Most people know that smoking is bad for you; in fact, it is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in Canada. Surveys show that approximately 85% of smokers want to quit smoking, and 75% have tried at least once, many successfully but most smokers attempting to quit on their own struggle. Smokers that take part in a smoking cessation program are more likely to be successful.
Why do you smoke?
Simply stated there is a chemical in tobacco called nicotine and nicotine is addictive. Nicotine binds to receptors in your brain causing chemical changes that if we are honest smoking has some desirable effects. Nicotine influences dopamine which is associated with pleasure normalizes mood, decreases anxiety, it also increases attention span. Furthermore, nicotine increases the metabolic rate which helps with weight loss. If that wasn’t enough smoking aids in muscle relaxation. With these effects, it’s no wonder people start smoking and quite frankly they love it! So that’s the good, what about the bad?
Harmful effects of smoking
By stimulating what is known as the sympathetic nervous system blood vessels constrict, this causes increases in blood pressure and heart rate leading to an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Smokers have decreased circulation leading to cold hands and feet, this is known as peripheral vascular disease. Smoking also causes bronchial irritation causing a cough and discomfort in the chest. For women, smoking impairs fertility, interacts with birth control pills to increase a risk of strokes and heart attacks and may lead to early menopause. Apart from all of these health concerns, smokers demonstrate decreased senses of smell and taste.
Why is quitting smoking so hard?
Between cigarettes you experience withdrawal symptoms, the nicotine levels drop followed by dopamine levels leading to symptoms and cravings.
|Increased appetite||70%||Up to 10 weeks|
|Nicotine cravings||70%||Up to 2 weeks|
|Restlessness||60%||Up to 4 weeks|
|Depression||60%||Up to 4 weeks|
|Poor concentration||60%||Up to 2 weeks|
|Irritability or aggression||50%||Up to 4 weeks|
|Sleep disturbance||25%||Up to one week|
|Lightheadedness||10%||Up to 48 hours|
Adapted from Jarvis, MJ, Why People Smoke, BMJ 2004;328:277-279
How can Naturopathic Medicine help Quit Smoking?
Naturopathic Medicine programs incorporate lifestyle counselling, nutritional supplementation, botanical medicines and acupuncture which can minimize or prevent the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
During your one on one consultation with the Naturopathic Doctor, a program will be designed specifically for your needs to address the reasons you smoke and help reduce or minimize the withdrawal symptoms you are experiencing.
The good news about quitting smoking
After you quit smoking the benefits start almost immediately and over time the years of damage will begin to reverse until you are virtually the same as a nonsmoker.
|Time since Last Cigarette||Benefit to you|
|2 weeks to 3 months||
|1 month to 9 months||