Smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your health. Despite the fact that smoking has been linked to respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, millions of people still light up everyday.
It has been scientifically-proven that nicotine creates a chemical dependency in the body after the first few days of smoking. (For complete study, click here). The good news is even if youâ€™ve been smoking for decades, you can quit with a combination of lifestyle techniques, dietary changes, and natural remedies.
Symptoms of Smokerâ€™s Withdrawal
The first signs of smokerâ€™s withdrawal begin as early as four hours after the last cigarette. They peak after 48 hours and dissipate within 8-12 weeks. Complete relief is felt within six months. Withdrawal symptoms are no joke. Thousands of people quit everyday only to last two weeks before, shaking and irritable, they give in and light up.
- Cold symptoms
As your lungs clear themselves of toxins, you may feel like youâ€™re coming down with a common cold. You may feel run-down, fatigued and experience bouts of heavy coughing accompanied by a sore throat.
Nicotine withdrawal causes anxiety and jitteriness. This can elevate your body temperature and cause profuse sweating, even in a temperate room.
Your body needs oxygen but when youâ€™ve quit smoking, your brain is getting more of it than it has in a long time. This sudden rush of oxygen can result in headaches that last for several days.
Shakiness and hand tremors are common smoking withdrawal symptoms and are caused by anxiety.
- Mood swings and violent outbursts
You may experience extreme mood swings and violent outbursts during the first few weeks youâ€™re nicotine-free. Any addictive substance (nicotine, alcohol, drugs, junk food) re-wires the way the brain functions and creates a chemical dependency. Your brain literally thinks it cannot live without this substance and the longer youâ€™re away from it, the more irritable youâ€™ll become.
- Gastrointestinal complaints
The nervous system and gastrointestinal system are very closely linked. If youâ€™ve been smoking for years or even decades, your brain and body are used to functioning on a certain chemicals. When these chemicals are no longer available, it has a direct impact on the way your brain talks to your body. This can result in cramping, indigestion, diarrhea or constipation. (For more on treating stomach problems naturally, click here).
- Depression as if in mourning
Nicotine interacts with the pleasure receptors on your brain causing a calm, relaxed feeling. When this feeling can no longer be obtained through the use of nicotine, you may feel yourself settling into a temporary depression as though youâ€™re mourning the loss of a loved one.
8 Ways to Ease Smoking Withdrawal Symptoms Naturally
- Get Support
If at all possible, quit with a friend. When you have someone to vent to about smokerâ€™s withdrawal it can help make dealing with it more bearable. Plus, you and your buddy will be there to keep each other honest.
- Distract Yourself
When cravings hit, distract yourself. A nicotine craving only lasts for 1-2 minutes before abating. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Play a video game. Check your social media accounts. Do whatever you have to do to keep yourself from lighting up.
- Keep Your Hands Busy
Part of the psychological addiction of nicotine is a desire to do something with your mouth and hands. When cravings hit, keep your hands and mouth busy by chewing on a straw, popping a piece of gum, sucking on a hard candy or twirling a pen in between your fingers. Try learning some easy coin tricks. You can keep your hands busy and impress friends!
- Get Some Exercise
Exercise is a great stress-reliever and youâ€™ll need it more than ever when youâ€™re trying to quit smoking. When cigarette cravings strike, go out for a walk, do some weight-lifting at home or hit the gym. Regular exercise boosts your natural feel-good hormones (serotonin), improves your blood circulation, and releases anxious feelings. Also, when you make your mind up to exercise, you put yourself in a healthy mindset where smoking no longer has a place in your life.
- Write Down Your Feelings
When youâ€™re going through nicotine withdrawal, a lot of different feelings will come up for you. Donâ€™t let them fester until you explode on an innocent bystander. Write down your feelings as they come up. Youâ€™ll keep your hands busy and find a healthy release for your anger and anxiety.
- Change Your Diet
You may love the taste of red meat, coffee, and alcohol but those savory-tasting foods encourage you to light up. Instead, dine on plenty of organic vegetables, fruits, poultry, and wild-caught fish. Not only do they make cigarettes taste terrible, theyâ€™ll help keep you in a healthy mind-set to make quitting easier.
- Drink More Water
It may seem silly to think that water can help ease smokerâ€™s withdrawal but it works. The more water you drink, the more toxins you flush from your body. The next time a craving strikes, slowly drink a full glass of water. This keeps your hand and mouth occupied and when you drink it slowly, gets you through the first two minutes when cravings are the worst.
- Use Natural Remedies
These natural remedies can help make quitting smoking easier.
- Vitamin C
Cigarette smoking drastically decreases your bodyâ€™s natural stores of vitamin C, resulting in irritability, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. Somehow this vitamin C deficiency increases nicotine cravings. Adding a high-dose level (250-500 milligrams) of vitamin C each day can eliminate the remaining cigarette toxins in your body and decrease nicotine cravings.
Lobelia, also called â€œIndian tobaccoâ€, helps relieve smoking withdrawal symptoms because it is so close to the nicotine family. Your body is fooled into believing it is getting nicotine; only lobelia is not addictive like cigarettes. Note: Lobelia is a potentially-toxic herb and is best used under the advice of a professional herbalist or naturopath.
- Arnica 30C
Arnica is a homeopathic remedy commonly used to treat muscle soreness and bruising. However, a homeopath discovered an interesting side effect: It also calms nicotine cravings. It works best in â€œwet doseâ€ meaning pellets should be dissolved in water and taken twice per day. You can talk with a qualified homeopath about the best way to take arnica and other homeopathic remedies. You may also choose to purchase arnica 30C online and dilute it in water to take twice per day.
Quitting smoking may be one of the most challenging things youâ€™ve ever done to improve your health but itâ€™s well worth it. Once youâ€™re free of nicotine and the withdrawal symptoms associated with it, youâ€™ll be amazed at the positive difference in your health!
Bio: Jaime A. Heidel is a professional freelance writer with a passion for natural health and wellness. Sheâ€™s written for dozens of health websites including AskDrMaxwell.com.