August 25 2016
In this day and age, we are very aware of the many unhealthy, even deathly effects from smoking cigarettes. Besides the fact that they can cause cancer, they also cause emphysema, they give you asthma, increase your heart rate to unhealthy levels, lower your immune system, lower your lung capacity, clot your blood, stain your teeth but most of all, they are very addictive. Nicotine is the addictive substance found in cigarettes. It is a stimulant that originates from the nightshade plant family and it is highly poisonous. The way it works is that once you light up a cigarette, nicotine filled blood passes through your body and stimulates certain receptors in your brain causing a dopamine release causing a feeling of reward (dopamine is the brain chemical that causes a feeling of gratification) thus making it addictive. Its side effects include:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Change of mood (usually alertness and relaxation)
- Faster metabolism
For the longest time, cigarettes were everywhere we looked. Everyone was smoking them, in advertisements, offices and schools, at home; everywhere you would look you would see someone smoking a cigarette. These days, with the increasing knowledge about the damages of nicotine, many people are quitting smoking, but we are still dealing with the aftermath of decades of cigarette promotion. When you smoke regularly, your body adapts to having a regular dose of nicotine, the nervous system rewires itself to adapt to the chemical intake as well, thus resulting in withdrawal symptoms when someone quits. Nausea, headaches, irritability and an increase in appetite are some of the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, they can be very difficult to deal with, and thankfully there are natural ways to help make quitting a bit easier!
When quitting smoking, it is important to try to flush not only the nicotine, but also the rest of the poisonous ingredients that cigarettes leave in our bodies. Drinking lots of water and eating foods rich in beta-carotene, B vitamins (soy, cereals, shellfish, spinach, asparagus) to help reduce anxiety from quitting smoking and help with red blood cell production, C vitamins (bell peppers, kale, broccoli, berries) to help build back up your immune system, magnesium (dark chocolate, spinach, nuts and seeds, lentils) to help relax your nerves and brain and antioxidants (blueberries, acai, cranberries) to help prevent cancer. It is usually recommended to take a supplement containing fir gum to help soothe the respiratory system while quitting as well. Fir gum is a strong antioxidant and it is amazing for the lungs. It is also recommended to do cardio based exercise. Doing cardio will slowly but surely help you regain your lung capacity while you are quitting smoking while doing exercises like yoga, especially hot yoga will help you relax and (in the case of hot yoga) will help you sweat out some toxins. Also, it is probably a good idea to avoid certain substances that tend to make you want a cigarette like coffee or alcohol. It is also recommended to try to cleanse your body with a healthy natural detox that contains natural diuretic type plants that target the liver and kidneys. Most of all, it is important to remind yourself that you do not need cigarettes to make you feel better. You are stronger than your addiction and you will feel so much better without smoking cigarettes.