Herbs and Alternative Remedies to Quit Smoking

Everyone knows about the dangers of smoking. Unless you yourself are a smoker, most people don’t realize how difficult a habit it can be to break. In addition to the addictive properties of cigarettes, over time smoking becomes a part of the daily routine. While Chantix is the newest, and increasingly popular smoking cessation medication, it is a prescription drug, and does have side effects. My mother experienced serious depression and fatigue while on the medication, but she was able to quit smoking after 40 years.

Among other smoking cessation aids, there are nicotine patches, nicotine gums, nicotine inhalers, and nicotine lozenges. These products do not actually alleviate the craving for nicotine, and the side effects range from dizziness to vomiting. Some people become as addicted to the nicotine replacements as they were to smoking. Using these products in conjunction with cigarettes can cause a nicotine overdose.

Acupuncture, a Chinese medical practice that has been around for thousands of years, uses needles of various lengths placed at specific points in the skin to treat ailments or addictions. Acupuncture is often used with acupressure and is believed by many to reduce withdrawal symptoms. If you decide to try this method, make sure that your acupuncturist is a member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture. Remember that there is no supporting scientific evidence that acupuncture will help you to stop smoking.

Aromatherapy is treatment using scents. This holistic approach encourages using essential oils to help alleviate some of the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, such as irritability, nervousness, and fatigue.

Lobelia is an herb that is said to produce effects similar to that of nicotine on the central nervous system, without the risk of addiction. Lobelia inflata is used in many alternative smoking cessation aids. It has been shown that toxicity has occurred and the risk may be increased when combined with nicotine.

Laser Therapy, a kind of acupuncture without needles, uses a biostimulation laser to reduce the nicotine craving. Dr. Sidney Wolfe, Director of Public Citizen’s Health Group, has said that laser therapy is a fraudulent practice, and points out that the FDA has not approved the use of these lasers for smoking cessation.

The aromatherapy inhaler, uses a combination of herbs, extracts, and plants to reduce the craving for nicotine. Used whenever the urge to smoke strikes, some of the ingredients of the inhaler can be harmful. Areca nut, Chinese ginseng, chrysanthemum, and licorice are stimulants or expectorants that can cause flushing, sweating, and nervousness. This herbal remedy should be discussed with a pharmacist prior to its use because some of the ingredients may interact with prescription medications that you may be taking.

Hypnotherapy is used as a relearning tool. It is said to alter the subconscious habit. When considering a hypnotherapist, make sure that he/she is certified by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners, the National Guild of Hypnotists, or the Hypnotists Union Local 472. Also, check to see that the school where the hypnotist received training is licensed.

Habit Substitution is finding something else occupy your hands. Some people hold pencils, straws, or carrots to replace the cigarette. Instead of smoking, many people find chewing gum or eating candy can help curb the urge to smoke. Instead of smoke breaks, habit substitution practitioners suggest 5 minutes of deep breathing or meditation. The only problem that I see with this method is added caloric intake. I suggest using sugar and fat free gums and candies.

The smoke aversion technique is used to make the thought of smoking unpleasant or distasteful. Sometimes used in conjunction with hypnotherapy, smokers are asked to smoke cigarettes one after another until they become ill. Nicotine poisoning can be a serious consequence of this type of aversion therapy.

Shock Therapy is another form of aversion therapy. It is a self administered electric shock, delivered when a smoker considers lighting up. According to Mark Dombeck, PhD., smoke aversion therapy can be dangerous and painful, and it also carries the potential for abuse.

Before trying any alternative smoking cessation techniques or remedies, always consult a physician. As most herbal remedies are not regulated by the FDA, all possible counter indications and side effects are not known.