May 20, 2011
Essential Oil Treatments for Smoking Cessation
Releasing an Addiction to Nicotine: Supporting One's Condition with Essential Oils
In a society that is fast-paced, continually demanding, and somewhat isolated socially, some of us turn to substances to fill the void. In craving human contact, devotion, accountability, and interconnection, we may from time to time find ourselves alien from others, participating with them only in the context of consumption, or work, or longing for contact without knowing how to establish it.
As a communal animal, humans thrive in nurturing contact with others where they can trust and be trusted, actualize their natures as interdependent, creative beings. Historically, we depended upon cooperation to perform the functions of life: finding food and water, building shelter, developing culture. Now that we increasingly depend upon income to acquire necessities, and use that income to participate in culture, we may feel the hollow sting of separateness. In few, though increasingly numerous, communities is it the norm to engage with others for the goals of survival and cultural celebration.
To relieve the pain of hunger, loneliness, anger, and fatigue, substances like cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs might seem feasible options. As a socially accepted and condoned drug, nicotine is familiar to many of us. We know someone, chances are, that has passed away from cancer or emphysema, and we know we should stop smoking.
Okay, now how?
Some essential oils have been tested in the context of smoking cessation. In Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice, Jane Buckle describes those trials. To stave off cravings, the clinicians recommended inhaling a series of oils after meals, during the time of the strongest cravings. Most smokers, without inhaling oils made it an average of 2 minutes before lighting up. Those who inhaled Angelica archangelica essential oil were able to wait an average of 53 minutes. While Angelica did not entirely eliminate the cravings, it did stymy them 25 times longer than no treatment.
Rose and Behm (1994) posit that when quitting smoking, it is necessary to reproduce the sensation in the lungs that smoking gives. They found that inhaling Black Pepper essential oil mimicked the feeling of inhaling smoke, thus reducing the cravings.
In another test, a group of women were asked to place a few drops of Ylang Ylang essential oil on a cotton square, and put it in their pillowcases every night for seven nights. The women were also asked to inhale a few drops from a square of cotton when they experienced cravings during the day. While the number of cravings for women in the Ylang Ylang group decreased more than the control group, who inhaled Almond Oil, the Ylang Ylang did not eliminate them entirely. 80% of the women in the Ylang Ylang group did report that, "smelling the oil relieved the stress and anxiety of that moment."
In the Flower Essence Repertory, by Patricia Kaminsky and Richard Katz, the authors tout the efficacy of Nicotiana Flower Essence Remedy in assisting with smoking cessation. This flower essence addresses the human disposition that promotes addiction to nicotine; specifically the numbing of the emotions accompanied by mechanization or hardening of the body, as well as the inability to cope with deep feelings and finer sensibilities. Treatment with Nicotiana invites a re-balancing and peace which is deeply centered in the heart, and an integration of physical and emotional well-being through harmonious connection with the Earth.
Recommendations based on Research:
Inhale a few drops of Angelica oil directly from the bottle, from your wrists, or from a tissue or cotton pad, during the times when you are most likely to experience cravings. Angelica is widely used for the treatment of respiratory conditions, as well as for circulatory stimulation.
Ylang Ylang oil is good for easing the stress of daytime cravings, and is thought to be as or more effective when diffused overnight. Either apply as Angelica, or diffuse in your bedroom, home, or office.
If you feel the need for respiratory stimulation, inhale Black Pepper as you would the above oils. This won't make you sneeze like the loose, dry pepper will, since it won't send particles of pepper up into the nasal passages.
Nicotiana Flower Essence Remedy is to be taken two drops at a time, four times per day. The method is to collect some saliva in the mouth in order to cure the immune system in that medication is coming. Then drop two drops under the tongue, swish the mixture around the mouth, covering the mucosa, then swallow. This may be safely used in conjunction with the essential oils above.
Recommendations from the Human Heart:
Take some time to connect with nature. Beyond activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the one that balances the stress response, it will give you time to breathe, think, and open to feelings. Be patient and compassionate with yourself when you're dealing with the anxiety and crankiness associated with quitting smoking. Cry when you need to, and try your best to sit with the feelings instead of going to the cigarettes, or other substance to numb them. Being with nature will also give you the space to be with yourself and avoid taking the feelings out on others around you.
Go for a run, bike ride, hike, swim, dance, do some yoga, walk around the block, or otherwise jump around and play when you feel the sluggishness and mounting anxiety that comes with the first stages of quitting. The more you nurture yourself with things you love, like music, cooking, outdoor activities, the less dependent you will be, day by day, on cigarettes for that stimulation. Movement also invigorates the nervous system, giving you a boost that used to come from the tobacco stressing your adrenal glands.
Sip on some green tea. High in anti-oxidants, and with a mild amount of caffeine, Green tea will both help detoxify the body and stimulate the adrenal glands gently so as to avoid a hard shock to the system. Coffee is going to boost anxiety levels while you're quitting, so best to avoid completely or dramatically reduce consumption.
Connect with someone new. What are you into? Music? Live Action Role Playing? Reading? River Cleanups? Whatever it is, there is quite likely an organization or meetup group in your area that is doing what you like. There, you will meet folks with whom you already have something in common. If you're not really that into social activity, you might even find one other person during a day-outing that feels the same way you do. Whatever your preferred activities or levels of social interaction, connection is the point. By growing your support system, your coping without cigarettes will be well on the way.