Most people today are aware of the dangers of smoking and the adverse effect it has on their health. In the UK, cigarette smoking is the greatest single cause of illness and premature death. Still, smoking remains one of the most prevalent habits.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are about 1 billion smokers in the world today. More than 6 million people a year are killed by tobacco. 600,000 deaths are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. The death toll is rising and it is predicted to reach 30 million a year by 2030.
These numbers are frightening. Many people try to ditch the bad habit again and again. Often, their efforts are admirable and the journey is not without hurdles. Many health organizations offer smoking cessation programs that provide both the practical tools and motivation to stop smoking.
The video above is another good reminder of the ill effects of smoking. Scientists used pig’s lungs to demonstrate what smoking does to your respiratory system. After using 60 cigarettes, which is equivalent to only 3 packs of cigarettes, the lungs and windpipe changed significantly and became covered in black slime. This shows that it doesn’t take a lifetime of smoking to get affected – a short exposure can already make the damage.
But, there is good news. Giving up smoking can make a big difference to your health and reverse some of its ill effects. For example, if you stop smoking by the age of 35, your life expectancy is comparable to that of a non-smoker. And if you stop smoking before the age of 50, you decrease the risk of dying from smoking-related diseases (such as lung cancer) by half. It’s never too late to stop.
This is the timeline of benefits after you stop smoking:
- After 72 hours: breathing becomes easier and your bronchial tubes relax.
- After 1 month: skin appearance improves due to better blood circulation.
- After 3-9 months: lung function increases by up to 10%; wheezing and coughing decrease and breathing problems improve.
- After 1 year: your risk of a heart attack lowers by 50%.
- After 10 years: your risk of stroke lowers by 50%.
- After 15 years: your risk of a heart attack is comparable to a person who never smoked.
There are other benefits too: food and drinks smell and taste better; you get rid of the stale tobacco smell from your breath, clothes and hair; your finances improve and you feel better about yourself.
2 in 3 smokers want to stop with the bad habit and some struggle to leave it behind. Willpower and determination are needed. However, nicotine is an addictive substance and this makes the quitting process a lot harder.
Different methods work for different people. Some use nicotine replacement therapy, which involves gums, sprays, patches, tablets, lozenges, and inhalers. Others go for hypnotherapy. Some decide to change their lifestyle completely.
If you feel tempted to start smoking (again), you can always have another look at this video. Sometimes a shocking image can be the strongest deterrent.
If you are interested to stop smoking then you should try the following 5 natural ways to quit smoking naturally:
Natural Ways to Quit Smoking
These natural ways are suggested by Amy Goodrich, biologist, natural nutrition expert, and holistic health coach who loves living a natural, eco-friendly, and healthy lifestyle. Hopefully, these proven natural methods will help you to break through the addiction, ease withdrawal symptoms, and help you to quit smoking for good.
Acupuncture is an effective, drug-free way to stop your smoking habit. It calms your mind, enhances the levels of serotonin, helps you through withdrawal symptoms from the nicotine addiction (jitters, restlessness, and irritability), and has shown long term effects which makes it easier to permanently stop. The only downside is that these treatments are quite expensive.
Hypnotherapy is a psycho-therapeutic way of bringing you in a trance-like state to help you realize your true feelings about smoking, and the hypnotherapist will plant the seed in your mind that gives you negative feelings towards smoking and will help you to stay motivated.
However, scientific studies and patients contradict each other. Many experts disagree about the effectiveness, while many patients swear by it. Several studies found that it can be effective for a short while, but doesn’t work long term for most patients, while other studies claim it to be the other way around.
One study conducted at the San Francisco VA Medical Center found that hypnotherapy showed some great results for smokers who had a history of depression or struggled with other psychiatric conditions.
Although hypnosis has helped many people to quit smoking, science is still not sure about its effectiveness.
3. Herbal Remedies
Many herbs can help you to quit smoking, reduce the cravings for a cigarette, or ease withdrawal symptoms.
Black Or Cayenne Pepper
Black or cayenne pepper helps to control nicotine cravings. Add a couple of pinches to your water on a daily basis to benefit from its effect.
Chewing on licorice root can help you to quit smoking by satisfying the oral fixation of smoking. But don’t use it for more than 6 weeks as it may deplete potassium levels and raise blood pressure.
St. John’s Wort
This herb is mostly used to treat depression but has now shown some beneficial effect to help people fight their nicotine addiction in combination with smoking cessation counseling. St. John’s Wort raises your dopamine levels, just as nicotine, and gives you the same happy or excited feeling as smoking a cigarette. Make sure to use St. John’s Wort under the guidance of an herbalist or health care provider as there can be a few side effects.
Some studies show that Rhodiola may reduce withdrawal symptoms. It helps your body cope with stress, improves your mood, increases energy, and reduces the levels of cortisol. Although these studies look very promising, they were conducted on mice and never been repeated on humans.
Herbal cigarettes can help you to break through the oral addiction of smoking. Smokers are not only addicted to the nicotine, but to the habit of smoking itself. These cigarettes don’t contain nicotine and are made of mint, cinnamon, clover, licorice, passionflower, or lemongrass. They should be used as a short-term aid to break through your nicotine addiction, but you shouldn’t use them long term.
Self-massage can help you to curb nicotine cravings. Simply touching your ear or hand can calm your mind and keep cravings at bay. Studies found that people who gave themselves a message for about 2 minutes when they were in need of a smoke showed lower anxiety rates, improved their mood, had less withdrawal symptoms and smoked less.
5. Mindfulness meditation
People who practice mindfulness meditation are more likely to succeed in smoking cessation. They are encouraged to start living a healthier lifestyle. People who meditate are able to regulate their cravings, experience less withdrawal symptoms or stress, and are able to get their emotions under control.
These natural remedies are all proven to be effective in some way. However, it is important to remember that all of them will not cure the addiction by itself. Your will-power to quit and stay off them is equally important to fight the addiction once and for all.