Aromatherapy & Quitting Smoking

No Smoking Day was recognized this week. The main take away of this day is to offer help to those who want to quit. We don’t have a magic solution to quit smoking for good but there are some helpful ways aromatherapy can make the road to smoke-free a little less miserable.

By now the health dangers of smoking are well known: stroke, heart disease and a lengthy list of other respiratory diseases and cancer. These increased health risks don’t take into account the premature aging effects on the skin, lips, hands, thinning hair and discolored teeth.  

Despite these unpleasant side effects, we understand that the motivation to quit can be extremely difficult. For many individuals who smoke it can help them control stress, especially as smoke breaks during work hours can be a time to unwind and regain focus. Plus, smoking is often a very social habit, so there’s the fun factor too.

The good news is, once someone stops lighting up the health benefits don’t take long to kick in.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • The risk of heart attack drops sharply after only 1 year of quitting
  • In 2 to 5 years the risk of stroke falls to the same as nonsmokers
  • Within 5 years the risks for cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder drop by half, with the risk of lung cancer also dropping by half within 10 years.

So how can aromatherapy help?

Well it can’t, not unless someone really wants to quit. There are countless programs and pharmaceuticals that can help, but in reality the main factor for success is old fashioned willpower.

This is where aromatherapy can help take off the edge. The biggest benefit essential oils offer someone trying to quit is relieving some of the withdrawal symptoms.

In fact, studies from the Nicotine Research Laboratory found that inhalation of Black Pepper Essential Oil was effective at cutting cigarette cravings.

The CDC highlights the following nicotine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Feeling irritable, angry or anxious
  • Difficulty with focus or clarity
  • Tobacco cravings
  • Feeling hungrier than usual

We’ll take a look at each of these symptoms and provide recommendations for essential oils that may be effective.

Withdrawal symptoms: Irritability, Anger and Anxiety

  • Bergamot – Eases anxiety, uplifting
  • Immortelle – Diffuses anger and destructive feelings
  • Lavender – Calms emotional anxiety, soothing
  • Turmeric – Calms fiery emotions
  • Rose – Calms anger, frustration
  • Ylang Ylang – Lessens anxiety

Withdrawal symptoms: Difficulty with focus or clarity

  • Lavendin – Clears mental fog
  • Lemon – Clears the mind, regulates mood swings
  • Lemongrass – Cuts through emotional fog
  • Rosemary – Revives mental clarity
  • Tea Tree – Enhances thought process

Withdrawal symptoms: Tobacco cravings

  • Angelica – Spicy aroma, respiratory and digestive relief, purifying
  • Black Pepper – Respiratory stimulation
  • Ylang Ylang – Spicy aroma, reduces daytime cravings,
  • Clove – Hot, sweet-spicy aroma, purifying, enhances inner strength
  • Clary Sage – Inspiring, respiratory, circulatory benefits

Withdrawal symptoms: Hungrier than usual

  • Cinnamon – Eases indigestion
  • Lemon – Assists mood swings
  • Peppermint – Aids digestion
  • Ginger – Aids digestion

All of the oils mentioned above can be used pure or blended together in a variety of different aromatherapy techniques including:

  • Diffusing
  • Inhalation
  • Aromatic bath
  • Mixed in a massage blend or
  • Mixed with a carrier oil and applied direct to skin

As a general rule do not ingest essential oils without contacting a medical professional.

For more information about quitting smoking check out this handy fact sheet from the CDC:

Happy quitting!

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. Library of Medicine

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