It’s hard to believe that there was a time in history, not too long ago, when smoking was actually considered “healthy.” It didn’t become especially stigmatized until the 1960s, when the United States Surgeon General suggested a link between smoking and cancer, which ultimately lead to bans on advertising and the requirement of warning labels.
The World Health Organization (WHO) today reports that approximately six million lives are taken by tobacco each year, with 600,000 deaths from second hand exposure. Despite the knowledge that we have acquired over the last several decades, smoking continues to remain a large part of our society.
If you are ready to finally take the leap and kick the habit for good, experts recommend that you do it all at once, “cold-turkey,” rather than gradually weaning off of cigarettes. The reasoning is that it’s better to go through a tough few days rather than drag it on for weeks or months. The first three days are typically the hardest and by the end of the fifth day the desire for a cigarette has waned significantly. If you can make it to day ten you have hurdled the biggest goal and are on your way to a smoke free life. By this point your risk for a heart attack has already begun to drop and your lung function is already beginning to improve. Not to mention all that extra cash in your pocket.
Rather than spending money on expensive medications and patches, some of the most effective methods to help you quit smoking can be found right in your own home. While there is no magical cure, here are some natural and safe tips to help you conquer your journey of addiction and reclaim your body.
1. Water: Water has the amazing ability to help the body heal itself. Nicotine is an extremely addictive toxin that permeates throughout your tissues, making it difficult to get out of your body. Drinking ample amounts of water throughout the day helps to detoxify your body. The more you drink, the more nicotine will be excreted from your body. Drink one or two glasses of warm water when you wake up, and then another two glasses between each meal.
2. Walk After Meals: Avoid sitting after a meal when the urge to have a cigarette is often the greatest. Instead, go for a walk or breathe deeply for 15 minutes following a meal.
3. Meditation: The psychological stress that a smoker undergoes during the first few weeks of nicotine withdrawal often drives smokers to the breaking point. Mindful meditation has been shown to aid people in quitting smoking by regulating cravings, withdrawal symptoms, stress, and the negative emotions associated with kicking the habit. People who practice meditation have a greater success rate in smoking cessation than their counterparts. Meditation encourages an overall healthier life style, while also helping to regulate cravings and control emotions.
4. Get Plenty of Rest: When you are exhausted your frayed nerves will increase your desire for a cigarette. Get more rest than usual in the first few days and weeks of quitting. Eating your meals and going to bed at a regular time each day will also help to regulate your body.
5. Take Your Vitamins: In order to fight the toxins in your body, a multivitamin will help your body to repair itself, providing it with the essential nutrients needed to expel toxins.
6. Ginger: Nausea is a common side effect to quitting smoking. To combat this, try using ginger to calm your stomach. Fresh ginger, tablets, capsules or as a tea are all effective forms.
7. Lime: Suck a lime! Lime (the fruit) is a cheap, non-toxic and easily accessible alternative to nicotine gum. Limes also help to alkalinize the tissues of smokers, which are normally more acidic than non-smokers. Try this lemon-lime juice recipe to help curb the craving.
1 tsp sugar
1 cup water
Combine the squeezed juice from the lime and lemons in a glass. Add the water and sugar and stir well. Serve over ice and enjoy.
8. Essential Oils: Numerous studies have documented the effects of essential oils on nicotine cravings. Many essential oils have been shown to help decrease cravings and treat symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal, such as irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, and lack of concentration. The best oils to aid in smoking cessation are: angelica, clove, cinnamon, grapefruit, peppermint, black pepper, and ylang ylang. A combination of peppermint and lavender help to reduce headaches and control appetite. Try making this special blend at home to help ease nerves, regulate cravings and balance your mood:
5 drops clove, 5 drops orange, lemon or lime, 5 drops chamomile, 5 drops helichrysum, 10 drops lavender, 10 drops marjoram, and 15 drops grapefruit.
An electric diffuser or candle can be used to inhale oils, or you can simply massage the oil on the back of your neck or chest. An effective way to use essential oils on the go is with a portable inhaler, such as the Aromahaler. It can be easily carried in your purse or pocket to use when cravings strike. When you feel the urge to light up, simply inhale deeply. Soaking toothpicks in essential oils and then chewing on them also help to combat oral fixations.
9. Acupuncture: Acupuncture therapy has been shown to be very effective in providing relief from symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal. This can be especially helpful during the first week when symptom intensity is at its peak.
10. Hypnotherapy: Imagery, visualization, and deep breathing are common tools in hypnotherapy, a form of psychotherapy. Hypnotherapy has been an effective therapy for some people in search of letting go of bad habits. Hypnotherapists put the patient in a sort of trance and through talking they transmit to your subconscious the motivation for quitting.
11. Massage: Self-massage can help to curb cravings, lower anxiety rates, and improve your mood. The good news is that you don’t need to spend lots of money on a professional massage. Something as simple as touching your ear or hand can calm your nerves and hinder cravings.
12. Exercise: It’s not news that exercise is a quick and inexpensive fix for feeling down in the dumps. Even short, light-intensity exercise can help to curb cravings and ease symptoms of withdrawal. Next time you are feeling the urge to light up, lace up. Exercise will also help with potential weight gain commonly associated with quitting smoking.
13. Ginseng: To combat cravings try adding about a spoonful of ginseng powder to your juices, cereal, oatmeal, or soup in the morning to help fight off cravings throughout the day. If you are already taking a multivitamin, check your bottle and see if you are getting your daily doses of all essential vitamins.
14. St. John’s Wort: This herb is used to raise your dopamine levels, just as nicotine does, giving you the same happy feeling smokers get from a cigarette. Be sure to use this herb under the guidance of a health care professional or herbalist, as there may be side effects.
15. Licorice: Many people find it difficult to quit smoking because of the oral fixation associated with smoking. Chewing on licorice root can help satisfy the oral fixation. Use this as a temporary fix. Using it longer than six weeks can affect potassium and blood pressure levels so check with your doctor.
Want to know what the best days to quit smoking are, according to the Farmers’ Almanac? Check out the calendar here.