Amongst the 3,000 or so chemicals found in cigarettes lurks nicotine, a strongly addictive substance. Within a few weeks of smoking most people will find their nervous system in need of nicotine to maintain a sensation of well-being. Whilst this is the main reason for addiction to cigarettes, it is also worth noting that tobacco, being a plant, has many compounds in it that the body utilizes. Examples are nickel and cobalt, both of which are necessary for the absorption and utilization of oxygen in the bloodstream. Therefore, when attempting to stop smoking not only does the nervous system recognize that it is missing something but the body may also actually move into deficiency because substances absorbed through the lung are taken in very rapidly and after a while saturate the body’s requirements therefore negating the use of the bowel. In other words, if you are getting what you need through the lungs the bowel does not need to work so hard and stops the chemical processes, such that if you stop smoking there may be a lag phase of several days before the bowel again begins to absorbs what you need. This combination of the nervous system recognizing that it is missing something and the bowel not absorbing quickly leads to many people eating more in an attempt to satisfy their cravings. The nervous system lives off glucose so the cravings tend to be for sweets or carbohydrates and therefore people put on weight. This factor is very relevant when it comes to helping people to stop.
Many different techniques have been employed over the years to help people stop smoking and most have an element of success. My view, and perhaps the truly holistic view, is to utilize whichever treatments may work and use them in combination. Determining whether somebody is psychologically or physically (or both) ‘hooked’ leads us to the suggested treatment course.
Psychological treatments Counselling
It is necessary to establish whether a smoker ‘wants’ to stop smoking or ‘wants to want’ to stop smoking. Most failed treatments occur because the individual has no real desire to stop. This must be confronted and a counsellor may be necessary to help decide which level the smoker is at. Counselling or other psychological measures must be utilized to move the smoker into the ‘wants to stop’ bracket.
There are two techniques of using hypnosis, which may be used individually or in combination. I have called them suggestive hypnosis and ‘part’ hypnosis.
Suggestive or suggestion hypnosis involves the individual being hypnotized into a deep state of relaxation and a suggestion that smoking is an uncomfortable or distasteful habit is placed in the subconscious. On returning from the deep relaxed state hopefully the smoker will dislike cigarettes. Allow three or four sessions of this type of hypnotherapy. Success in helping to stop smoking occurs in 10-30 per cent of patients.
Part hypnosis takes the smoker into a hypnotized state and, whilst there, the hypnotherapist will have a conversation with the subconscious ‘part’ of the person’s psyche that is encouraging the habit. Very often smoking starts at an age where acceptance into a group apparendy requires cigarette smoking. Not having a cigarette with the ‘gang’ may lead to being an outcast and the subconscious quickly correlates the nicotine buzz with being accepted and being socially adequate. It is a small step to find that the cigarette is your best friend and will indeed substitute for the group, especially if you did not like the group in the first place! Nicotine, by creating a sense of well-being, may mask sadness, guilt or fear, which is pushed into the subconscious and can be avoided by using the drug. Again, the underlying psychological pull needs to be established and dealt with before smoking can be taken away, otherwise it is similar to removing the crutch from an individual with an injured leg.
Physical therapies Supplementation therapy
This much underused technique is based on the principle that when we stop smoking the body craves some of the useful compounds that we may absorb through the cigarette smoke. High-dose supplementation may make the availability of these trace elements greater, therefore taking away some of the craving. More useful is the use of intravenous supplementation therapy, which bypasses the slower bowel absorption.
The use of detoxification diet techniques helps rid the body of the nicotine that will have setded in the nervous system and in fat stores. The quicker the nicotine is out of the system, the quicker the cravings diminish.
It is essential in nearly every case to introduce an exercise programme that helps to control breathing and increase oxygen consumption. Smoking reduces the lung capacity and the body’s oxygen utilization, which, when increased, will make the individual feel better. Techniques such as Qi Gong, yoga, Tai Chi and basic aerobic exercises are most beneficial.
Until recendy, techniques of breathing through yoga or Qi Gong were the best methods of retraining the lungs and bloodstream into accepting and enjoying oxygen without toxins. These techniques are still very beneficial if practised cor-recdy, but more recently a Russian doctor named a technique after himself. The Buteyko technique of breathing is, in fact, quite different from yoga techniques. It encourages a shallow breathing that alters the acid/base balance in the body and seems to remove the craving for cigarettes. This technique is becoming more widely available and, whilst the teaching requires several hours of attendance, early research shows it to be extremely beneficial.
The use of massage techniques, especially manual lymphatic drainage or Shiatsu, help in removing the nicotine levels that have settled into the tissues, which, in turn, help to maintain the cravings.
When used in conjunction with other therapies acupuncture is an extremely beneficial method of removing the craving. Even used by itself, it has proven effective. The acupuncture may be general or auricular (needles in specific parts of the ear).
Nicotine patches, chewing gum or implants are beneficial in non-responsive cases but it must be remembered that the nicotine is still being pulled into the system with all its neurological and addictive aspects. One is not dealing with the underlying addictive tendency, merely shifting it from one compound to another. Eventually the replacement stops and the cigarette craving, not having been dealt with, may well return.
Establish Wat you ‘want’ to stop smoking and not that you ‘want to want’ to stop smoking. If you do not ‘want to want’, then visit a counsellor or hypnotherapist initially.
Consider the macrobiotic diet .
Take in high levels of multiminerals, trace elements and vitamins for at least six weeks. Consider intravenous supplementation.
Use a detoxification diet or even consider a week or two under supervision on a health farm.
Establish, through reading or a visit to a qualified homeopath, your constitutional remedy and take this at high potency for one month.
Learn a Qi Gong, Tai Chi or yoga technique. Perform aerobic exercises two or three times a day for 10-15min. If you can find a Buteyko teacher, try this preferentially.
If the going is tough, visit a manual lymphatic drainage masseur or Shiatsu practitioner regularly.
Acupuncturists can treat you regularly or place a ‘stud’ needle in the ear for days at a time.
Avoid nicotine replacement if possible.