Herbs can be a great addition to a stop smoking program. Certain herbs will decrease withdrawal symptoms, ease stress and anxiety, reduce cravings, or help detoxify the lungs and body.
Calamus (Acorus calamus)
Calamus, otherwise know as Sweet Flag, helps to eliminate excess mucus and clear congestion in the bronchioles. It is traditionally used to treat asthma, bronchitis, and whooping cough, but is also of great use in removing the residual toxins in the lungs from cigarette smoking.Calamus is a calming and centering herb. It also has stimulating properties, and while it can treat anxiety, it will also give you the extra energy and stamina that you need while in withdrawal.Also, a well know digestive aid, calamus can help relieve upset stomach that may occur during the acute phases of withdrawal. Because of its effects on digestion, calamus tends to increase appetite, so be aware of this if you are taking calamus and are concerned with putting on weight once you quit smoking.
Some say that chewing calamus root kills the taste for tobacco. I guess it’s worth a try since the root has many other benefits in regards to quitting smoking.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
While catnip excites cats, it calms down humans. Catnip reduces anxiety and can help those suffering from insomnia. Since catnip is calms the mind, it can help take the edge off the first few days after quitting.
Catnip is also helpful for easing digestive upset and alleviating headaches which can occur during the withdrawal period.
Catnip may also help to reduce cravings for cigarettes. Putting several drops of catnip tincture on the back of the tongue is said to decrease the desire for cigarettes.
Some people smoke catnip, but smoking it may cause headaches, so proceed with caution if you choose to do so.
Excessive intake of catnip may cause headaches, nausea, or vomiting.
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)
Coltsfoot is an expectorant herb, which means that it promotes coughing and helps to expel mucus. Coltsfoot is an excellent herb for cleansing the lungs, but using too high of a dose can lead to coughing fits. Start using coltsfoot at a low dose; you want to cough once in a while to bring up the excess phlegm and clear the toxins, but not so much that coughing becomes incessant.
Do not use coltsfoot if you cannot stop coughing, if you are coughing up blood, or if you have pain when breathing.
Horsetail (Equisitum arvense)
Horsetail contains a small amount of nicotine and can help alleviate cravings and ease withdrawal symptoms in the first few days after quitting.
If using horsetail for more than six weeks continuously, it is important to take a break from the herb for three weeks, as excessive use can cause urinary irritation.
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Hyssop’s expectorant properties clear mucous congestion and purify the lungs. Hyssop also soothes irritated mucous membranes in the respiratory system, and it is often used for treating respiratory ailments.Hyssop is also useful to help one cope with any extra stress that may be associated with quitting smoking. Hyssop relieves anxiety, soothes the nervous system and enhances mental clarity.
It may also help lessen withdrawal symptoms as hyssop is known to help clear toxins in the intestines, bladder, and kidneys in addition to it cleansing action in the lungs. Hyssop is also a diaphoretic herb, meaning that it promotes sweating which will help in cleansing the body of toxins through the skin.
Hyssop does have laxative properties, if you experience excessive diarrhea while taking this herb, stop taking it for a few days, then resume with a milder dose.
Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Korean ginseng has adaptogenic properties, meaning that it helps the body deal with physical and emotional stress and to restore balance in the body. It is a tonic for health and helps improve overall well-being. Korean ginseng is also a tonic for the adrenal glands and it reestablishes proper cortisol levels in the bloodstream. Because it energizes the body and helps deal with symptoms of stress and fatigue, Korean ginseng may increase energy, endurance and stamina during the withdrawal period.
Korean ginseng will help one deal with the mental and emotional stresses of quitting as it sharpens concentration, improves mood and may lessen anxiety.Often used for breathing problems and asthma, Korean ginseng dilates constricted vessels in the lungs and may help rebuild the general health of the lungs.Korean ginseng has been studied for its effects on cancer prevention. It has been shown to decrease the likelihood of developing lung cancer, as well as other types of cancers, and may be beneficial if you are worried about the carcinogenic effects of a long-term smoking habit.
Do not take ginseng for prolonged periods without a break. For example, alternate periods of a few weeks of taking ginseng with a few weeks of not taking ginseng. In this way, you will avoid side effects that may occur from taking ginseng for extended periods.If you have insomnia, do not take ginseng later than midday as it may interfere with sleep.
Do not take ginseng if you have a heart condition, diabetes, auto-immune disease, bleeding disorder, schizophrenia or a hormone sensitive condition; ginseng has various effects which can make these conditions worse. If you are on medication to prevent organ rejection after transplant, do not take ginseng as it can interfere with the medication.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Licorice is an expectorant and demulcent herb. It has been traditionally used to soothe irritation in the lungs caused by asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory ailments.It is also an adrenal tonic, and can help to balance cortisol levels, reduce fatigue and restore energy.Chewing on sticks of licorice root (not the candy) can also satisfy the oral fixation of smoking. You can find licorice root at a health food store or herbal shop.
Do not use licorice for more than 4-6 weeks. High doses or long-term use may cause potassium depletion, edema, or high blood-pressure.Avoid using licorice if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, adrenal disease or weaknesses in the kidneys or liver.Also do not take licorice if you have hormonal conditions such as any estrogen-sensitive condition (uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or breast, uterine or ovarian cancer), low testosterone levels, or an imbalance of aldosterone.