Smoking is more that a bad habit. It’s a threat to the smoker’s health and those around them. Unfortunately, it is highly addictive, and quitting is a challenge. Seemingly impossible for some. Natural ways to quit smoking can be helpful if you’re ready to make a change for the better.

In the following excerpt from Secret Food Cures Joan and Lydia Wilen provide some natural aides to stop smoking and kick the habit.


A smoking habit can cause, contribute to or worsen backaches, bronchitis, cataracts, emphysema, gum problems, hangovers, infertility, osteoporosis, phlebitis, sleep disorders (including sleep apnea), sore throats, tinnitus, ulcers, varicose veins, endometriosis, heartburn, diverticulosis…and—believe us— that’s just for starters.

Smoking has been linked to every serious disease. We’ll spare you the statistics from the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society on the approximate number of Americans who die because of smoking—before they reach retirement age.

All the talk about sickness and premature death doesn’t seem to motivate smokers— especially teenagers or young adults—to stop. James A. Duke, PhD, a botanist formerly with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Maryland, has a wake-up call. He likes to remind young smokers that the habit hits men in the penis and women in the face.

“Smoking damages the blood vessels that supply the penis, so men who smoke have an increased risk of impotence. Smoking also damages the capillaries in women’s faces, which is why women [and men] smokers develop wrinkles years before nonsmokers.”

Ready to stop smoking? Hopefully the following suggestions will help make it easier.

Stop Smoking…Seriously

We are antismoking advocates, so much so that Lydia belongs to an organization that lobbies for nonsmokers’ rights. We were happy to find one more reason not to smoke—a condition called “smoker’s back.”

According to a study conducted at the University of Vermont in Burlington, back pain is more common and more frequent among smokers. Researchers theorize that the effect of nicotine on carbon monoxide levels in the blood causes the smoker to cough. This puts a tremendous strain on the back.

Yup! That’s one more good reason to STOP SMOKING!

Natural Ways to Help You Quit

• Make a list of all the reasons you want to quit smoking. You may want to divide the list into “short-term reasons,” such as wanting to be more kissable, and “long-term reasons,” such as wanting to walk your daughter down the aisle at her wedding. Keep the list handy and refer to it each time you’re about to give in and have a smoke.

• A professor of behavioral medicine suggests that when a craving comes over you, pick up a pen instead of a cigarette, and write a letter to loved ones, telling them why smoking is more important than they are. Tell them how you choose to die young and how you’ll miss sharing in their happiness. Apologize for having to have someone take care of you when you’re no longer well enough to take care of yourself. Got the picture? These, hopefully, unfinished letters may give you the strength to pass up a cigarette one more time, each time, until you no longer feel the horrible craving and want to smoke.

• The late Nobel laureate and chemist Linus Pauling, PhD, suggested eating an orange whenever you have the urge to smoke. A research group in Britain conducted experiments with smokers and oranges. The results were impressive.

■ Recipe ■

Apricot Snowballs

1 8-oz package dried apricots

11 ⁄2 cups flaked coconut

2 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar

2 tsp orange juice Sugar (optional)

Grind apricots using the medium blade of a food processor.

In a separate small bowl, combine the apricots, coconut, confectioners’ sugar and orange juice with your hands. Shape into 1 ⁄2-inch balls. Roll in sugar. Store in a tightly covered container.

Makes 30 snowballs.


By the end of three weeks, the orange eating cigarette smokers smoked 79% fewer cigarettes than they ordinarily would have, and 20% kicked the habit completely. It seems that eating citrus fruit has a kick that’s similar to smoking a cigarette.

Incidentally, when you take a piece of orange instead of smoking a cigarette, first suck the juice out and then eat the pulp.

• For many smokers, the thought of smoking a cigarette after they’ve had a citrus drink is unpleasant. If you feel that way—good! Carry a small bottle of citrus juice with you and, whenever you feel like lighting up, take a swig of the juice. And since each cigarette robs your body of between 25 and 100 mg of vitamin C, the juice will help replenish it as well as keep you from smoking.

Red Clover, Red Clover

• To help cleanse your system of nicotine, and to help prevent tumors from forming, take 1 ⁄2 teaspoon of red clover tincture (available at health food stores) three times a day. Drinking a cup of red clover tea once or twice a day may also help.

• To help detoxify your liver, drink two cups of milk thistle seed tea before every meal. In case you’re worried about gaining weight now that you’re not going to be smoking, these six cups of tea before meals may help you cut down on the amount of food you eat.

• Marjoram tea (available at health food stores) makes your throat very dry, so smoking will not be nearly as pleasurable. Marjoram is naturally sweet—nothing needs to be added to it. Have one cup of tea when you would ordinarily have your first cigarette of the day. Try 1 ⁄2 cup after that…whenever you have an uncontrollable urge to smoke.

• According to some Chinese herbalists, magnolia-bark tea is effective in curbing the desire to light up. You might want to alternate between magnolia-bark and marjoram teas.

• If you want to stop or at least cut down on your tobacco habit, after your next cigarette or cigar, replace the nicotine taste in your mouth by sucking on a small clove. After an hour or two, replace the clove with another one. Without that lingering nicotine taste in your mouth, your desire for another smoke should be greatly reduced.

Bugs Bunny’s Secret

• James A. Duke, PhD, a botanist formerly with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Maryland, smoked three packs of unfiltered, king-sized cigarettes a day—until the day he quit cold turkey. That was close to three decades ago.

According to Dr. Duke, carrots helped him quit. He would munch on raw carrots instead of puffing on a cigarette. “If cigarettes are cancer sticks,” says Dr. Duke, “carrots are anticancer sticks.”

He explains that carotenoids, the chemical relatives of vitamin A, are abundant in carrots. The carotenoids help prevent cancer, especially if they come from carrots or other whole foods rather than from capsules. Carrots also help lower cholesterol levels.

Buy a bunch of baby carrots and munch on them throughout the day.

• Apricots are rich in minerals like beta carotene, potassium, boron, iron and silica. Not only do they help prevent cancer, they are also good for the heart, for promoting estrogen production in postmenopausal women, for preventing fatigue and infection and for healthy skin, hair and nails. Apricots are especially helpful in minimizing the longterm potential harm caused by nicotine.

Start eating a few dried apricots every day and continue eating them even as a nonsmoker. (See recipe above.) Purchase unsulfured, dried apricots. Sulfur (sulfite) preservatives can produce allergic reactions, especially in asthmatics. Also, the long-term accumulation of sulfites can cause unhealthy conditions.

• In addition to eating carrots and apricots, unsalted, raw sunflower seeds are another wonderful munchie.

Tobacco releases stored sugar (glycogen) from the liver and it perks up one’s brain. Sunflower seeds provide that same mental lift.

Tobacco also has a sedative effect that tends to calm a person down. Sunflower seeds stabilize the nerves because they contain oils that are calming and B-complex vitamins that help nourish the nervous system. (Maybe that’s why baseball players often eat them during a game.)

Tobacco increases the output of adrenal gland hormones, which reduces the allergic reaction of smokers. Sunflower seeds have the same effect.

Keep in mind that the seeds are fairly high in fat, so don’t overdo it. Consider buying sunflower seeds with shells. The shelling process will slow down your consumption of the seeds.

The Dreadful Withdrawal Time

• During the worst time, the dreaded first week or two of withdrawal, push yourself to exercise—walk, swim, bowl, play table tennis, clean your house, do gardening, play with a yo-yo. Just keep moving. It will make you feel better. It will help prevent weight gain.

Incidentally, gaining five to 10 pounds because you stopped smoking is worth it when you consider the health risks of smoking. But if you follow these suggestions, and also start eating the foods in the “Six Sensational Superfoods” section, you may stop smoking and not gain any weight.

◆ Be kind to yourself and don’t place temptation in your face. Do not frequent clubs or other places where people smoke, smoke, smoke. Hang out at places where smoking is not permitted—movie theaters, museums, the library, houses of worship, adult education courses at schools, etc.

◆ Figure out how much money you’ll end up saving each year by not smoking. Decide on exactly what you want to do with that money—special treat(s) for yourself or your loved ones—and actually put that money away every time you don’t buy a pack of cigarettes when you ordinarily would have.

Once You Quit…

A nicotine-dependency researcher reported that nicotine causes smokers to process caffeine two and a half times faster than nonsmokers.

So, once you quit smoking and the nicotine is washed out of your system, you’ll need only about a third as much coffee to get the same buzz you got from drinking coffee while still smoking.

The same goes for alcoholic beverages. Take into consideration that you’ll get drunk faster without nicotine in your body.

Think of the additional money you’ll be saving on coffee and booze!

Clearing the Air

• If cigarette smokers are at your home and you don’t want to ask them not to smoke, place little saucers of vinegar around the room in inconspicuous spots. The vinegar absorbs the smell of tobacco smoke.

• Lit candles add atmosphere to a room and absorb cigarette smoke at the same time. Scented candles emit a lovely aroma that can mask the tobacco stench.

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