Nicotine is one of the most powerfully addictive substances known to humanity. When a long-term smoker makes the final decision to quit, she may experience withdrawal symptoms as minor as irritability, or as severe as migraines and panic attacks.
When a nicotine craving hits, consider using a natural nicotine substitute to curb your withdrawal symptoms. While these cannot completely alleviate your desire to smoke, they may help to ease some of the discomforts while you overcome your addiction.
Caffeine is an excellent natural nicotine substitute, because it offers many of the “beneficial” effects attributed to nicotine. Like nicotine, caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, creates temporary feelings of euphoria, and helps to suppress the appetite. Although caffeine is fairly addictive, it is not associated with any significant health risks unless you have certain medical conditions or exceed more than ten cups of coffee per day.
Healthy, natural sources of caffeine include dark chocolate, green tea, black tea and coffee. All of these products offer weight-loss benefits and antioxidant support. They can help to prevent you from gaining weight as a result of smoking cessation, and they may help your body to recover from cellular damage related to tobacco use.
An effective herbal anxiety treatment, kava-kava acts in a manner similar to prescription anxiety treatments such as Xanax and Valium. This root-based medicinal herb originates in the South Pacific, where it has been historically used in both spiritual practices and as a treatment for anxiety disorders. Kava-kava is a mild sedative and helps to curb many symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, including anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, agitation and irritability.
Although kava-kava is certainly associated with fewer health risks than tobacco, this natural nicotine substitute is completely risk-free. Kava-kava has been linked to liver damage in a few individuals, particularly people with pre-existing liver disease. Use kava-kava only under a health care provider’s guidance if you have a history of liver disease, and do not take it regularly for longer than three months.
Also known as Indian tobacco or vomitweed, lobelia contains toxic alkaloids similar to those found in tobacco. Lobelia’s primary active constituent, lobeline, acts in a manner similar to nicotine, exerting both a stimulant effect and a mild sense of euphoria. Lobelia is roughly as toxic as tobacco, and, when it is ingested in large quantities, it can cause coma, seizures and death. Because of this, lobelia is not a suitable long-term substitute for nicotine, but it may help to enable smoking cessation in people struggling to kick the habit. Use lobelia only under a physician’s supervision, and not as a long-term nicotine replacement.
When used in aromatherapy, lavender is an ideal natural nicotine substitute. Lavender’s sweet, floral scent can be used as an incense or massage oil; the oil may also be blended and added to a hot bath or a diffusor. Lavender exerts a calming, mildly sedative effect and can curb episodes of anxiety or insomnia while you quit smoking. Now that you’ve put down the tobacco, your heightened sense of smell can make aromatherapy even more pleasurable.
If you aren’t successful the first time you quit smoking, try again. The more times you try, the more likely you are to succeed– and your body will thank you for your efforts.
National Institutes of Health- Nicotine Addiction and Withdrawal
National Institutes of Health- Caffeine in the Diet
National Institutes of Health- Kava