the study “If we found the same effects in a drug, it would immediately be sold as an aid to help people quit smoking” . There is no doubt about it physical exercise in fresh air will strongly enhance your success when quitting.
Diet is another great tool to get right when approaching the cold turkey of giving up cigarettes. Smokers tend to have parallel addictions like caffeine, sugar and alcohol. Addressing these in advance or after quitting will help. Eating healthy natural foods is paramount for anyone getting rid of an addiction. Large studies have confirmed what smokers already know. Smokers reported that drinking milk or water, or eating fruits and vegetables, worsened the taste of cigarettes. On the other hand, alcohol, coffee and sugar drinks enhanced the taste of cigarettes. With this in mind it would be in you best interest to increase water, dairy and fruit and vegetables.
Im not comfortable with the emerging data on Ecigarettes either with regards safety, and would advise only very shot term use. In the end it will be a combination of things that will be the key to ones success. It will generally involve change. You may have to completely change your social life or work environment in order to succeed. Don’t be afraid of change; instead have the courage to embrace it. Good luck.
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