Herbfacts
A woman breaking a cigarette in half to represent giving up smoking

Herb Health: Support for Smokers trying to Quit

Stubbing out for good can be extremely hard and smokers need all the help they can get to quit. 

Editor Jane Garton shares some herbs that can give you a helping hand.

No Smoking Day runs in March each year, but if you are still puffing away or trying desperately to give up why not make today the day you stub out for good?

There are plenty of well-known benefits to quitting smoking. For starters, smoking can more than double your heart attack risk,  but if you give up your risk is significantly reduced within just two years. Even better news, if you’ve already got a heart problem and you are still puffing away, giving up reduces your risk of it becoming fatal even more than measures such as lowering your cholesterol. All very good reasons to get yourself on that smoking cessation programme.  Ask your GP or pharmacist for advice.

WHEN YOU QUIT

Nicotine is addictive and you may start to experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, lack of consideration and difficulty getting or staying asleep. These effects will pass, but meanwhile here are some herbs that can help to make the going easier.

RHODIOLA TO HELP YOU CONCENTRATE

If your mind is all over the place and you are finding it hard to concentrate without a cigarette, rhodiola rosea, or golden root as it is often referred to, may well help you to focus on things better.  Extracts of this herb from Russia are thought to help boost physical and mental health; such are its reputed powers that it is recognised as an official medicine in Russia and Scandinavia for treating fatigue, memory loss and poor concentration.

VALERIAN TO HELP YOU SLEEP

Many people find it hard to get to sleep when they first give up smoking. If you are one of them, a short course of valerian might help you to drop off more easily. Extracts of valerian root contain natural compounds known as iridoids that have a calming effect on the nervous system which can help to relax you and get you in the mood for slumber.

ST JOHN’S WORT TO HELP LIFT THE SPIRITS

Not being able to reach for a cigarette can easily bring on the blues. It can also make you feel annoyed and irritated not only with yourself but also with those around you. Nip these bad feelings in the bud with St John’s wort. It’s ideal for feelings of low mood as well as nervous exhaustion. Don’t expect immediate results though. It can take up to six weeks to take effect.

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO:

When you quit there are almost immediate benefits to your health:

  • 20 minutes: your blood pressure and pulse rate return to normal
  • 24 hours: carbon monoxide will be eliminated from your body
  • 48 hours: no nicotine in your body – your sense of taste and smell greatly improve
  • 3 days: your breathing becomes easier and energy levels increase
  • 2-12 weeks: your circulation improves and exercise becomes easier

Good luck!

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