Lori Alton via NaturalHealth365 – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking kills 480,000 people in the United States annually. Yet – despite the danger, the increasing social stigma, and the financial burden of a nicotine habit – 38 million Americans continue to smoke. Why?
The frustrating truth is that cigarettes are highly addictive, and most smokers find quitting very difficult. Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t quit – or if you’ve tried and failed. But do resolve to try again. Many ex-smokers report that they didn’t stop smoking on their first try – or even their second or third. While there is no magic potion to stop smoking, research shows that certain herbs, such as green tea, contain compounds that may help boost your odds of success by “taking the edge off” troublesome withdrawal symptoms. Let’s look at four surprising natural interventions that may reduce nicotine cravings and help you stop smoking.
Use Green Tea as an Ally in Your Battle to Stop Smoking
Smoking is, first and foremost, a ritual, and you’ll want to create alternate ceremonies to replace it. Successful ex-smokers report that the ritual of preparing, lifting, and sipping a steaming cup of coffee or tea can be surprisingly helpful in taming the “nic fits.” Green tea is a particularly great choice. In one encouraging study, researchers reported that theanine, an amino acid in green tea, helped about half the participants cut down on cigarettes – while a third of them were able to stop smoking entirely.
Another “plus” for green tea is that it can help alleviate lung damage caused by smoking, with peer-reviewed research showing that regular green tea consumption can reduce the risk of both COPD and lung cancer in cigarette smokers. So when the urge to smoke feels overwhelming, brewing a cup of green tea is a wise move.
Sprinkle on the Black Pepper
If you’re battling an urge to smoke, it’s not a bad idea to use a liberal hand with the black pepper. Piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper, has mild mood-lifting effects that may help ease irritability and anxiety. In addition, piperine’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities allow it to go to work scavenging harmful free radicals created by smoking.
You can also try aromatherapy with black pepper essential oil, which has shown promise in inhibiting nicotine cravings. Natural health experts advise putting a drop or two of black pepper oil on a tissue and sniffing it when cravings strike. In one study, sniffing black pepper oil was shown to reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms and promote a calmer mood. Check with your integrative doctor before trying aromatherapy with black pepper oil.
Let Acupuncture Point You Toward Quitting
Acupuncture is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to address the imbalance of energy (or “chi”) that is believed to trigger illness. Multiple studies have supported the ability of acupuncture to help people stop smoking, especially when used along with counseling and education. Using tiny needles or low-level lasers, practitioners can stimulate acupuncture points, thereby helping to ease the physical and psychological symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
In a peer-reviewed analysis published in The American Journal of Medicine, the researchers reported that acupuncture helped nicotine withdrawal by decreasing adrenocorticotropic hormone – a hormone associated with stress – and promoting the release of mood-lifting endorphins. A trained acupuncturist can even help you find and activate acupuncture points so that you can help quench cravings at home. If you’re looking to free yourself from the deadly habit of smoking, acupuncture is certainly worth a try.
GABA: This Calming Amino Acid May Help You Stop Smoking
The amino acid known as GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid, functions as a neurotransmitter, inhibiting certain brain signals and decreasing the nervous system’s activity. When GABA attaches to receptors in the brain, it can create a calming and anxiety-reducing effect.
An intriguing review published in Neuropharmacology suggested that GABA could make cigarettes less appealing to smokers. The scientists credited GABA with inhibiting the pleasurable effects of nicotine and blocking nicotine-seeking behavior, providing strong evidence for its potential effectiveness in nicotine dependence. You can boost your dietary intake of GABA by eating fermented foods such as pickled cabbage (kimchi) and miso. GABA is also available as a supplement, but consult your integrative doctor before trying it.
Other useful herbs and supplements to help you stop smoking include lobelia, ginseng, catnip (it’s not just for cats), licorice root, lemon water, vitamin C, and valerian. As always, check with your trusted integrative doctor before adding any supplements to your routine. Finally, don’t forget natural stress-relief techniques, such as yoga, biofeedback, meditation, exercise, hypnotherapy, and deep breathing. These calming practices can be great tools in your campaign to stop smoking.
Here’s hoping that these natural techniques help you embark on a new, smoke-free journey. A world of rewards – from cleaner-smelling clothes to lower cancer risk to a fatter wallet – waits at the other end. You can do this, start today!
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