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We first came across this interesting topic over at Raw For Beauty however we decided to investigate further and see if we could locate the original scientific work behind the claims.
St. John’s Wort is a well known herb which is often used to elevate mood and alleviate tension or mild to moderate depression. It may therefore have potential to elevate mood and assist during withdrawal symptoms, thus alleviating cravings. Note (important) that St. John’s Wort can interact seriously with a variety of prescription medications and so is typically recommended by physicians to be avoided by those using prescription meds. A detailed list of known / reported St. John’s Wort interactions can be found at , p.140-141.
Ginger has been considered since ancient times to be beneficial to digestion. Recent studies have indicated that ginger can assist with nausea caused by seasickness, morning sickness and chemotherapy  – and it is therefore considered possible that ginger may assist with nausea experienced as a symptom of withdrawal.
Cayenne – the well-known fiery red pepper, is claimed to desensitize the respiratory system to tobacco and thereby thwart cravings. This information is widely repeated – however after much searching (Pubmed, Wikipedia, Google) I have not been able to locate the original source of this claim. It does not appear to have its basis in scientific study, however it may have some basis in reports of individual experimentation. Cayenne is generally considered to have numerous health benefits, and so the inclusion of it in the diet may well be beneficial anyway.
Lobelia (caution – read carefully) was an inclusion in the list that attracted considerable controversy. Due to its biological similarity to tobacco, it has been included in several proprietary anti-smoking products as a nicotine replacement. However Lobeline – the main active component – has been withdrawn from sale in the USA. There are 415 species of Lobelia and the species used most commonly in modern herbalism is Lobelia inflata (Indian tobacco)  however L. inflata is known to have some adverse effects and a known emetic – reported to cause nausea and vomiting if used in too great a quantity.
One scientific review has claimed that lobelia is ineffective as an anti-smoking aid: “Lobeline is a partial nicotine agonist derived from the leaves of an Indian tobacco plant (Lobelia inflata) and has been used in proprietary smoking remedies. The Food and Drug Administration no longer permits it to be marketed in the United States, although Health Canada has recently licensed a cessation aid containing lobeline. The Cochrane review found no trials with six months of follow up. An unpublished study of a sublingual tablet found no evidence of efficacy at six weeks.” 
Although lobeline (derived from Lobelia inflata) is no longer permitted in the USA, lobelia extract (dried herb and seed) is still available via Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Herb-Pharm-Lobelia-Extract-Supplement/dp/B00014GJLO and interestingly, one of the customer reviews claims that it is helping with giving up smoking.
Our conclusion is that Lobelia should not be experimented with lightly – and should only be used under the careful supervision and recommendation of a qualified, expert herbalist.
Ginseng is an adaptogenic herb and therefore considered beneficial in rebalancing the body’s systems. A 2009 study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19678784 has shown that ginseng consumption is associated with a longer life span in males. I found one interesting study (1998) that correlated ginseng with mitigation of cancer-related health issues resulting from smoking. Ginseng may have benefits during tobacco withdrawal, perhaps assisting the body to adjust to life without nicotine – however after searching Pubmed I was not able to find the scientific research behind this claim.
Peppermint is considered a digestive aid and tension reliever. It is also cooling to the respiratory system – so for all these reasons it may be of value to those giving up smoking. Peppermint sweets / candies may provide a pleasant sensation and thereby distract from the ‘oral fixation’ of cigarette smoking.
However a recent study (2010) found that peppermint gum did not decrease negative effects of nicotine withdrawal.
More Natural Smoking Remedies
Licorice is a herb that is commonly suggested as a supplement for people attempting to give up smoking. Natives of the West Indies have traditionally chewed on licorice sticks when attempting to give up smoking and it is claimed that it has helped them. You can also obtain licorice as a herbal tea. However remember that over-consumption of licorice has been reported to lead to hypertension (high blood pressure).
Saunas are another thing that is often suggested for people quitting smoking (and other drugs). The theory behind this is that the heat of the sauna leads to a more intense sweat than normal, which causes detoxification as the body sweats out the toxins faster and more strongly. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids (i.e. lemon water or cucumber water) to counter the dehydrating effect and also flush the system.
Other tips. These are not scientifically verified, but I write them as an ex-smoker who has won this battle. I smoked from the age of 14 to 30 and then quit “cold turkey” and have not smoked a single cigarette in 14 years since. First, mental power is always the best thing you can use. I told myself “Which is stronger? Me or this stick made out of dead leaves? If I cannot conquer this, I am nothing. I do not want to be nothing. I will not be nothing.” Next, consider that smoking is a ritual. A form of “meditation gone wrong”. One of the things we crave is to take a two minute break, and take a deep breath. So do that. Just stop, and take a deep breath. Fill your lungs with pure, fresh air. Let oxygen be your drug. It’s good stuff. 😉 Another tip is to remember that smoking gives you something to do with the hands – and having something to do with the hands seems to be calming. Playing a game of cards, rolling spheres around in the hands or doing something creative will often fill part of the same urge. As for the nicotine, remember that the worst of it is gone in 24 hours. One more tip – change your lifestyle. Being around other smokers often causes people to relapse. You may need to change who you hang out with. Tough choice, but the alternative is to risk an early death. It’s the truth. I write from experience. My last word – Take heart. You CAN do it.
Please note – as with other pages on this site, this article is not medical advice nor to be considered a substitute for professional medical evaluation or treatment.
 Mitchell Bebel Stargrove, Jonathan Treasure, Dwight L. McKee “Herb, Nutrient and Drug Interactions” (available via Amazon – http://amzn.to/1on4DQS (affiliate link))
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