(NaturalNews) Despite all the anti-smoking campaigns, cigarette taxes, novel smoking alternatives, and even smoking bans in some areas, millions of people still smoke cigarettes both out of habit and for pleasure. Sadly, many of these people, if asked, would say they do not actually like smoking, but feel as though they are hopelessly addicted with no effective way to quit. But if you or someone you know is serious about quitting smoking, there is hope apart from trying to quit cold turkey, wearing nicotine patches, and taking anti-smoking drugs. Here are five natural approaches to kicking the smoking habit for good:
1) Lobelia. Also known as "Indian tobacco," Lobelia inflata has long been used as a folk remedy to treat asthma and certain bronchial disorders. In fact, American Indians actually smoked lobelia in pipes for the purpose of healing these and other respiratory conditions. But lobelia can also be taken in the form of a tincture or supplement to discourage the smoking habit. Lobelia contains 14 unique alkaloids including lobeline, which has been shown to stimulate the nerve cells that would normally respond to nicotine. This mode of action not only reduces nicotine cravings, but also minimizes the effect of nicotine when it is smoked, which has helped many people kick the habit.
"[U]nlike nicotine, which is high addictive, lobeline does not appear to be addictive," explains one website about the anti-smoking benefits of lobelia. "Because lobeline partially mimics nicotine, but in a steady, all-the-time way, not as a response to lighting a cigarette, and also partially blocks the effects of real nicotine, the act of lighting up isn't as 'rewarding' as before, and the addiction itself is weakened. Both of these effects make it easier to quit smoking."
2) Acupuncture. Because it helps spur the production of serotonin in the brain, acupuncture can also help smokers kick the habit naturally. The reason for this is that when a person suddenly quits smoking, brain levels of serotonin decrease sharply, leading to intense withdrawal symptoms. A 2002 review published in the American Journal of Public Health found that acupuncture combined with education on smoking cessation is particularly effective at helping smokers quit.
Based on the study's findings, 40 percent of smokers who participate in a five-days-a-week acupuncture regimen for four weeks, and who take a corresponding educational course on quitting smoking, quit smoking for good. A slightly higher amount, 53 percent, effectively reduce the amount and frequency of cigarettes smoked, according to the data. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447300/)
3) Fruits and vegetables. For some people, simply eating more fruits and vegetables is the key to breaking the smoking habit. Researchers from the University of Buffalo in New York found that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables are three times more likely than those who eat the least to effectively abstain from smoking. This same group is also far less likely to suffer from withdrawal symptoms after quitting.
"Unlike meats, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages, fruits and vegetables don't enhance and may even worsen the taste of tobacco," wrote Mike Barrett from NaturalSociety.com about one of the potential reasons why fruits and vegetables deter smoking. "Engaging in a healthier lifestyle could consciously and subconsciously cause smokers to further shift out of an unhealthy lifestyle involving smoking." (http://naturalsociety.com/quit-smoking-naturally-fruit-vegetables/)
4) Valerian. A popular natural remedy for easing anxiety and promoting restful sleep, valerian may also help reduce nicotine cravings that are motivated by stress and anxiety. Though the precise mode of action is not fully understood, supplementing with valerian is believed to interact with gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain, which produces a calming, sedative effect. Particularly when combined with other anti-smoking herbs like oat straw (Avena sativa), St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum), and skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), valerian taken in either tea or supplement form can help significantly diminish the desire for nicotine, effectively killing the craving.
"Valerian is a powerful herb of choice that may be used when quitting smoking," explains the Australia-based Natural Therapy Pages. "It relieves muscle tension, insomnia, and feelings of stress and anxiety." (http://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au)
5) Exercise. Sometimes all it takes for some people to quit the smoking habit is to simply move their bodies more. A 2009 study out of the University of Exeter in the U.K. found that the brain changes that occur in response to physical activity can actually help reduce cigarette cravings. Published in the journal Psychopharmacology, this particular study revealed that exercise appears to help boost dopamine levels in the brain, which curtails the desire a smoker would normally have for a cigarette.
"Our findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that exercise can help people give up smoking," explained Kate Janse Van Rensburg, lead author of the study. "This strengthens the argument that moderate exercise could be a viable alternative to many of the pharmaceutical products, such as nicotine patches, for people who want to give up smoking. A 10 or 15 minute walk, jog or cycle when times get tough could help a smoker kick the habit." (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090210092738.htm)