Everyone knows that smoking is bad for you – the days when the addictive habit seemed “cool” or alluring are long-gone now that most people are aware of the devastating effects that smoking can have on your body.
But quitting smoking can be difficult – after all, it is a legitimate addiction! While many people turn to pharmaceuticals to help them kick the habit, slapping on nicotine patches or chomping down on nicotine-flavored gum to help curb their cravings, there are natural alternatives.
Here are some researched methods to help you quit smoking naturally.
Why you Should Quit
It’s no secret that smoking is terrible for your lungs: the habit causes 80-90% of all lung cancers in the United States (1).
Smoking doesn’t just affect the lungs: it’s linked to developing cancer of the mouth and throat, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, voicebox (larynx), trachea, bronchus, kidney and renal pelvis, urinary bladder, and cervix, and causes acute myeloid leukemia. That’s because cigarettes and other tobacco products contain up to 7000 chemicals.
Cigarette smoke is particularly harmful to the central nervous system and cardiovascular system.
Other health effects include:
- Dull sense of smell and taste
- Poor vision
- Early menopause
- Poor dental health
- High cholesterol
- Cardiovascular disease
- Persistent Cough
- Blood clotting
- Loss of appetite
- Erectile dysfunction
- Wrinkly skin
How to Quit Smoking Naturally
You’ll be free from your addiction in no time!
1. Fresh Lime Juice
A recent Thai study published in the Journal Of The Medical Association of Thailand reported that fresh lime could be a viable alternative to nicotine gum – although not quite as effective as the gum, it did help study participants cut down on their habit and manage their cravings (4). Lime has the advantage of being cheap, accessible, and non-toxic – and it will probably make your breath smell better than nicotine gum!
Acupuncture, while often viewed with suspicion by Western patients, has been shown to ameliorate smoking withdrawal symptoms, as well as the selective attention to smoking-related visual cues in smokers, according to one study (5).
Taking to the treadmill may not only help you get your mind off smoking and help you gain back some of that lung capacity that smoking will have caused you, but it’s also associated with a short-term reduction in the desire to light up a cigarette (6).
This one may sound a little unusual, but there’s more than just anecdotal evidence that hypnosis really can help long-term smokers kick the habit. In a meta-analysis of almost 60 studies, hypnosis was judged to be at least partially efficacious – and completely safe – in the treatment of smoking cessation (7).
5. Mindfulness Meditation
In college students who smoked, it was found that mindfulness-based interventions could reduce their urge to smoke by a measurable amount (8).
6. St. John’s Wort
Although most of the evidence about the efficacy of St. John’s Wort is still in the preclinical phase, the evidence that does exist makes a compelling case for St. John’s Wort being an effective smoking cessation tool (9).
Of course, St. John’s Wort can interact with many different types of medication, so always consult with your doctor before taking it, especially if you’re also currently taking anti-depression or anti-anxiety medications.
The Scientific American reports that “…pairing the smell of cigarettes with unpleasant odors made people smoke less during the following week.”
“… subjects spent the night hooked up to devices that measured breathing and brain activity while they received puffs of the smell of smoked cigarettes followed by puffs of the odor of rotten eggs or decaying fish through a face mask.” (10)
For comparison, researchers gave the other half of the group the face mask therapy during the day. This went on for a week. The group that received it at night cut their smoking 13-30% in the following week. The day group did not change their smoking habits.
You can speak to your doctor to find out if there are any clinic in your area offering olfactory training.
Smoking depletes your body’s magnesium stores. Studies have found that increasing your magnesium intake for a month significantly decreases in the number of cigarettes you’re likely to smoke (11).
Magnesium also promotes relaxation and fights depression, anxiety, headaches, irritability and other symptoms prevalent in people trying to quit smoking.
If you’re struggling to quit smoking, you’re not alone – many people have been through the same difficulties, and successfully managed to leave the habit behind.
When you quit smoking, you’ll enjoy health benefits like a decreased risk of developing lung cancer, better lung capacity, and of course, you’ll smell better – so give any of these methods a try the next time you feel the urge to light up a cigarette.