Holistic Guide to Quitting Smoking
Are you one of the millions of Americans who wish they could quit smoking but find it nearly impossible to do? Perhaps you have a partner who is a non smoker and finds the habit distasteful. You may have children and loved ones who live with you and you worry about their health and hope that they won’t eventually pick the habit up.
So many of us share your feelings. Smoking is deeply rooted in our culture and has always been attached to our rites of passage into adulthood. It is a hard temptation to resist but once started even harder to quit smoking.
The History Of Smoking In America
America was founded on the tobacco industry. Tobacco was widely used by native populations for ceremonial purposes. In concentrated amounts it can be a hallucinogen. In native traditions tobacco had a function in communication with spirits and was used during meetings within the tribe or with outsiders. It was a common trade item and grew readily in the Americas. When europeans began exploring the Americas they were introduced to tobacco and it quickly gained popularity in European nations.
A Profitable Addiction
When America began to colonize many farmers recognized the value of growing tobacco. It was indigenous to the Americas and a very hardy plant. It grew easily and was increasing in popularity and recreational use. Tobacco was one of the first cash crops and being a tobacco farmer was a highly profitable and desirable vocation to any european looking to start a new life and build a personal empire of wealth. Because settlers and Europeans smoked tobacco habitually instead of ritually, they quickly became addicted. This mass addiction insured tobacco would continue to be a main source of income for many generations to come.
Smoking A Commercialized Industry
In the beginning of our history with tobacco there were no health concerns associated with smoking. The smoking industries focus was trying to sway the public to purchase their particular brand of tobacco. In the early days of advertisement tobacco companies would seek out endorsements from popular actors and actresses, doctors and even used children. After all keeping people smoking was relatively easy. Adding new consumers of the next generations was important to maintaining and growing tobacco sales.
In the 1920’s doctors began to find a correlation between smoking and lung cancer. Over the years that correlation grew into causation and the public became aware of the dangers of smoking. It was no longer a safe, all American pastime. The public was concerned. So to was the tobacco industry who saw this as a devastating blow to the tobacco economy. Despite the growing information about health risks many people did continue to smoke. The addictive qualities of tobacco ensured that. The tobacco industry increased advertising and did whatever they could to sway the populace to keep smoking.
In the 1970’s tobacco ads were banned from television and radio. In response the tobacco companies placed full page magazine adverts in shining color and utilized billboards. However there was a growing movement against smoking and governmental health agencies pushed back by putting out anti smoking ads and adding the surgeon's general warning directly on tobacco packaging. Smokers were beginning to quit and sales started to take a hit. What was the tobacco industry going to do if they couldn’t advertise?
Hollywood – The Ultimate Glamorization Of Tobacco
Like everyone else in America, I watch a lot of television and movies. Not to long ago I started noticing just how much smoking takes place in movies. Dramatic movies will show a beautiful actress or handsome actor reach a shaking had for a cigarette directly after some imaginary crisis has transpired in the movie. Always there is a close up of that first inhale followed by a slow breath out and a billowing cloud of smoke. We can almost feel the relaxation of the moment.
I cannot remember what movie I was watching but I do recall that the actors were all contemporary and I thought to myself, I know that actor/actress does not smoke in real life. I wondered how they got all these non smokers to smoke in these television shows. It seemed really contrary to me that hollywood, ever obsessed with health and beauty would continue to portray people smoking.
As it turns out the tobacco industry pays filmmakers to include their products in movies. In fact smoking in movies and television has been on the increase since the 90s even as smoking in the general public has seen a steady decrease.
Can You Imagine A Better Tool For Reaching Americans Of All Ages?
Not only do movies make perfect advertisements, they even show you what situations will maximize smoking pleasure! Next time you are watching tv or your favorite movie pay attention. What is that movie trying to convey to you about smoking and even more importantly. Is it working?
The Harmful Effects Of Smoking
The harmful effects of smoking are numerous and affect almost every system in the body.
- Blood vessel damage
- Heart damage
- Increased risk of osteoporosis
- Lowers our immune system making us susceptible to illness and infection
- Lung damage
All the damage done to organs and systems in the body lead to increased potential for the diseases of those organs and systems.
Blood vessel and heart damage makes you more susceptible to Coronary heart disease and Cardiovascular diseases.
Because smoking causes loss of bone density it actually helps the onset of osteoporosis in both men and women.
As it lowers our immunity is further puts us at risk to infection and slows the rate in which we recover and heal.
Each and every inhalation of smoke scars our lungs and damages them.
Smoking causes the following forms of lung disease
The Importance Of Quitting
Knowing the harmful effects and addictive qualities of smoking why wouldn’t we want to quit? I think there are very few Americans out there who do not understand the harmful nature of smoking. So why do they still do it? Some people don’t think about the future that much.
They figure if it's not harming them now they shouldn’t worry about it but time steadily marches forward and there will come a day when the harmful effects of smoking impact their lives. Of course the real reason people still smoke is because they are addicted. Tobacco is an extremely difficult habit to break but the benefits of breaking it are incredible.
Your lung and heart health will see immediate effects, you will feel better, have more energy and it is likely your family and friends will find you more pleasant to be around once of effects of withdrawal are over.
Quit Smoking With Supplements
The great news is that you do not have to go cold turkey and suffer through the hardship of quitting. There are many supplements that can help aid the process and make it a great deal easier to do. Smoking is a habitual addiction. Changing your routine to include supplements can help ease the process of quitting.
This is because smoking causes a reaction in your brain every time you light up a cigarette. The entire process, from craving a cigarette to smoking and feeling that satisfaction when the addiction is appeased, causes the production of dopamine. This gives your brain that happy, hazy feeling.
It’s not just that your body craves the nicotine and you are happy to smoke. Rather, the receptors of your brain have a specific shape. Neurotransmitters have natural chemicals that are designed to fit, thus causing a desired reaction in the brain. It just so happens that nicotine has a similar shape and activity to something called acetylcholine, a naturally occurring compound in your body. Acetylcholine is responsible for the production of other neurotransmitters. Since nicotine is the same shape and can do the same functions in the human body, it also encourages dopamine production.
Additionally, nicotine attaches to the core of your limbic system. It links to the neurons, which then causes a deluge of dopamine. This is why for many, smoking is so pleasurable. Not only are people addicted to the drug, but they actually enjoy the smoking process.
Supplements that you can take to help you to kick the smoking habit also affect the chemicals in your brain. Some internal compounds, that can also be taken as quitting smoking supplements are depleted through smoking. By taking them, you can replace them the disruption in the body as you quit, thus making the process easier. Others affect areas of the brain, such as dopamine production, and can help to decrease the damage that has been done while you were smoking.
Supplements That Aid In The Cessation Of Smoking
This supplement stimulates the production of the reward chemical serotonin in the brain. When you quit smoking it can help alleviate smoking withdrawal. 5-HTP is an incredibly useful tool in the beginning when you are suffering the most. If you are serious about ending your addiction, this supplement can assist you in doing so.
Acupuncture has been used in the orient for thousands of years to treat everything from a common cold to advanced disease. While there is not a lot of evidence proving the effectiveness of acupuncture, it has been used with success as a tool to help the cessation of smoking. Many people swear by it and say the effects are immediate.
GABA is a chemical produced by your central nervous system. GABA can interrupt the pleasure associated with smoking in the brain making it less fulfilling when you smoke. If you reach for a cigarette while taking the supplement GABA you just will not get the physiological reward that you are used to getting. Making it easier to put that cigarette out and walk away.
We suffer the most painful effects of withdrawal while there are still traces of nicotine in our system. Green Tea helps flush the system out and works like a natural cleanse. Speeding up the removal of nicotine from your system will speed up the recovery from withdrawal. It has the added benefit of being a reach for item. Something you can do when you crave a cigarette. Instead of reaching for that pack, reach for a packet of tea, boil some water and then let the tea help get you through that moment while it does it’s job.
L-Tryptophan is another supplement that helps curb the effects of withdrawal. It works especially well when taken in conjunction with 5-HTP and can greatly assist you in your quest to quit smoking.
If you really do not want to quit cold turkey you can try to combat smoking with nicotine gum. This works in two ways. It stops you from actually smoking because it delivers nicotine in gum form rather than its usual combustible form, so it helps kick the smoking habit. It also delivers the nicotine your system is craving. In order to effectively quit you must steadily decrease the amount of nicotine gum you are chewing until you reach 0. This is a more gradual process, it takes much longer and requires a great deal of determination and self control.
There’s More Than One Way… Find What’s Right For You
In addition to all supplements listed above there are many numerous ways to help you quit smoking, from hypnosis to stop smoking support groups. With the right help anyone can quit.
Here are a few additional ways to increase your chances for success when attempting to quit smoking:
- Avoid routines that once involved smoking
- Consider supplements to quit smoking
- Get active – this can decrease cravings
- Find an ex smoking buddy, similar to an AA sponsor who can help talk you down when you feel you just can't take it anymore
- Reward yourself for milestones
- Utilize your family and friends to assist you
Loving Yourself Enough To Quit
We all know that smoking is deadly. The amount of research and the massive compilation of medical evidence through the decades is indisputable. We know that smoking is not only a harmful habit, it is also a repugnant practice that isolates us from those who have either already quit or never started in the first place.
With all the benefits versus all the harmful factors we truly know the best thing for our personal health is to quit smoking. Nevertheless quitting is hard. Speak to your healthcare physician about your addiction and let them help you form an action plan to tackle your addiction head on.