I believe the most important skill you need to quit smoking permanently, is to learn how to manage your cravings to smoke. When we give in, to our unhealthy desires, we stay on the addiction merry-go-round. Just because you have an urge to do something, it doesn’t mean you should act on it.
1. Wait until you are craving a cigarette.
2. Take a deep breath and ask that desire to grow as quickly as possible. Continue to breathe deeply as you focus on the craving growing stronger and multiplying throughout your body. You may experience anxiety or intense feelings but deal with it by asking the desire to increase.
3. Now imagine smoking 3 cigarettes at once, and as soon as you finish those, imagine doing it again. Taste the acetone, ammonia, arsenic, butane, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, insecticide, lead and tar you're pulling into your lungs. Really feel the 7,000 chemicals, which at least 70 of those chemicals are known to cause cancer - burning your tongue, your throat, and your lungs.
4. Imagine indulging your craving until you're sick… The horrible taste in your mouth, the smoke singeing your throat and your lungs. Feel your throat and lungs constricting, your chest hurting as your muscles spasm in protest of the poison you're sucking into your lungs. Your body racked with a coughing fit.
5. Tell yourself you can smoke, but you're going to go hard. Feel the dizziness, your head spinning, and wave of nausea washing over you. Remember how you felt when you first smoked, how you felt lightheaded, your body breaking out in a cold sweat just like before you get sick. Feel how disappointed you would feel if you had a cigarette, how disappointed the people that care about you would be.
Within a few minutes, your desire to smoke will vanish or be greatly reduced, and instead, you'll feel calm and accepting of your desire to smoke and know you will be able to handle the feelings that come up when you are craving a cigarette.
6. Repeat every time you have the urge to smoke. Your craving will vanish faster each time, usually in seconds, and be replaced with a genuine feeling of exceptional well-being and energy. This technique works well with anxiety and panic attacks, and any type of craving that you are trying to resist.
Part of what causes cravings is that your subconscious believes it needs nicotine to survive since it’s in your system all of the time - like water or oxygen. By asking the desire to increase, you are telling your body and mind that you are okay. Through accepting and not resisting the cravings, you shift them very quickly.
There really is something to the 12 step program’s motto of “one day at a time”. Stay in the present. You don’t need to commit to not ever smoking again for the rest of your life, you’re just not going to have one right now.
"You can have just one…" your brain may tell you, but it's most likely that you won't stop at one. And then what? You end up smoking for the rest of your life. Do you really want to risk it?
Each time you deny the desire to smoke it will be an effort but, in time, the cravings will fade. You won't always be struggling with it. A good acronym to remember is N.O.P.E (Not one puff, ever!)
After a while, it may recur only for 30 seconds once every couple of months, but even if the urge strikes for only a few seconds, that's enough time to light up, so it's smart to be mentally prepared. At that moment, you don't want to forget how much you like not smoking.
Anxiety is one of the worst feelings there is. The pounding heart, the uncontrollable shaking, the racing thoughts and the impending sense of doom overwhelming you. Anxiety in certain situations is completely normal and expected, however, for some people it becomes overwhelming and debilitating when experienced on a regular basis.
The most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses are now anxiety disorders. Not surprisingly, the World Health Organization (WHO) puts the US at the top of the list when it comes to anxiety: one in three Americans will be diagnosed with anxiety. New Zealand comes in third, with one in four, or 25% of our population being diagnosed with anxiety during their lifetime.
Stress and anxiety is both physiological and psychological. We all experience stress every day. Daily demands such as responsibilities, changes, relationships, illness, traumatic events and money problems can cause stress, and, in turn, anxiety.
Anxiety definitely runs in families. A study in 2011 of 10,000 people that found that high rates of anxiety in families predicts whether or not kids will develop issues with anxiety.
The study found kids with no anxious relatives have a one in 10 chance of developing anxiety. One close family member with an anxiety disorder raises the likelihood to 30%, and if a large percentage of the family is anxious, kids have an 80% greater chance of developing anxiety.
Knowledge of what happens when you get anxious is helpful in learning to control it.
The fight or flight response is hardwired into your body to keep you safe. When you perceive something to be a threat, your body triggers the adrenal glands to pour out steroids, stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline and hundreds of other chemicals to fuel the body to give it more energy to fight or run away.
This response is similar to injecting three shots of espresso straight into your blood stream and the primitive part of your brain activates, shutting down the more logical thought processes. And that’s the perfect response for when you are in danger, however, it’s crippling when it happens in everyday life.
When you have anxiety, you can become hyper-vigilant and over-sensitive, making harmless activities like driving, flying, going to the movies or socializing seem like a threat to your safety.
I grew up with several close family members that had severe anxiety and started experiencing anxiety in my teens as a result of several traumatic events. I started drinking and smoking, since I found it temporarily relieved my anxiety. However, once the buzz wore off, the fear came back making me feel even worse than before. I found I was either overwhelmed with fear or became very angry as a coping mechanism.
I was sent to several therapists that only seemed to make things worse, since they kept having me talk about my traumas over and over. I was put on a variety of medications that seemed to intensify the anxiety or make me feel like a zombie.
I had general anxiety, social anxiety, and severe panic attacks. The thought of public speaking or even being the center of attention was terrifying. This carried on into my mid-twenties when I had a head-on collision with a truck, with both of us going about 80 kilometers an hour.
Luckily the driver of the truck only had minor injuries but I was screwed. I had a frontal lobe head injury, my nose was smashed and I was torn open from my eyebrow down to my lip. I broke every bone where the seatbelt goes and my right kneecap needed to be reattached, not to mention major lacerations and sprains.
The doctors told me that I may be permanently impaired from my head injury, that I probably would always have a limp, and would need several more surgeries to look normal again. I was so grateful to be alive that I vowed to myself that I would do whatever it took to heal and start living life, instead of being so afraid all the time.
I became obsessed with healing my body and mind, trying to find what foods, supplements and therapies would help me to heal the fastest. It took me about 6 months to no longer have a limp, about a year to reverse the effects of the head injury and it took around 2 years to be free of anxiety and pain.
I realized that my subconscious programs and belief systems were just as broken as my body and began work on myself to fix my patterns of anxiety, self-sabotage and limiting self-beliefs. I studied Hypnotherapy, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Counselling, Addictions, Nutritional Therapy and just about every therapy you can think of, to figure out what really works.
So, what works for anxiety?
Anxiety is triggered by the nervous system and the subconscious mind. Your subconscious controls all of your involuntary bodily functions and its number one job is to keep you safe and alive. So, your subconscious believes that by triggering anxiety or the fight or flight response, it’s keeping you safe. Your subconscious needs to learn that by triggering anxiety in non-threatening situations, it’s not keeping you safe but causing you harm.
Your subconscious records everything that happens to you and creates programs from those memories. Anxiety can be a faulty program and the fastest way to change subconscious programs is by using hypnotherapy and NLP techniques. There are tons of free resources on the net and youtube as well as lots of great therapists out there that can really help.
For me, whenever I got anxious, my hands and legs would shake. Relaxing felt physically impossible since I was continually in fight-or-flight mode. Your body is trying to produce the energy needed to survive a life-threatening event. When the fight or flight response is triggered, your body releases a large amount of electricity to give you the energy to run away or fight for your life.
When we experience anxiety or trauma, we are not always able to release this energy since the main way we do this is through intense physical exercise or for our bodies to tremble and shake so it just keeps circulating in your body.
A few years ago, a client offered to take me through me some Trauma Releasing Exercises (T.R.E.), which had helped her overcome her trauma and anxiety. I will try any therapy if I think it can help myself or my clients. I thought of myself as someone who no longer had anxiety but after just one session of T.R.E., I was amazed at how calm I felt. I realized that I was still operating in a stressed state, I was just so used to it, I didn’t notice it until it was gone.
T.R.E. was originally designed as a safe and easy way to induce tremors in the body in order to release stress. Anyone with trauma, anxiety, panic attacks and PTSD will find T.R.E. hugely beneficial. T.R.E. is a series of exercises that take about 20 minutes to complete, and they’re intended to induce tremors by tiring your muscles.
Tremors are a natural way that humans and mammals release excess energy and adrenaline after a traumatic event. Animals in the wild will naturally shake for several minutes after a trauma.
Most people stop their natural instinct from shaking or having tremors, as it makes us feel self-conscious. Suppressing tremors makes it more difficult to overcome trauma because we are not allowing it to be released. You can learn more at http://www.traumarelease.co.nz/ or this book.
I find a lot of people with anxiety tend to be self-medicating with alcohol since it temporarily reduces anxiety by raising the calming chemical GABA. Unfortunately, alcohol makes anxiety much worse the next day as your GABA levels are lower than before.
Caffeine is commonly consumed in coffee and other beverages to help boost energy levels but stimulates the nervous system and doubles the release of cortisol and adrenaline making you much more likely to feel anxious.
The other problem is that caffeine has been shown to inhibit levels of serotonin (a natural antidepressant) and GABA (a calming chemical) in the brain and when serotonin and GABA levels are suppressed, you can become anxious, depressed and feel irritable.
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is your brain’s natural valium. If you’re high in GABA—you feel relaxed and stress-free. If you are low in GABA—you feel anxious, irritable, overwhelmed, stressed and wired.
L-Theanine an amino acid found in green tea increases levels of GABA within the brain, increases the production of alpha brainwaves, as well as boosting focus and mental clarity. Studies show that l-theanine is useful in the treatment of anxiety due to its ability to calm the nervous system, counteracting the toxic effects of stress as well as improving sleep.
Passion Flower extract has been shown boost GABA to aid in relaxation, and reduce tenseness and restlessness without creating dependency.
Inositol - Inositol is one of my favorite supplements for people who suffer from anxiety since it raises GABA levels which has a relaxing effect. It has also been shown to be beneficial for treating anxiety, depression, insomnia and panic disorders.
L-Glutamine – Glutamine is amazing for alcohol, sugar and carb cravings as well as reducing anxiety by raising GABA levels. It also repairs the lining of the gut and is an all-around wonder amino acid.
I believe that we all have a unique purpose that we are meant to fulfil and that our traumas and our setbacks are what shape us and guide us towards our destiny, our life purpose. Now, I’m not saying that every bad thing that happens to us, is predestined or karma. But you have a choice, you can learn and grow from your experiences or be stunted by them and allow them to hold you back. You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.
So, you feel like you are ready to quit smoking… You can’t change something if you don’t acknowledge the problem or make a plan of action to fix it. Now, I am assuming that you’re not content with being addicted to cigarettes or you probably wouldn’t be reading this. You're unhappy with the fact that you smoke and want to change it.
Let’s be honest. When it comes to quitting smoking, going cold turkey is not only hell, but most of the time, it doesn’t work. We start out with the best intentions, but once the withdrawals set in, we feel so awful we give up and start smoking again. If you are ready to stop smoking for good without feeling like crap, you need a different approach.
Most people say they want to stop smoking, but they are not clear about when that will happen. Most of us have our head in the sand about smoking because we don’t want to face it. It feels too painful to face what smoking is doing to your health, happiness and appearance. But, (and possibly a horrible smelly cigarette butt), it’s more painful not to be as healthy, happy, not to mention as sexy, as you know you could be if you were free of the habit of smoking.
We know it's not good for us - so why do we do it?
Approximately 1 billion people around the world are smokers. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 5 million people a year die prematurely as a result of smoking.
5 million people are dying from smoking a year… That’s around 14,000 people a day, dying from smoking-related diseases.
Smoking kills more than 50% of all smokers, mainly from cancer, and even though it’s the single largest avoidable risk of premature death, there are approximately 30 million new smokers a year, as estimated by scientists. The average smoker lives ten years less than a non-smoker and is much more likely to contract many different, horrible diseases.
So why, when we know that cigarettes are poisonous and that they make us much more likely to die of a horrible disease do we continue to smoke? Blame it on the nicotine. The main stimulant in cigarettes, nicotine, has a substantial effect even in tiny doses.
Nicotine's mood-altering effects are somewhat unique, as it is both a stimulant and a relaxant. It causes a release of glucose (sugar) from the liver, and adrenaline, making you feel more alert and calm at the same time. It’s no surprise so many people are hooked on smoking. However, don’t be fooled by the payoffs that nicotine can give. It is more deadly than arsenic and strychnine.
That craving for cigarettes is partly due to your subconscious believing you need nicotine. When it’s in your system all the time, your body starts to think that it needs to be there for your survival - just like air, food, and water.
The pull of nicotine comes from the fact that it brings relief. Unfortunately, this relief is only temporary. Not many smokers realise that a lot of the stress relieved by a cigarette is caused by smoking the one before.
The stress on your body, brought on by being poisoned by the thousands of toxic chemicals, triggers the release of endorphins. Endorphins are our natural pain relieving chemical. Endorphins are more potent than morphine or heroin! To guarantee it has a “painkilling” supply for the next assault (or cigarette), the body stockpiles endorphins and waits for the next cigarette to release them.
When the expected chemical trigger from smoking doesn’t arrive, the smoker experiences increasing stress from low blood sugar and low endorphins and craves the endorphin and sugar hit they now associate with smoking another cigarette.
The cycle works something like this: experience stress, smoke a cigarette, trigger an endorphin and blood sugar release, feel a temporary relaxation, deplete endorphin supply and blood sugar, experience increased stress. And round and round we go…
So how do you quit?
1. Commit to quitting smoking and start to see yourself as a non-smoker.
Set a date for when you will stop smoking so you can get prepared for it. I find Wednesday and Thursday good quit days since stress seems to build during the week and by Wednesday or Thursday people’s stress levels are high, and they break down and have a cigarette. Write out a quit smoking contract and sign it to make it official.
You also need to change your identity as a smoker. There are certain things you don’t do. Smoking needs to become one of them. Say to yourself “My name is ____________, and I don’t smoke!” Say this over and over. Picture a healthier, happier future version of you that is a non-smoker. Feel how good it’s going to feel to be free of the burden of smoking.
2. Get some supplements to help you with the process.
I do believe that Vitamin B-3 (Niacin or Niacinamide) is one of the most important supplements you can take when it comes to treating addiction. Nicotine and niacin occupy the same receptors in the brain, which is why it is so helpful in reducing nicotine cravings. Vitamin B-3 was part of the original AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) protocol, and they had an 80 percent success rate with helping people get sober when B-3 was recommended.
I also highly recommend taking Chromium Polynicotinate or GTF Chromium to regulate your blood sugar when you quit. When you quit smoking, your blood sugar can become lower than when you were a smoker, since you are not having that blood sugar boost when you smoke. When you tried quitting smoking before, did you feel anxious, achy, tired, irritable and hungrier than usual? Did you crave sweets more than normal, feel slightly dizzy, foggy-headed or even slightly confused? If you did, you were likely experiencing low blood sugar symptoms.
That’s because every cigarette you smoke triggers a small blood sugar release. When you quit smoking, your blood sugar can become lower than before since you are no longer having that blood sugar boost from smoking. Taking chromium is an excellent way to regulate your blood sugar while keeping yourself feeling balanced and calm while quitting smoking.
Get some chewable or liposomal Vitamin C. Suck on a chewable vitamin C tablet or take some vitamin C each time you want a cigarette. Studies have found taking Vitamin C is as effective as nicotine replacement drugs for cravings. Smokers are found to have below average levels of Vitamin C – in a pack a day smoker as much as 40 percent less than a non-smoker.
Link for more on the supplements I recommend.
3. Get help. I believe hypnotherapy is one of the most effective ways to quit smoking.
I was a pack-a-day-plus smoker for over ten years. I quit many times but always found it a massive struggle and would find myself back puffing away before long. I tried patches, gum and prescription medication and it was just one session of hypnotherapy that finally broke the spell cigarettes seemed to have over me.
Your behaviour is driven by your subconscious mind, and if you change your associations with smoking at the subconscious level, it’s much easier to quit. Withdrawal symptoms are partly the effect of subconscious responses. We strengthen these responses with our beliefs and our inner dialogue.
Do you ever hear yourself say, “Quitting is too hard; I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop. I just want a cigarette so much, and I can’t think straight until I have one.“ You are telling your body to crave a cigarette and making yourself feel like you can’t think clearly until you smoke one. With hypnotherapy, you can stop this cycle at its source, your thoughts. Don’t save your health and happiness for some other time, make that change now. Will it be easy? Nope. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.
Here is a free quit smoking hypnosis video on youtube you can watch to help you get started. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hO3TGF49IXM&t=17s
Or check out my book The Smoking Cure: How To Quit Smoking Without Feeling Like Sh*t
If you wake up most mornings feeling anxious, depressed or stressed, you are not alone. On average, 1 in 6 adults (16%) have been diagnosed with a common mental disorder at some time in their lives including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. In France, 1 in 3 people are prescribed psychotropic drugs. We are in the midst of an epidemic of people feeling like crap: anxious, stressed, depressed, no motivation, tired, wired and unable to sleep.
Most of my work is based on helping people feel better, be it changing your lifestyle, emotions, thoughts and/or behavior. It’s something that has fascinated me for as long as I can remember and also something I still struggle with to get 100% right. I personally come from a family where pretty much everyone has struggled with a mental health issue or addiction. While I do believe some of our issues are inherited, I also believe our tendency to struggle stems from our chemical balances or imbalances, as the case may be.
One of the first steps in changing how you feel is to realize why you feel that way in the first place. A lot of the time, we are self-medicating due to imbalances in the body or imbalances that have been caused by the substances we are consuming.
We produce certain chemicals called neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers of mood, motivation and feelings that make us feel good. When our neurotransmitters are produced in optimal amounts, we feel happy and satisfied. When they are deficient, we feel out-of-sorts and are looking for ways to boost them.
In this post, I’m going to talk about ways to boost the neurotransmitters you may be lacking or deficient in, to help you feel better and stop the cycle of self-medicating and feeling like crap.
So, checking these neurotransmitters is the first place I start with my clients when addressing any issue.
1) Dopamine – The motivating neurotransmitter that makes you feel focused, energized and excited. When you are low in dopamine, you tend to feel distracted, sluggish, prone to procrastination and find it hard to take pleasure in life.
What you crave when you are low – Sugar, caffeine, cigarettes, energy drinks, diet drinks, porn, sex, amphetamines and cocaine.
How to boost dopamine –
A) Diet – Almonds, avocados, bananas, dairy, eggs, fish, meat and poultry, oats, sesame and pumpkin seeds may all help your body to produce more dopamine.
B) Exercise – Exercise stimulates dopamine release and uptake in your brain. Try 30 to 60 minutes of walking, swimming, jogging or lifting weights 3 to 5 times a week to increase your dopamine levels.
C) Supplements – L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that is the building block for dopamine. It‘s also a precursor to thyroid hormones, so therefore useful to increase low energy levels, boost alertness, as an appetite suppressant, thyroid function and to increase sexual desire.
L-Phenylalanine is also a precursor to dopamine as well as many other important neurotransmitters. It’s a natural mood booster and antidepressant, curbs sugar and stimulant cravings, helps in controlling pain, particularly arthritis and is used to help treat Parkinson’s disease. L-Phenylalanine also helps forms another energizing brain chemical called PEA (phenylethylamine), (also found in chocolate) which is believed to be the chemical most responsible for feelings of euphoria. Yeah baby!
(Do not take L-Tyrosine or L-Phenylalanine if you are suffering from high blood pressure, PKU or melanoma.)
I personally take both L-Tyrosine and L- Phenylalanine everyday and they work wonders for me.
2) Serotonin – Serotonin is the neurotransmitter largely responsible for regulating moods and emotions. When your serotonin levels are good, you tend to feel confident, positive, and easygoing.
If you’re low in serotonin—you’ll tend to become negative, obsessive compulsive worried, irritable and have trouble sleeping. Most antidepressants primarily boost serotonin. Over 90% of your serotonin is made in your gut, so a lot of the time lack of serotonin is a gut health issue.
For people with low serotonin levels, they are most likely to crave alcohol, carbs, white flour, sugar and opiates (heroin, painkillers). These substances can mimic serotonin and lead to a brief increase in serotonin levels, making the person feel temporarily better but having nasty crashes when the levels drop again.
How to boost serotonin –
A) Diet – Serotonin is created from tryptophan in our diet and tryptophan is found in foods like beef, chicken, dairy products, eggs, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, pork, turkey and whey protein.
B) Sunlight – The deficiency of Vitamin D has substantial medical and psychological consequences. Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the brain, heart, immune system and muscles, which means vitamin D, is needed at every level for the body to function.
Vitamin D activates the genes that release dopamine and serotonin. So make sure you get at least 15 minutes of sun a day or take a vitamin D-3 supplement (1,000 IU daily for every 11 kilos or 25 pounds of total body weight).
C) Exercise – Exercise increases both serotonin production and release. In particular, aerobic exercises, like running and biking, are the most likely to boost serotonin. Numerous studies have shown exercise to be more effective at treating depression than antidepressants.
D) Supplements – 5-HTP 5-HTP (5-hydroxy L-tryptophan) is a naturally occurring metabolite of the amino acid tryptophan. 5-HTP is converted in the brain to serotonin (Caution: Not to be used when taking MAO inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or other anti-depressant medications.)
B-Complex– All of the B vitamins are vital for energy and the production of serotonin and are used up rapidly in times of stress.
Calcium/Magnesium – Both calcium and magnesium are precursors to serotonin production, so it’s important to be getting plenty in your diet. I always take calcium and magnesium at night with dinner and notice a huge difference with my stress levels and sleep.
3) GABA – GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is your brain’s natural valium. If you’re high in GABA—you feel relaxed and stress-free. If you are low in GABA—you feel anxious, irritable, overwhelmed, stressed and wired.
When you are low in GABA, you tend to have anxiety attacks, carbohydrate and alcohol cravings, ringing in the ears, muscle tension (especially in neck and back), trembling/twitching muscles, numbness or tingling in fingers, your breathing may be too fast and too shallow, excessive sweating, heart palpitations and insomnia.
Alcohol, marijuana, valium and heroin all boost GABA in the brain and body. This is why a person severely deficient in GABA, which may be genetic or acquired from stress and trauma, will turn to alcohol and drugs and are much more likely to become addicted.
This is part of the reason why people find it so hard to stop using substances that they know are not good for them. Once they stop, their GABA goes down and they feel anxious, overwhelmed and unable to sleep.
How to boost GABA –
A) Yoga – A recent study followed two groups of healthy individuals over a 12-week period. One group practiced yoga three times a week for one hour, while the remaining subjects walked for the same period of time. Those who practiced yoga reported a greater decrease in anxiety and higher levels of GABA than those who walked.
B) Supplements –L-Theanine an amino acid found in green tea increases levels of GABA within the brain, increases the production of alpha brainwaves, as well as boosting focus and mental clarity. Study show that l-theanine is useful in the treatment of anxiety due to its ability to calm the nervous system, counteracting the toxic effects of stress as well as improving sleep.
Passion Flower extract has been shown boost GABA to aid in relaxation, and reduce tenseness and restlessness without creating dependency.
L-Glutamine – Glutamine is amazing for alcohol, sugar and carb cravings. It also repairs the lining of the gut and is an all-around wonder amino acid.
(Caution: Do not take GABA support if taking anti-epileptics or Benzodiazepines or other sleep meds. Or if you have been drinking heavily)
Please check with your doctor before taking any supplements
If you would like to know more, my two favorite books on the topic are:
The Mood Cure: The 4-Step Program to Take Charge of Your Emotions by Julia Ross
How To Quit Without Feeling S**T: The Fast, Highly Effective Way To End Addiction To Caffeine, Sugar, Cigarettes, Alcohol, Illicit Or Prescription Drugs by Patrick Holford
Chromium Polynicotinate or GTF Chromium
When you quit smoking, your blood sugar can become lower than when you were a smoker, since you are not having that blood sugar boost when you smoke. Taking chromium is an excellent way to regulate your blood sugar, while keeping yourself feeling balanced and calm while quitting smoking.
Chromium is a mineral that is is often deficient in the soil and is essential for a healthy blood sugar balance.
Studies have shown Chromium Polynicotinate is more effective than Chromium Picolinate (the more commonly known form of chromium, used to treat type 2 diabetes and promote weight loss) when it comes to blood sugar balance.
Chromium is essential for the absorption of sugar into the body’s cells via insulin. When sugar is not transferred into the cells to be used as energy then your body must move it away from the blood vessels to prevent damage to the vessels.
So, where does the body transfer the sugar to prevent it from causing harm? Initially, to the liver to be saved as glycogen for upcoming use. However, the liver can only store a limited amount so the surplus glucose is then moved to your body’s fat cells to be stockpiled as fat.
When your body has good levels of chromium, a healthy blood sugar balance is more easily acquired since your body is able to use greater amounts of sugar for energy rather than storing it as fat.
Since it normalizes your blood sugar, it helps to control your appetite. Chromium will also help your body deal with stress as it reduces elevated cortisol levels.
Dosage: GTF Chromium Polynicotinate - 200mcg with food 2 x a day
L-Glutamine is an amino acid most often used for repairing the gut and muscle recovery after workouts, but it has many other amazing benefits. It's a helpful supplement to take when you are in the withdrawal process. L-Glutamine is very useful for reducing alcohol, cigarette, sugar and carb cravings and is often used in programs for drug and alcohol addiction.
It also repairs the intestinal lining, calms you down and is an all-around wonder amino acid.
L-Glutamine helps to build muscle, as well as stabilizes blood sugar levels so it's also a great supplement to take to prevent weight gain after quitting smoking.
Taking L-Glutamine may also help decrease anxiety, as it increases levels of gamma- aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is your brain’s natural valium. If you’re high in GABA-you feel relaxed and stress-free. If you are low in GABA-you feel anxious, irritable, overwhelmed, stressed and wired.
Alcohol, marijuana, valium and heroin all boost GABA in the brain and body, which is a big part of why we get addicted to those substances.
L-Glutamine can also improve mental clarity. If you feel “foggy headed” and have trouble focusing once you quit, L-Glutamine can be very helpful. It's absorbed into the brain quickly and is then turned into glutamic acid, which is a sugar-like substance that acts as a fuel for the brain. The result is an increased ability to focus, better memory and increased alertness.
For the first 2 or 3 weeks after quitting, take 1000-2000 mgs of L-Glutamine every 5 to 6 hours to reduce your withdrawal symptoms. You can put L-glutamine powder under your tongue to stop intense cravings quickly.
Caution: Do not take L-Glutamine for extended periods of time unless you are also doing regular exercise, which will help to use up the L-Glutamine because there is some controversy whether L-Glutamine is beneficial or harmful for long-term use.
Dosage: L-Glutamine - 2000 mgs before breakfast, and before lunch and mid- afternoon as needed.
Click here to read my recommended supplement chart.
Smokers are found to have below average levels of Vitamin C – in a pack a day smoker as much as 40 percent. Cigarettes drain your body of Vitamin C by breaking down and excreting it much faster than normal. Smoking uses up around 25 milligrams of vitamin C per cigarette, so if you are a pack a day smoker, you are depleting your body of 500 mg a day.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that works to sustain the health of the body’s connective tissue as well as performing as an antioxidant. Your body needs to ingest vitamin C or vitamin C containing foods, on a daily basis to maintain necessary levels.
Your body does not make vitamin C on its own, and it doesn’t store it. So it is essential that you take supplemental vitamin C, as well as include fruits and veggies that contain vitamin C in your daily diet.
The benefits of vitamin C include boosting your immune system and neurotransmitters, balancing blood sugar, as well as giving you protection against cancer, heart disease, prenatal health issues, eye disease and premature aging.
When it comes to hormones and neurotransmitters, Vitamin C is often overlooked. Vitamin C is needed for the conversion of several neurotransmitters that, in turn, make up our adrenal and thyroid hormones and neurotransmitters, like dopamine and melatonin.
These hormones help to regulate your metabolism, increase focus, and boost your ability to cope with stress and relax.
Without Vitamin C, we cannot make collagen, the stuff that makes our skin elastic and helps it to appear radiant and youthful. It also protects our joints and helps wounds heal. Since smoking depletes Vitamin C, this is part of why smokers age faster and recover from surgery slower.
Vitamin C works on the immune system by helping to produce anti-virals and increasing the integrity of the mucous membranes, which help us to stop bacteria and viruses from entering the body.
It’s found that smokers are sick more often, which is directly related to low vitamin C levels, and the damage smoking causes to the mucus membranes.
Are you starting to see how important Vitamin C is and why it’s important for you to make sure you are getting enough? This is true for all people but it’s essential when you are a smoker and in the process of stopping smoking.
Vitamin C for cigarette cravings
Suck on a chewable vitamin C tablet each time you want a cigarette or make your own vitamin C spray.
You can make vitamin C spray yourself. Vitamin C powder is inexpensive and easy to find. Just find a small empty spray bottle and make your own. Just take plain Vitamin C crystals (available from any health food store, and many online suppliers), dissolve as much as you can in a given amount of water.
Spray the back of your tongue and throat every time you want a cigarette or you can gargle with it. Other ways are to suck on a chewable vitamin C, drink the vitamin C solution, or just take vitamin C tablets in the usual way.
Vitamin C will help you to stop smoking by reducing your desire to smoke, and also helps to control hunger cravings which in turn reduces weight gain after quitting.
All of these strategies mentioned above will help you to stop smoking, and reduce food cravings at the same time.
HINT: Because vitamin C is somewhat acidic, I recommend rinsing your mouth with water afterward. If you are sensitive to acidity, you can also buy buffered vitamin C powder, such as calcium ascorbate, or non-acidic sodium ascorbate, or use the non- acidic chewable form. All these types of vitamin C are available at grocery; health food stores or online.
Warning: If you are a woman and, especially if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, please take vitamin C with bioflavonoids and don’t take large doses for long. Vitamin C without bioflavonoids can prevent pregnancy and even induce a miscarriage, as it can interfere with hormone levels.
Dosage: Vitamin C - Up to 5000 mg of Vitamin C a day. Take a 250 mg chewable or Vitamin C spray every time you have a craving.
The deficiency of Vitamin D has substantial medical and psychological consequences. Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the brain, heart, immune system and muscles, which means vitamin D is needed at every level for the body to function.
Vitamin D activates the genes that release dopamine and serotonin. So make sure you get at least 15 minutes of sun a day or take a vitamin D-3 supplement
Dosage: Vitamin D - 1,000 IU daily for every 11 kilos or 25 pounds of total body weight so if you weigh 150 pounds or 68 kgs, take 6000 ui a day.
Read my next post about magnesium, fish oils, NAC & Mag07 to calm the nervous system, detox and combat constipation.
When you quit smoking, you may temporarily turn into a seething, angry asshole. Or a weepy, emotional mess. This is partly due the chemical changes that occur within the brain and partly due to the fact you have used smoking as a way to deal with your emotions.
When your coping mechanism is taken away, your subconscious mind may overwhelm you and trigger a stress response in your nervous system and everything seems much more intense. This is annoying and incredibly frustrating for you, and the people around you.
Magnesium is an important mineral for proper nerve function. It calms the nervous system and helps relieve the stress of withdrawal symptoms. Magnesium is called ‘The Relaxing Mineral.” Magnesium is also essential for normal lung function. It acts as a bronchodilator, which allows for easier breathing.
One of the primary minerals that become deficient through smoking cigarettes is magnesium since it’s used in the body’s natural heavy metal detox process. When you take in heavy metal toxins from regular use of cigarettes, your magnesium reserves get used up very quickly. As a non-smoker, you will need to rebuild your magnesium levels, especially if you want to feel relaxed.
Greens are one of the best ways to add magnesium to your diet. Kelp is the highest food containing magnesium, weighing in at 760 milligrams of Magnesium per 3 1⁄2 ounces or 100 g serving. I recommend supplementing with kelp or Magnesium for an added magnesium boost.
Adding Epsom salts to a bath will also help you to relax and detox, as it floods your cells with magnesium. Take a 40-minute soak using 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salts. The first 20 minutes will help release toxins and the second 20 minutes you absorb magnesium.
I also recommend adding 1 cup of baking soda and a few drops of lavender to your bath to help increase the therapeutic effects.
Dosage: Magnesium - 200 mg to 400 mg, 2 times a day, with or without food. I recommend one of the doses before bed to help with sleep
NAC is an amino acid which is a precursor of glutathione, considered to be the most important antioxidant in the body. Glutathione plays a major role in detoxification and fighting oxidative stress. When someone gets sick or dies from a pain killer overdose, it is mostly due to the glutathione levels dropping.
NAC is commonly used in hospitals intravenously or orally for acute poisoning from pain-relieving drugs, liver failure, treatment of the flu, HIV infection and COPD. It’s extremely beneficial and protective of the liver and lungs.
If you take NAC before and after drinking alcohol, it significantly reduces hangovers or even stops you from having one. Trust me on this, I have tried this technique personally. 1200mgs before you drink and 1200 mgs before bed and you wake up feeling like you didn’t drink at all.
Studies have shown NAC to be helpful with reducing many different addictions like smoking, cocaine, marijuana, gambling as well as reducing habits like nail biting and hair pulling.
Warning: You do need to make sure you are taking Vitamin C with NAC, or you may have an increased risk of kidney stones.
Dosage: NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine) - 1200 mgs of NAC a day, with 2000 mgs of Vitamin C (to prevent kidney stones).
If you get ever constipated, my favorite supplement ever is MagO7, Oxygenating Digestive System Cleanser by Aerobic Life. When I quit smoking, I developed terrible constipation issues. I could go for up to a week without going.
I wish I knew about MagO7 back then. I take it every night, and you just wake up in the morning and go to the toilet without needing coffee and a you-know-what.
Over time undigested food and waste can build up in the intestinal tract and colon, which can be a perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Mag O7 Oxygen Cleanse works to break down and remove old debris out of your intestines and bowel.
It also targets the harmful bacteria, while magnesium works to soften the intestinal build up and remove unwanted waste.
Dosage: Mag07 - Start with 3 pills at night, and if that doesn’t do trick, try 4 or 5 the next night. You can take it anytime if you are close to a toilet, I personally take 2 or 3 a night as a maintenance dose.
If constipation is a issue, try drinking 1 tablespoon of psyllium husks (the main ingredient in Metamucil) added to a large glass of water. Drink another glass of water straight afterward, to make sure the psyllium doesn’t absorb too much water as it passes through your digestive system.
You can build up to a dosage of three times a day. Make sure you down it quickly, otherwise it’s like trying to drink sludge.
Vitamin B-3 (Niacin or Niacinamide)
I do believe that Vitamin B-3 (Niacin or Niacinamide) is one of the most important supplements you can take when it comes to treating addiction.
Nicotine and niacin occupy the same receptors in the brain, which is why it is so helpful in reducing nicotine cravings.
In 1960, Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was introduced to the benefits of B-3 by Dr. Abram Hofer who had lots of success treating alcohol addiction, depression, high cholesterol and schizophrenia with vitamin B-3.
Unsurprisingly, Bill W. was very interested in trying it and started to take 3,000 mg of vitamin B3 per day.
Within a few weeks, the depression and fatigue that troubled Bill for years was gone. Bill then gave 30 of his friends in Alcoholics Anonymous the same dosage and within months, he found vitamin B3 was very helpful for 70% of the people he gave it to.
Regrettably, many of his appointed 'medical experts' did not agree with his enthusiasm over a vitamin therapy to treat alcoholism, so he was censured by AA for promoting vitamin B-3 or niacin therapy on official AA letterhead. The Scientologists also recommend niacin to all new recruits to help detox and rid the body of addictive patterns.
Dosage: Vitamin B-3 - Niacinamide (the non-flushing form of niacin) 500 mg to 1000 mg with breakfast and lunch. You can take Niacin (the flushing form of Vitamin B-3) 50 mg with breakfast and lunch, however most people experience a red skin flushing that tingles for about 20 to 30 minutes after.
B Complex Vitamins
B vitamins help to calm and regulate the nervous system while decreasing fatigue and stress. B vitamins can also help relieve the anxiety and insomnia that commonly occur when you quit smoking.
B Vitamins are shown to lower the amino acid homocysteine, which increases brain shrinkage and may be a cause of developing Alzheimer’s. It even seems that B vitamins can decrease brain shrinkage by up to 53%, and when combined with Omega-3’s show a 70% decrease in the rate of brain shrinkage. And we all know that shrinkage isn’t good...
Your body uses more B vitamins when you are under stress. Smoking triggers the release of stress hormones in the body, while also depleting the body of B vitamins at the same time, so quitting smoking means an increased need for all the B vitamins. Ideally start taking B vitamins at least one week before you plan to quit.
Each B vitamin has distinct benefits for the body and mind. I have listed below each B vitamin individually with its functions that are most relevant for quitting smoking.
I highly recommend picking one or more of the individual B vitamins that you feel would benefit you the most, but always take a B-complex as well, because they work in conjunction with each other. Also, studies have shown that any long-term use of one B vitamin can cause a deficiency in another. So, I repeat: always take a B-Complex.
Vitamin B-1 (Thiamine): Helps to regulate the nervous system, heart and stabilize mood. Thiamine is helpful for adrenal fatigue, increasing focus, reducing stress, increasing energy and maintaining a positive attitude. A lack of B-1 can cause depression, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and irritability.
Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin): Vital for the production of healthy red blood cells which transport oxygen throughout the body. More oxygen reaching the brain means a greater capacity to stay alert. It helps prevent anemia, high blood pressure, migraines and is the vitamin that causes your urine to turn bright yellow.
Vitamin B-3 (Niacin or Niacinamide (non-flushing niacin): Also called nicotinic acid, B-3 is chemically similar to nicotine and fills the nicotine receptors in your brain relieving nicotine cravings. It also helps to dilate blood vessels, improve circulation and lower cholesterol.
Vitamin B-3 also boosts the neurotransmitter GABA, which relieves anxiety and helps you to relax. It is excellent for alcohol cravings as well. I recommend taking niacinamide which is the form of niacin that doesn’t cause the red skin or flushing that niacin causes unless you have high cholesterol, in which case, I recommend taking niacin since it is so effective at lowering cholesterol.
Vitamin B-5 (Pantothenic Acid): Helps to lower the negative effects of stress and is vital for proper adrenal function. B-5 is helpful for adrenal fatigue and also necessary for a healthy metabolism.
Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine): Helps regulate the nervous system and produce the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. B-6 is important for the control of anxiety, depression, fatigue, irritability and mood swings. B-6 helps to process fats and proteins and also helps to control cravings and weight gain that often arise when you stop smoking.
Vitamin B-7 (Biotin): Essential for the breaking down of nutritional carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Helps to stabilize blood sugar levels, strengthen hair and nails, as well as helping the body get rid of toxins.
Vitamin B-9 (Folic Acid): Folic Acid is essential for proper functioning of the nervous system and reducing the chances of birth defects. Folic acid supplements have been used to help treat depression and enhance antidepressant drugs.
Studies show that people who are lacking in folic acid do not respond as well to antidepressants, and it also plays a part in mood regulation. It lowers the effects of nicotine on the lungs and protects from cell damage which may contribute to getting cancer.
B-12 (Cobalmin): Vital for sustaining energy levels in the body. B-12 also helps to decrease cellular damage. It helps maintain a healthy digestive system. B-12 also protects against heart disease by decreasing and improving unhealthy cholesterol levels, protecting against high blood pressure and strokes.
It’s essential for healthy hair, skin, and nails. It helps in cell generation and the renewal of the skin. B-12 helps protect against cancers including breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer. Heavy smokers, drinkers, and vegetarians tend to be deficient in B-12.
Choline: This crucial nutrient is used in our liver to avoid the build-up of fat, but its most important role is in supporting your brain. Choline is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which helps with focus, memory and mental clarity.
Acetylcholine is released when you have a cigarette, so low acetylcholine is part of why you tend to feel foggy headed after quitting smoking. Eggs are an excellent source of choline.
Choline also reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which is raised by smoking. Elevated cortisol actually prunes the neurons of your brain’s memory center, which is part of why our memory tends to be worse when we are stressed.
Inositol: Helps with the metabolism of fats and cholesterol. Inositol is one of my favorite supplements for people who suffer from anxiety since it raises GABA levels which has a relaxing effect.
It has also been shown to be beneficial for treating anxiety, depression, insomnia and panic disorders. Inositol has also been found to reverse cell damage in the airways of the lungs, turning precancerous cells back to healthy ones.
Dosage: B-50 Complex - 1 with breakfast and 1 with lunch, combined with any of the individual B Vitamins you feel would be beneficial for you personally.
Read my post on Vitamin C and Vitamin D for more info on helping your body to get back into balance and quit for good.
While I don’t recommend using nicotine replacement products, I am a big fan of using supplements to help with the process of becoming a non-smoker. I personally found that, even after I quit smoking, I was still having issues with addiction.
It wasn't until I stumbled across the research of neurotransmitter imbalances and how to use supplements to balance your brain chemistry and heal addictions, that I really overcame my addictive tendencies.
You know those people who never get addicted to anything, or who never overeat or feel the need to drink? It's not that they have more willpower than you, they just happen to have a balanced brain chemistry. I believe this is a big part of why some people struggle with addiction and others don't.
I have listed several supplements I find helpful in the process of quitting smoking. Obviously you don’t have to take supplements to quit. However, for many of us, the reason we relapse and start smoking again is because we feel so crap due to imbalances in the body.
You stop smoking, expecting to feel much better, only to find weeks or even months on, that you still have terrible cravings. You may also feel irritable and foggy headed. If you have experienced this, the odds are that you are suffering from a neurotransmitter imbalance or deficiency.
I personally give every client I see to help quit smoking a B-complex, Niacinamide and Chromium to take with them. I believe it makes a massive difference in easing the withdrawal process and successfully quitting smoking for good.
The best book on the topic I have found is How to Quit Without Feeling S**t: The Fast, Highly Effective Way to End Addiction. By Patrick Holford, David Miller and Dr. James Braly.
For more information on how B vitamins help the cravings, click here
For more information on supplements to balance your blood sugar with Chromium & L-Glutamine, click here
For more information on supplements that help restore the damage - Vitamin C & D, click here
For more information on supplements to help you relax, detox (and poop)... Magnesium, NAC & Mag07 click here
Disclaimer: The claims made about the supplements listed in this post have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration and are not approved to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. You should always consult with your health care professional or doctor and read the information provided by the product manufacturer and any product label or packaging, before using any nutritional, herbal or supplement product or before beginning a diet program or starting any treatment for a health issue.
Individuals are different and may react differently to different products. You should consult your doctor about interactions between medications you are taking and nutritional supplements. Always check the product label or packaging before using any product. If you find any discrepancies, you should follow the information provided on the product label or packaging. You should contact the manufacturer directly for clarification as to product labeling and packaging details and recommended use.
Caroline Cranshaw is not liable for any information provided with regard to recommendations regarding supplements for any health purposes. The claims made about specific nutrients or supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Dietary and nutritional supplements are not intended to treat, prevent or cure disease. Consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, supplement or exercise program. Caroline Cranshaw is not responsible for any damages for information or services provided even if Caroline Cranshaw has been advised of the possibility of damages.
WHY IT'S BEEN SO F#*&ING HARD TO STOP...
We know it's not good for us - so why do we do it?
Nicotine, along with caffeine and alcohol, is one of the three most widely used legal drugs. According to the US surgeon-general, “Smoking will continue as the leading cause of preventable, premature mortality for many years to come.”
Approximately 1 billion people around the world smoke.
An estimated 22.5% of adults in the world
(1 billion people) smoke tobacco products (32.0% of men and 7.0% of women ).
It’s estimated that 6% of deaths in females and 11% of deaths in males each year are caused by tobacco use.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 5 million people a year die prematurely as a result of smoking. And if it keeps going the way it is, smoking will kill up to a billion people worldwide this century as stated by John Seffrin, chief executive of the American Cancer Society.
5 million people a year... That’s around 14,000 people a day, dying from smoking- related diseases.
Smoking kills more than 50% of all smokers, mainly from cancer, and even though it’s the single largest avoidable risk of premature death, there are approximately 30 million new smokers a year, as estimated by scientists.
The average smoker lives ten years less than a non-smoker and is much more likely to contract many different, horrible diseases.
So why, when we know that cigarettes are poisonous and that they make us much more likely to die of a horrible disease do we continue to smoke? Blame it on the nicotine. The main stimulant in cigarettes, nicotine, has a substantial effect even in tiny doses.
Can you remember your first cigarette? It probably tasted awful, burned your throat and lungs (if you inhaled), and made you feel dizzy and nauseous. Those are some of its toxic effects in action. A few more puffs, and for most people, the body no longer rebels. In fact, you rather like it. In short, you’re hooked.
Nicotine's mood-altering effects are somewhat unique, as it is both a stimulant and a relaxant. It causes a release of glucose (sugar) from the liver, and adrenaline, making you feel more alert and calm at the same time. When you tried quitting smoking before, did you feel anxious, achy, tired, irritable and hungrier than usual?
Did you crave sweets more than normal, feel slightly dizzy, foggy-headed or even slightly confused? If you did, you were likely experiencing low blood sugar symptoms. That’s because every cigarette you smoke triggers a small blood sugar release.
When you quit smoking, your blood sugar can become lower than before since you are no longer having that blood sugar boost from smoking.
When you smoke a cigarette, nicotine passes from the lungs to the brain within seven seconds and immediately triggers the release of a heady chemical cocktail such as acetylcholine, adrenalin, dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin.