Natural Ways to Quit Smoking

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Breaking a cigarette
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Are you sick of failed attempts to quit smoking? If popular smoking cessation aids such as Chantix, Zyban and Nicorette haven't worked or aren't what you're looking for when you want to quit smoking, you may be interested in trying natural ways to kick the habit. Natural smoking cessation aids can help you quit without many of the unpleasant side effects you may experience from medications or nicotine gum. However, you should still talk with your physician about any alternative methods to quite smoking before you begin the your next battle agains nicotine dependence.

Train Your Mind to Overcome Nicotine Dependence

Psychological dependence on nicotine can be just as cumbersome as physical dependency. Smokers think they need cigarettes to get through the day. It's a coping mechanism to deal with stressful events, and it also can be recreational. In either case, smoking is a habit. Breaking your habit involves training your mind to do other things to deal with situations instead of using nicotine.

Hypnosis

Hypnosis allows individuals to change their way of thinking on a subconscious level. Hypnosis for smoking cessation has a success rate of 66 percent, according to Harvard researchers. It's important that you find a professional who specializes in hypnosis to achieve the full effects of this natural way to quit smoking.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT for Smoking Cessation book

Changing your way of thinking can change your behaviors. This is the basic premise of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). A therapist can help you understand why you started smoking, why you have continued to smoke, and help you learn how to change your thoughts that lead to lighting up a cigarette.

Some of the thoughts that a therapist may uncover in CBT are:

  • I am so stressed; I just can't take it anymore. Let me just have a smoke and I will feel so much better.
  • Smoking is recreational for me; I like to do it because it gives me something to do.
  • Most of my friends smoke; if I quit, they may not want to hang out with me anymore.
  • Smoking gives me an excuse to take a break from work or life.

Your therapist will then take these thoughts and help you challenge them. For example, he may ask you if you have some other ways you can cope with stress? If you don't have other coping strategies, he will teach you some to try out. If smoking is recreational for you, your therapist may ask you to come up with some other ways to spend your time. If your friends only like you because you are hanging out with them while smoking, are they really good friends?

CBT does take some time and work from you. However, if you are willing and committed, it can be an effective form of natural smoking cessation.

Don't Lose Your Determination

If hypnosis and CBT don't sound like something you are interested in, you may find it effective to try some do-it-yourself methods.

  • Set a date that you will stop smoking. This can be cold-turkey, or you can decrease the number of cigarettes you smoke over the course of a week or two, and then stop smoking completely on a certain day.
  • Support is important when quitting. Ask your family and friends to help you through the difficult times. This support may include calling to talk or meeting somewhere face-to-face. The key is to have someone with you when you are feeling weak and crave a cigarette.
  • Identify your triggers for wanting a cigarette and avoid them or do things to lower your reaction to those triggers. For example, if you tend to smoke when you feel overwhelmed, think of some ways that can help you feel less stressed. Practice time management, ask for breaks from your employer or decide to drop some of your responsibilities to lighten your load.
  • Exercise your cravings away. In her article Exercise Away the Urge to Smoke, Barbara Robb suggests that exercising can help you deal with the psychological dependence you have on nicotine, as well as your physical dependence. She reports that withdrawal symptoms can decrease during physical activity and remain diminished for as long as 50 minutes after exercising.

Dealing with Physical Dependence on Nicotine

As previously mentioned, exercise is a good way to quit smoking while improving your stress levels and overall health. However, there are also other natural ways you can beat the withdrawal symptoms of nicotine.

Herbs

Your body has become accustomed to functioning with nicotine. When you stop providing your body with this drug, your body thinks there is something wrong and tells you this by making you feel sick. To help relieve some of these reactions, you can try herbal remedies such as :

  • Lobelia
  • St. John's wart
  • Black cohosh
  • Blue vervain
  • Catnip
  • Hyssop
  • Korean ginseng
  • Motherwort
  • Oat straw or oat seed
  • Peppermint
  • Skullcap
  • Slippery elm
  • Valerian

An herbal patch called Zero Nicotine is available and promises to help you quit smoking in 30 days, but the effectiveness of this product isn't well documented.

Remember that herbal remedies can interact with prescription medication, as well as other herbs. They can also cause serious side effects or allergic reactions. An herbalist can offer advice on how to use these herbs to help you quit smoking, but you should still consult your doctor before starting any herbal remedy regimen.

Titrate Off Nicotine

Some people find it effective to titrate themselves off the nictoine to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. This means decreasing the amount smoked each day, every couple days or each week. It's the dramatic decrease or cessation of the drug that causes unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. So if you are able to still give your body what it thinks it needs (just at decreasing doses), it won't realize that you are weaning yourself off nicotine.

Combine Natural Ways to Stop Smoking

To quit smoking naturally, the best route is to incorporate psychological and physical natural smoking cessation methods. If you only focus on one aspect of your dependence, the other may overwhelm you and affect your ability to quit. A two-pronged approach ensures that you address both aspects of your dependence on nicotine, and this is the surest path to success.

Natural Ways to Quit Smoking