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It is estimated that cigarette smoking will cause about 450 million deaths worldwide in the next 50 years. In Canada, over 37,000 people die each year from tobacco use. It is a well-known fact that cigarette smoking and other forms of tobacco use are addictive. Nicotine is classified as the potent mood-altering drug in tobacco that causes an addiction similar to heroin or cocaine. However, the withdrawal symptoms that set in when you stop smoking make it challenging to quit. Symptoms of withdrawal include increased appetite and weight gain; irritability, restlessness, anxiety and fatigue. As a naturopathic doctor, I readily utilize natural remedies with patients for support during the withdrawal period.

Here are some supplements and herbs that may help you on your quest to nick the nicotine.

St. John’s Wort

St John’s Wort is a perennial shrub used widely by naturopathic doctors and herbalists to treat mild to moderate depression without the side effects commonly associated with pharmaceutical medications. The mood enhancing benefits of St. John’s Wort may quell the depression symptoms of tobacco withdrawal. Consult your health care provider before taking St. John’s Wort as it may interfere with certain medications such as the birth control pill.

B-Complex

A supplement containing a full complement of the B vitamins may support your efforts to quit smoking and replenish the B vitamins depleted after years of smoking. B vitamins are known to uplift mood, improve energy and support healthy sleep patterns. It is best to take B vitamins in the morning with food in order to take full advantage of the energy boosting benefits throughout the day.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are required for the proper development and optimal function of your brain cells. A deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to impaired cognitive function and mood disturbances such as depression and anxiety. Smoking decreases the concentration of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain which can lead to cell damage. One double blind placebo-controlled study revealed that DHA and EPA, two specific types of omega-3 fatty acids, significantly reduced nicotine cravings and the number of cigarettes smoked when supplemented on a daily basis.

Eleuthrococcus senticosus (Siberian Ginseng)

An herb native to Asia and Russia, Siberian Ginseng is known around the world as a potent adaptogen and has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. An adaptogen helps the body to adapt and endure daily stress and to combat fatigue. Eleuthrococcus is found in many herbal supplements marketed for stress and immune support and in single remedy formulas. Taken on regular basis, Eleuthrococcus may help smokers who are trying to quit handle stress more effectively, reducing the need to turn to cigarettes during stressful periods.

Lobelia Inflata

Lobelia which is also known as Indian Tobacco, is a non-addictive medicinal herb, commonly used for smoking cessation, although the views on its effectiveness are mixed. It is a natural sedative and soothing expectorant, helpful in the treatment of respiratory conditions such as bronchitis. Lobeline, the main active constituent of Lobelia, stimulates nicotine receptors in the brain and has a similar psychostimulant effect as nicotine while reducing the desire for cigarettes. Research continues to emerge to determine exactly how Lobelia can be used as an effective natural aid for smokers who wish to quit. In the meantime, it continues to be useful in practice to support lung health and lung tissue regeneration.

Trying to quit smoking can be an extremely difficult but rewarding task when you are successful. Although there are many supportive natural therapies at your disposal, seek the guidance of a qualified health care provider to avoid any interactions with your current medications and to establish the correct dosages of the remedies suggested.

Dr. Olivia Rose
About the Author

Dr. Olivia Rose graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences and in 2006, she graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Rose is the director of Fertility Acupuncture Services, a mobile service that brings acupuncture to couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination at Toronto fertility clinics. Her special areas of interest include infertility; children and teen health; stress management; weight loss; heart disease; digestive and immune health; skin rejuvenation and pain management. She is a birth doula and has additional training in cosmetic acupuncture and needle-less therapies for skin rejuvenation and joint pain.

Dr. Rose is a sought-after lecturer for community organizations; a freelance writer and mentor to new graduates. She has been interviewed by various media outlets including Global Toronto’s, “The Morning Show”, “News at Noon” and “News Hour”. In her free time, she unplugs at the spa and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, son and tea-cup Yorkie. For more information on Dr. Rose's practice and special events, please visit - www.oroseND.com