Quitting smoking was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It took many tries before I stayed smoke free for a significant length of time. I used a hypnotherapy session which I downloaded to my MP3 player and listened to it every night, which sort of created a mental shut off valve in my mind that stopped me from thinking about having that one cigarette, and it also relaxed me. I also combined it with exercise which further motivated me to stay smoke free to pursue my exercise goals, not to mental decrease my anxiety. I also found that drinking Kava Kava herbal tea on a regular basis helped curb the stress I experienced during the initial quitting phase. Whether it was a placebo effect or not, it helped a lot easing the anxiety and depression that came with the initial withdrawals. When I had it in it’s purest “root” form at a tea bar in Fremont, Seattle, WA, I almost felt intoxicated afterwords. Kava Kava, whether it be in pill or liquid form is what I would recommend to keep you calm after you quit, and it worked better for me better than St. John’s Wart. Also, I had an anxiety disorder and clinical depression on top of the cigarette addiction.
With pharmaceutical stop smoking drugs that can be addicting in themselves and possibly contain unwanted side effects, the interest in herbal remedies has increased. According to statistics on line, the results of alternative remedies has been more than promising – as high as an 80% success rate vs. cold turkey alone.
One of the most widely heralded herbs that I have discovered in my research is the Indian herb Lobelia, which has for centuries been used for cleansing the lungs. Also, there is historical evidence that it has been effective in treating convulsions and hyperactivity and can act as a muscle relaxant. Users today say it makes tobacco taste horrible and it does tend to calm one’s mind and give them the same feeling of calm they would normally get right after smoking.
If you like drinking hot liquids you could try the Brazilian Mimosa Hostilis herb in tea bag form which you can buy from most health food stores. It’s a derivative of tree bark and has been popular in treating anxiety and depression. In my experience, this is the biggest challenge in the all important first two weeks of being smoke free – not feeling like you’re going to break something and being able to function at work during the initial phase. Anything that can help your mood that is legal, natural, and not detrimental to your health is essential. Statistically, once you get past the two week period, your odds of success go way up.
Although your doctor would probably discourage this as a method of quitting smoking or as a safe alternative, there are non-tobacco cigarettes which are available in many smoke shops which do not contain nicotine or tar. One such brand is Herbal Ecstasy Cigarettes. However, the effects of their herbal ingredients are to my knowledge unaccounted for. With cigarettes, there are 100’s of toxins, and tar is just the on that sticks to your lungs. Nicotine, in itself, is not particularly harmful according to my doctor; just very addictive. Smoking anything is usually harmful in some way. However, this, alternative cigarette might be an option for those unwilling to to give up the habit of having something to do with your hands.
There is also a Chinese herb called CaoSu which can be made into a tea and has been known to reduce desire as it gives you a general sense of well being. Tea drinking in general is an excellent way to curb the habit since it satisfies your oral fixation and helps detoxify the body. I am still a tea drinker because of the success I’ve had with Kava Kava tea.
Chamomile is my favorite flavor of tea, especially with some honey mixed in. At Starbucks they call it calm tea, and I swear it actually works. Sometimes, I almost feel sleepy after drinking it. It has a much better flavor than the other “medicinal” herbal remedy teas and has the soothing affect that can offset your inevitable anxiety after your quit day. Also, it is known to help improve your skin, which is also a fringe benefit of quitting smoking.
If you don’t feel like ingesting anything, there is a natural alternative to the nicotine patch which contains many of the ingredients mentioned in this article, so you get a full herbal dose into the bloodstream at a steady level. Dermathol contains a potent herbal blend of Plantago, Catnip, Chamomile, Passion Flower, St. Johns Wort, Obelia, Chamomile, Passion Flower, and Licorice Root. After browsing product reviews, I found they were mostly positive. This patch has the right combination of herbs to reduce your cravings, cause cigarettes to taste badly, and calm anxiety and depression as well. It’s the most complete herbal stop smoking product I have seen so far.
Even dedicated smokers still complain of the smell. Well, why not replace cigarettes with Chinese herbal aroma therapy. This product claims to have a 90% success rate and claims to alter the stimuli in your thalamus gland which has been associated with addictive behavior. It contains the following ingredients: Chinese Ginseng, Cinnamon Bark, peppermint, Licorice, Prickly ash, Areca nut, Woo Long Tea, Polygala, Chrysanthemum, Pseudoginseng, Japanese Honeysuckle flower, Gastrodia elata, dried orange peels, Pheratima asiatica, Cordate Bouttuynia, Lophanthus rugosus, and some oils, a little bit of alchohol and some distilled water. REMEMBER: this is for sniffing purposes only. Do not ingest any of this.
From the company Alternative Health and Herbs Remedies comes a formula loaded with addiction curbing herbs in liquid form. You use an eye-dropper device and can be mixed with your favorite beverage. It purports to work with addictions to alcohol and food as well. It contains a full host of anti anxiety herbs such as Kava Kava and the every effective Valerian root which helps to induce sleep, passion flower, lobelia, scullcaps, and ironically hops and 12% alcohol. It receives a four star rating at most herbal e-commerce websites.
If you would simply like to pop a pill that has a combination of all the herbs you need, there’s an inexpensive product called Smoking Withdrawal that contains all of the recommended Indian herbs plus Quaker Button, and St. Ignatius Bean’ which are know for their detoxification and overall “healing” affect for ailments in general.
Remember, that these herbal remedies do not stop you from smoking, they only reduce the cravings. A deep desire to not smoke, a plan, and a support network can greatly help. I have found that focusing on what you don’t want, the cancer, emphysema, etc. does not help someone quit. In fact, any anxiety provoking thoughts only increases the urge to smoke more. Focus more on what you do want in relation to being smoke free: being younger looking, smelling better, saving money, having more energy, and living not just longer, but living better.