Five alternative therapies to help you quit smoking


Hypnotherapy might be able to help with quitting smoking by implanting subconscious suggestions of being disgusted by cigarettes or removing the desire to smoke. — AFP

Getting in touch with a healthcare professional and following their advice remains the best way to benefit from personalised support when it comes to quitting smoking, but some people look to boost their chances of long-term success with back-up or side-effect relief from alternative methods.

Whether they're well-known – and popular – or considered unusual, so-called alternative approaches have been used by many people as an aid in their quitting journey, whether or not they have been backed by science.

Here are some of the complementary solutions proposed by health professionals to boost a person's chances of putting an end to their smoking habit for good:

> Hypnosis

Defining hypnosis authoritatively is no easy task, as there are many different interpretations.

According to Oxford Languages, it is "the induction of a state of consciousness in which a person apparently loses the power of voluntary action and is highly responsive to suggestion or direction".

In the words of Medicinenet, "therapeutic hypnosis (hypnotherapy) is a technique.. [that| uses focused attention, intense concentration and relaxation to help people overcome certain psychological conditions".

In the case of quitting smoking, hypnosis can work on addictive behaviour by suggesting disgust with cigarettes, or freedom from them without cravings or feelings of frustration.

Success rates can vary significantly, depending on the hypnotherapist chosen and the individual.

> Acupuncture

Restoring the harmonious circulation of energy – the famous qi – throughout the body to achieve or maintain good health is one of the main foundations of acupuncture, one of the branches of traditional Chinese medicine.

All this is achieved through the use of very fine needles which a professional inserts into specific points known as acupuncture points (a specific area on each side of the nose, for example).

In the case of smoking cessation, the aim is essentially to reduce nicotine cravings, or to alleviate certain side effects that are frequent during the process of quitting; such as feelings of hunger, stress, fatigue and irritability.

ALSO READ: Chinese acupuncture treats mental health conditions by 'rewiring' your qi pathways

> Herbal medicine

Certain plants can have an effect on our bodies, and therefore, on our health and well-being, whether in the realm of sleep, digestion, stress or libido.

There are also some plants, perhaps not as well known, that can help someone quit smoking – or at least relieve some of the symptoms associated with quitting.

One such plant is ginseng, which can help combat fatigue, stress and anxiety, while improving one's ability to concentrate.

Meanwhile, valerian is known for its calming and soothing properties, and its ability to relieve nervous tension, stress and anxiety.

Naturopaths are the health professionals best placed to help smokers quit using the power of plants.

> Aromatherapy

Like plants, essential oils can also help smokers – or former smokers – stay smoke-free, again by combating the most common symptoms that accompany the process.

While there are no essential oils that can stop the cravings associated with smoking cessation, there are plenty that can help with other side effects of the process: fatigue (black spruce, Scots pine), stress (lemon balm, lavender), irritability (marjoram) and coughs (eucalyptus, cajeput).

Consult a naturopath to determine whether aromatherapy could be an appropriate complementary method for facilitating your process of quitting smoking.

> AI?

While it may seem surprising, artificial intelligence (AI) could help some smokers quit for good.

British researchers have developed an AI-based mobile application, Quit Sense, which works to detect smoking triggers and helps smokers avoid withdrawal in real time via supportive messages.

Considered effective following an initial trial involving over 200 smokers, the application is very similar to other stop-smoking support services that use text messages, except that with such programmes, it is generally the smoker who must reach out to make contact when they feel the need for support. – AFP Relaxnews

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