Congratulations for making the decision to quit smoking this year! It is not an easy feat, and while herbs don’t offer a magic solution for kicking the habit, they can certainly aid your effort to stop smoking once and for all. Especially if your reason for quitting is for increased health and well-being — along with saving thousands of dollars — then using the herbal remedies below to take a holistic, natural approach to chucking your habit is a great (and cheap) fit.
First, what does a holistic approach to quitting smoking even look like? Smokers usually have continued their habit for more reasons than one, and the interplay of these reasons is often what makes the addiction so strong. Many find tobacco to be a pleasing sedative, a soother of worry, an after-meal digestive aid, a social party-enhancer or simply another way to add some pleasure to daily life. For this reason, to quit smoking holistically, tackle more than just a nicotine addiction. Replace smoking with herbs and activities that address these issues by aiding in relaxation and reducing stress at the same time they help you detoxify and balance your mood.
Ease Stress. Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) and American ginseng (P. quinquefolius) can help smokers adapt to stress. In fact, ginseng is known as an adaptogen and has long been used as a tonic to help increase overall physical and mental performance. Results may include a shortening of reaction time to visual and auditory stimuli; increased lung respiration; increased alertness, power of concentration, and grasp of abstract concepts; and improvement in visual and motor coordination.
There are many ginseng products on the market, but nibbling on the end of whole roots to ingest 1 or 2 grams of the root per day will not only deliver a standard daily dose of ginseng, but will also provide an alternative to the habit of taking something to the mouth. Keep a piece of ginseng root in the car to nibble on when the urge strikes. And try these 5 more easy ways to reduce stress and unwind.
Detoxify. Smoking can overtax the body systems that filter and eliminate toxins. After you quit smoking, toxins are released from storage tissue such as fat and need to be eliminated from the body. One organ that processes toxins is the liver. Extracts made from the seeds of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) are a remarkable phytomedicine to support healthy liver function.
Studies show that standardized milk thistle seed preparations alter the liver’s outer cell structure to prevent toxic chemicals from entering liver cells. It also stimulates the liver’s capacity to regenerate new cells and spurs antioxidants specific to the liver to scavenge harmful oxygen radicals. Try these herbal teas throughout your cleansing process for additional healing support.
Blance Mood. Extracts of St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) have improved mood associated with mild to moderate forms of depression. This herb also may be useful for smoothing the emotional edge associated with giving up cigarettes. Participants who took St. John’s wort in studies experienced significant improvements in depressive mood indicators — feelings of sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, uselessness, fear, and difficult or disturbed sleep.
Until recently, most standardized St. John’s wort preparations contained 0.3 percent hypericin, believed to be the herb’s primary active constituent. However, recent evidence shows that another compound in St. John’s wort extracts, hyperforin, may be behind the herb’s antidepressant activity. And, thankfully, St. John’s wort is only one of nature’s mood boosters. Try these other herbal mood enhancers to find the one best for you.
So the challenge for aspiring quitters is not just to break nicotine’s chemical grip, but to replace its benefits with equally beneficial — but healthier — alternatives. Start the process by adopting a healthier lifestyle, but don’t feel like you must be good at everything all the time. Holding yourself to impossible standards will ruin any New Year’s resolution.
These aren’t the only natural remedies, either. Licorice, red clover and turmeric can help, too. And for the social aspect of smoking? Enlisting a friend to dump the habit is all part of a holistic health plan.
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