Nicotine, a powerfully addictive stimulant, is the primary compound responsible for tobacco's psychoactive effects. According to the National Institutes of Health, symptoms of nicotine withdrawal can be severe; many people are unsuccessful in their first attempts to stop smoking. However, more than 38 million Americans have successfully quit. Along with other strategies, such as counseling and peer support, some herbal supplements may act as viable, natural substitutes for caffeine.
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Consult your health care provider before using any naturopathic treatment for nicotine addiction.
Like nicotine, caffeine is a stimulant and an appetite suppressant. The NIH notes that many people are afraid to stop smoking because they worry that they will gain weight. Although caffeine is not necessarily a safe or effective weight loss method, the NIH suggests that it can suppress the appetite and stimulate the central nervous system. Caffeine is addictive; however, the NIH reports that moderate caffeine intake-- below 250 milligrams per day-- does not threaten a person's overall health. Consider adding natural sources of caffeine to your diet as nicotine substitutes. Some good sources of caffeine include coffee, tea and dark chocolate.
For centuries, people throughout the world have used the Pacific herb kava-kava as both a recreational drug and a treatment for psychiatric disturbances. Like nicotine, kava-kava creates a temporary sense of well-being. The NIH reports that kava, which works in a manner similar to prescription benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium, may help to curb symptoms of anxiety, stress and agitation. Although no studies have investigated its efficacy as a nicotine substitute, it may theoretically ease "nicotine fits," or episodes of anxiety related to nicotine withdrawal. The NIH warns that kava-kava has caused liver damage, including fatal liver failure, in some individuals. Consult your health care provider before using kava-kava, especially if you have a history of liver disease.
Anxiety, restlessness, insomnia and agitation are among the most common and troublesome symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal, according to the NIH. Fortunately, natural supplements made from passionflower may help to reduce these frustrating problems. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that passionflower may help to ease anxiety and insomnia, particularly in people with diagnosed psychiatric problems. However, these uses are based primarily based in tradition, with only limited scientific evidence to support these uses. Passionflower has a sweet fragrance and may be consumed as a tea, tincture, capsule or liquid extract.
The calamus plant, more commonly known as bitterroot or sweet flag, contains psychoactive constituents which may be used as nicotine substitutes. When chewed, bitterroot releases a combination of chemicals which, like nicotine, exert both a stimulant and depressant effect. Herbalist Jim McDonald notes that calamus is classified as a known carcinogen by the Food and Drug Administration, but he recommends it as a helpful adjunct for relieving anxiety caused by nicotine withdrawal.