Smoking • Natural Ways to Quit

It's no accident, and it's not bias, that you will find smoking in the "substances to avoid" category of nearly every entry on the site.

Image of a Skull with a smoking cigarette between its teeth - smoking kills

The act of inhaling burning tobacco, along with the 4,000+ chemicals in some tobacco products, the dozens of carcinogens and 400 other toxins, like nicotine, tar and formaldehyde, arsenic, DDT and ammonia, is just about the worst thing you can do to your body.  Though it isn’t “smoking,” chewing tobacco has fewer (but plenty) carcinogens and causes cancers of the mouth, esophagus and pancreas.

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF SMOKING?

  • Early menopause
  • Greater risk of stroke and heart attack when coupled with oral contraceptives
  • Greater susceptibility to infections
  • Gum disease
  • Higher percentage of deformed and genetically damaged sperm
  • Higher risk of blindness
  • Hydrogen cyanide affects the cilia of the lungs that help to clean out foreign substances, so that chemicals increase inside the lungs.
  • Impotence (possibly due to lower blood flow and damage to the blood vessels of the penis
  • Increased risk of cleft palate and cleft lip (in babies)
  • Increased risk of miscarriage and other complications
  • Increased risk of ulcers
  • Irritation and inflammation of the stomach and intestines
  • Irritation of the trachea and larynx
  • Low birth weight in babies of mothers who smoke
  • Lower levels of antioxidants in the blood
  • Lower sperm count
  • Oxidizing chemicals, including free radicals, can damage the heart muscles and blood vessels, reacting with cholesterol and leading to heart disease, stroke and blood vessel disease.
  • Paternal smoking is also harmful through second-hand smoke.
  • Permanent damage to the air sacs of the lungs
  • Reduced bone density
  • Reduced fertility and menstrual irregularities
  • Reduced smell and taste
  • Smoking increases blood pressure, increasing risks of heart attack or stroke.
  • Smoking increases skin temperature by constricting blood vessels, which may result in colder hands and feet due to the decreased blood and oxygen flow.  Long-term effects include increased wrinkling and changes in skin color.
  • Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the world, according to the CDC
  • Smoking raises body temperature.  The temperature at the lit end of a cigarette may be 203 degrees F and when you inhale that hot smoke, your lung temperature rises.  Your lungs are designed to cool or remove heat from your body and when they are hot, they are unable to do that.  Hence, your core body temperature rises.
  • Smoking raises your heart rate from 10-25 beats per minute, caused by nicotine and other chemicals in the tobacco.  The heartbeat may become less regular, increasing possibility of heart problems.
  • Swelling and narrowing of the lung airways and excess mucus in lung passages
  • The carbon nomoxide inhaled makes the blood thicker, requiring more oxygen during exercise.  Less oxygen is available to the brain, heart, muscles and other organs.
  • The earlier in life you started, the more difficult it is to quit. It takes more willpower than most have to kick this drug habit.
  • The tar in cigarettes contains carcinogens, increasing your chances of getting cancer. Other carcinogenic metals in smoke include arsenic, cadmium, lead and radioactive compounds. These toxins increase risks of cancer of the lung, nose, larynx, mouth, tongue, nasal sinus, oesophagus, throat, pancreas, bone marrow, cervix, ovary, ureter, liver, bladder, kidney, bowel and stomach.
  • Tightening of some muscles
  • Your second-hand smoke harms everyone who inhales it.

IS IT CONTAGIOUS?

According to the 1997 California EPA Report on Secondhand Smoke, over 53,000 people die every year from secondhand smoke exposure.

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

A doctor may recommend NRT (nicotine replacement therapy)—like chewing nicotine gum. NRT provides small amounts of nicotine may help to satisfy cravings while eliminating the other chemicals in cigarettes. (The “natural” idea is to get all the toxins out of your body, including the nicotine.). Your doctor might recommend you use the QuitGuide app, or sign up for SmokefreeTXT, or call a quitline.

SIDE EFFECTS OF QUITTING

Anytime you stop giving your body poisons that it has grown accustomed to, there will be some side effects. They are temporary and there is light at the end of that tunnel. Alternatively, there is only darkness at the end of the tunnel you are in with your cigarettes. It’s safe to say that anything that causes withdrawal symptoms can’t be good.  When was the last time you heard someone groaning because they couldn’t get a broccoli fix?  Here’s what can happen when you quit:

  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Digestion problems
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Increased appetite
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances

SELF TREATMENT

Others have made claims of efficacy for the following suggestions and treatments, but this information is provided as anecdotal information for your further research.

DIET

A healthy immune system is always the first line of defense against disease. It may also help you to overcome cravings faster by balancing your hormone levels. To promote a healthy immune system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent nutrition plan.

FOODS THAT MAY PROMOTE HEALING

  • Bone Broth
  • Foods rich in Vitamin C (smoking depletes C)
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Salty snacks
  • Vegetables that require a lot of chewing

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO AVOID

  • Alcohol, which is usually a trigger
  • Caffeine
  • Meats
  • Processed sugars
  • Smoking and all tobacco products
  • Spicy foods

TEAS AND OTHER LIQUIDS

  • Chamomile
  • Ginseng
  • Green
  • Jasmine
  • Kuzu
  • Mimosa
  • Mullein
  • Oat grass
  • Quit tea
  • Skullcap

HERBS AND SPICES

  • Angelica
  • Ashwagandha
  • Avena Sativa
  • Black pepper
  • Catnip
  • Cayenne
  • Coltsfoot
  • Ginseng
  • Gotu Kola
  • Horsetail (short-term)
  • Hyssop
  • Licorice
  • Lobelia (Indian tobacco)
  • Mimosa Pudica
  • Peppermint
  • Rhodiola
  • Shatavari
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Triphala Churna
  • Valerian Root

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically in a carrier oil, or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath.

  • Bergamot
  • Chamomile
  • Essential oil blends
  • Grapefruit
  • Helichrysum
  • Lavender
  • Marjoram
  • Peppermint
  • Ylang Ylang

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

Supplements may have side effects or interact with drugs or other substances.

  • 5-HTP
  • AdrenaCalm
  • Beta carotene
  • Calcium
  • Cytisine, if you live in central or eastern Europe.
  • Folate
  • Gaba
  • L-tryptophan
  • Lycopene
  • Omega 3’s
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc

HYDRATION

It is especially important to drink plenty of water while you are quitting, as water helps to flush toxins from the body. Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½ ounce to 1 ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty.

EXERCISE

Exercise will counter the increased appetite you may feel, and will mitigate withdrawal symptoms. That exercise is beneficial to overall health is undisputed. When you are in the process of quitting an addiction, exercise can serve to distract you and improve your sense of well-being. Do what you can do without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Stay calm. Anxiety undermines health and is the surest way back to smoking. Just the act of quitting can cause anxiety. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend. Do what works for you to stay mellow and on the road to recovery.

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • Chew sugar-free gum
  • Detox herbs
  • Diatomaceous earth for detoxification
  • Honey was used as a substitute for smoking on submarines during the war.

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

NOTES:

Anything you smoke is bad for your health. Herbal cigarettes, cannabis, peyote–all are harmful. Whenever you are smoking, you are inhaling tar and carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in your blood, so more smoke equals less oxygen. It’s a bit like closing up the garage door and starting up the car–just slower. Tar is particulate matter and will damage your lungs over time, too.  Both tar and carbon monoxide are toxic. With eCigarettes, you still get the nicotine, also a toxin, which is the primary ingredient that keeps you totally hooked.

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