New Year, New Lungs
The Best thing you can do for yourself and your family...become a non-smoker
It’s the beginning of the year. A new start, time to make good on promises to get yourself healthy. For many, that begins with giving up smoking. Don’t think of it as giving anything up. Think of what you are gaining…the ability to breathe and detoxify your lungs, improved ease of daily activities, time to spend with your family, improved health and health of those around you, and the satisfaction of knowing you did something for yourself.
Smoking has been around for hundreds of years but smoking today’s cigarettes is different. The regularly inhaled smoke contains thousands of toxic chemicals including formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic and a variety of others not to mention dangerous pesticides.
Nicotine is the substance we hear about that causes the biggest obstacle to quitting…addiction. Is it a physical or mental addiction, or both? Most smokers who really want to quit need to address both sides of the addiction coin. There are steps that will help any smoker begin to address the psychological aspect of their addiction and help guide the way to becoming smoke-free naturally.
What happens to Quitters….
Quitting smoking has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages. The health benefits far exceed any risks the average 5 lb weight gain may cause or any adverse psychological effects that may follow quitting.
Here’s what happens after smokers quit for the indicated time:
*20 minutes: Blood pressure, pulse and body temperature return to normal. *8 hours: Carbon monoxide level in blood drops to normal, Oxygen level in blood increases to normal
*24 hours: Chance of heart attack decreases *48 hours: Nerve Endings start regrowing, smell and taste is enhanced *2 weeks - 3 months: Circulation improves, Walking is easier, Lung function increases up to 30% *1 - 9 months: Coughing, sinus congestion and fatigue are reduced. Increased ability to handle mucous, clean the lungs, reduce infection, body’s overall energy increases
*6 months: the majority of the cells in the body, including lung tissue, will have been replenished at least once *1 year: Excess risk of Coronary Heart Disease is half that of a smoker *5 years: Lung cancer death rate for average former smoker decreases by almost half. Decreased risk of stroke, mouth, throat, esophagus cancers *10 years: Lung cancer death rate similar to non-smoker. Precancerous cells replaced.
How Naturopathic Medicine Can Help:
The goal of Naturopathic Medicine is to restore the body to a natural healthy state. The best treatments are not offered alone, but in a blend that is appropriate for the individual seeking help. Nutrition, supplements, herbal medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine including acupuncture, and homeopathy are some of the effective modalities used in this individualized approach.
Nutrition and supplements are beneficial in supporting the body during the natural detoxification when quitting smoking. From a nutritional standpoint, it is important to eat primarily a whole foods diet to aid in the detoxification process. The additional circulating toxins in the body often require higher levels of nutrients such as anti-oxidants and essential fats.
Many herbs have also been used successfully with smokers, both as cigarette substitutes and to aid in the withdrawal and detoxification side effects. Lobelia leaf, also called “Indian Tobacco” has been used as substitute for cigarettes. Mullein leaf, coltsfoot, yerba santa, sarsaparilla, licorice and garlic have all had a supportive role in smoking cessation. Each herb has specific properties which may or may not make it appropriate for each individual case.
The use of Traditional Acupuncture as a treatment for addiction was discovered in 1972 by a Hong Kong neurosurgeon. He accidentally determined that it reduced withdrawal symptoms such as nausea and the shakes with his opium addicts. Since this discovery, acupuncture has become the most widespread natural therapy for treating addictions to cocaine, alcohol, nicotine, and heroin. Traditional Acupuncture works on the theory that networks of energy (“chi”), flow through the body along natural pathways, and disease grows when that energy is out of balance or blocked. By inserting needles at precise positions along these pathways, the body's natural flow of energy is stimulated, restoring balance. Auricular Acupuncture (acupuncture done on the ear) has proved helpful with decreasing cravings.
Homeopathy uses minute quantities of a substance to stimulate the body to begin healing itself. This therapy is helpful in all aspects of quitting smoking. It will aid in addiction, detoxification and psychological aspects.
There are many possibilities to help a person quit smoking. What works for one person may not work for the other. It is important to decide on a plan of action and work with various therapies as necessary for your success. It’s only natural to experience good and bad days, but try to remember that a craving is like a wave that is strong at first but eventually loses its strength. Work through it and always come back to your original motivations for quitting and becoming smoke-free.