Supplements for Quitting Smoking
Nicotine: A Serious Addiction
Out of the various common substances in daily life to which one may become addicted, there is no question that nicotine (tobacco) is one of the most difficult to overcome. Quitting smoking requires tremendous effort as addiction may create both a psychological and chemical dependency. The processes that determine nicotine addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to such drugs as heroin and cocaine. Brain chemistry is significantly altered by this alkaloid found in tobacco. Nicotine binds to nicotinic acid receptors in the "pleasure center" of the brain. It acts as a stimulant, activating dopamine receptors. Simplified, once stimulated, these receptors want to be stimulated again and again and again creating the craving for nicotine.
Damaging Effects of Nicotine
Chemically and physiologically, nicotine does a real number on the body. Constantly stimulating dopamine receptors results in an imbalance in neurotransmitters, affecting dopamine, acetylcholine and GABA. Even adrenalin, which as everyone knows is a profound stimulant, will not match the stimulatory craving of nicotine. What ultimately happens is that addicted tobacco smokers will subconsciously alter their nicotine intake to maintain a certain level in the bloodstream, or suffer withdrawal symptoms. In the body, nicotine raises total cholesterol levels, raises blood pressure by constricting blood vessels, and depletes certain vitamins and minerals such as thiamin and calcium. Mood swings may develop from the neurotransmitter imbalance. Also, nicotine is tough on the adrenal glands as it is such a stimulant.
Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms
Side-effects of quitting smoking are not pleasant, and may include memory/focus problems, insomnia, depression, increased appetite, and of course, cravings of different sorts.
Luckily, there is help available if one desires to quit smoking. There is a wide range of supplements which may do everything from assisting with nicotine cravings to helping your body repair from the ravages caused by nicotine addiction.
Five Supplements to Assist in Quitting Smoking
Herbal Allies to Help You Break the Habit
As far as decreasing cravings for nicotine itself, there is one tried and true herb used in many European smoking-cessation preparations. Lobelia inflata contains a component chemically similar to nicotine, although less potent, which binds to nicotine receptors and thus acts to reduce or mask the side-effects of nicotine addiction/withdrawal without itself being addictive. Avena sativa, or oat "milky" seed has been traditionally used to curb addiction from opiates and alcohol, as well as nicotine. This herb acts as a tonifier to the nervous system. In a placebo-controlled study, it greatly reduced the number of cigarettes smoked by subjects who were not making a conscious effort to quit smoking.
Quitting smoking and the subsequent reduction in nicotine will impact the altered brain chemistry caused by the addiction. Support here is mainly found in amino acids which are precursors to important brain neurotransmitters. These substances will help to calm the over-firing of chemicals caused by the nicotine's stimulation. GABA is the brain's primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. It both calms and relaxes the mind, and also inhibits the over-production of dopamine caused by nicotine. It may assist in sleep as well, relieving the insomnia which may be a withdrawal symptom. 5-HTP is the amino acid precursor to serotonin. It has been clinically shown to relieve withdrawal symptoms. By increasing the "feel-good" chemical serotonin, it assists with mood, and may normalize the fluctuating levels caused by cessation since nicotine initially increases this chemical and quitting smoking will reduce normal amounts.
Nicotine is a poison to the body. Toxins in the body must be filtered by the liver and converted to less harmful substances. One of the main compounds in the body to support this is the amino acid N-acetyl-cysteine. This precursor to the body's main antioxidant and detoxifying molecule, glutathione, helps both the lungs and liver to process and detoxify invading toxins. Along with nicotine, cigarette smoke is loaded with other toxic substances. NAC will help to neutralize these toxins as well as offer general lung function support, something which smokers will need. Tobacco smoking depletes this amino acid in the body, so supplementing with this will offer incredible support to the quitting smoker.
Benefits of Quitting Smoking
If you place any value on your brain, heart, lungs or liver, at the least, then you will be happy to learn that all these organs and virtually the entire body will benefit when you quit smoking. Reduced risk of stroke, heart attack and other cardiopulmonary issues, improved lung function, and improved mood, sleep, memory and more may result. In short, you will feel and look better, and will improve your health. The above supplements are available to help you with your decision to quit smoking/nicotine.
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