Tobacco - Nicotiana tabacum
It is July 27th and I am one year old! On July 25th, 2009 I smoked my last cigarette! I had been smoking since 1979, and had tried to quit smoking on several occasions; but to no avail. According to the American Cancer Society, one-year smoke free lessens my chances of another heart attack by 50%! Now that was a great reason to quit!
How did I do it? How was I finally able to put this drug behind me? Most of it was my state of mind. My Cardiologist told me 6 weeks after my heart attack that if I didn’t quit smoking that instant, that I did not need to ever waste his time again! Well…. that only made me walk away from his lousy bedside manner, and continue to smoke. In fact I probably smoked more for a while because of his poor judgment.
Three years later I had made up my mind to finally quit, my health was failing again (this time I could see it!) I was experiencing more times that I needed to take the Nitrostat for chest discomfort and my stamina had gone away, I couldn’t walk any distance at all. And I was getting scared. So I started to research my options.
I first checked out the plant Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) and was convinced it is not the devil many would have you believe it to be. It is used as medicine and the leaves are even edible! Although Nicotine is present in every part of the plant it is still not the worst culprit out there. The Cigarette industry puts approximately 599 chemicals into the finished product. And now by state law (in many places) they are adding even more chemicals to make the cigarrettes go out if you do not puff often enough! Some of the chemicals added are:
Benzene – a petrol additive
Formaldehyde – embalming fluid
Ammoinia – a cleansing agent, often found in dry cleaning fluids
Acetone – nail polish remover
Arsenic – used in rat poison
Hydrogen Cyanid – A poison used in gas chambers
There are over 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes. Between 51 and 69 of them are known to be carcinogenic.
Then I talked my husband into quitting with me. It has been proven that if you quit with someone else your chances of actually succeeding goes up significantly. You also need to enlist family and friends as back up. They need to stand with you, to take your phone calls at rough moments and help you through that time period.
We also chose to do over-the-phone counseling with the American Cancer Society. Some hospitals offer group counseling for quitting the cigarette addiction also. Many doctors suggest adding nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine patches, Nicotine Spray, Nicotine Inhalers, nicotine gum, or the Lozenges. There are other medicines that can be taken to help with the withdrawal process, such as Zyban or Chantix (both by prescription only).
We tried the patches, but found that in the heat of summer they were useless…they didn’t stick!
What I did do differently than anyone else I have spoken to is to put Aromatherapy to work. When I was feeling the urge, I would inhale the scent of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Essential Oil. Lavender Essential Oil is known for its ability to remove or reduce nervous tension and irritability. To try this you place one drop of the essential oil in the palm of one hand. Now rub your hands together to warm the oil, cup your hands, and place around your nose. Inhale deeply and relax!
Other natural ways to reduce the anxiety level may be the use of either, Valerian (Valeriana officinal) or St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). The Valerian acts as a calmative while going through withdrawal. St. John’s Wort works as an anti-anxiety and antidepressant, making it very useful during quitting for many people. Oat Straw (Avina sativa) is an excellent nerve tonic, soothing the central nervous system.
Another plant that can be useful in cutting the addiction is Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata). If it is taken in tincture form (and mixed with water) it causes the body to reject the nicotine when you inhale tobacco. It causes nausea and in severe cases even vomiting. Warning: People with heart disease, high blood pressure, tobacco sensitivity, paralysis, seizure disorder, shortness of breath, or who are recovering from shock should not take this herb.
Some products available for quitting that are made of herbs are:
Stop Smoking Tea by Health King (Licorice [Glycyrrhiza glabra], Peppermint [Mentha × piperita], Green Tea [Camellia sinensis] and jasmine flower [Jasminum sambac])
Smoke Free tablets by Boericke & Tafel (Caladium [Caladium Seguinum], Spurge Larel [Daphne Indica], Valerian [Valeriana Officinalis])
Crave-Rx Drops by Native Remedies (Wild Oats [Avina sativa], Malabar tamarind [Garcinia cambogia], Gotu Cola [Centella asiatica]
After one-year smoke free I have noticed great improvements in my overall health. I can now walk the dog without either chest pain or being winded! I can walk around the botanic garden I like to visit for hours at a time, with my only complaint being my legs are tired! I still get those urges for a cigarette, but they are getting fewer and farther apart!