Nicotine is an inherently addictive substance and is responsible for the smoking addiction of more than 50 million Americans. This statistic is regrettable since tobacco kills more than 440,000 people a year in the US alone. The dangers related to smoking have motivated many smokers to quit, though this is no easy feat. Many long-term smokers experience withdrawal symptoms from nicotine ranging from irritability and cravings to migraines and panic attacks when they try to stop smoking. For this reason it may be advisable to consider the nicotine alternatives listed below to deal with cravings and lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
The most obvious nicotine alternative are nicotine-free e-cigarettes. These are fueled by a liquid known as e-juice. These liquids come in many different flavors and varieties. While some e-juice’s do contain nicotine, there are many that are nicotine-free. Although e-cigarettes cannot be said to be completely harmless, they are certainly a less harmful choice than your traditional cigarettes. In fact a recent study concluded that they are at least 95% safer. Professor Jean-Francois Etter, a pioneer in research on e-cigarettes, has however recognized that nicotine itself should not be demonized. Rather the focus should be on eliminating the combustion of tobacco associated with traditional cigarettes. According to this view the nicotine in e-cigarettes are no less harmful than the nicotine found in gum and patches, which are recommended for smoking cessation. The most important thing after all, is to stop smoking.
Caffeine is a natural alternative to nicotine and offers many of the beneficial effects associated with nicotine. It stimulates the central nervous system, creating a temporary sense of euphoria, and it acts as an appetite suppressant. This may be a relief for people who are fearful of weight gain once they decide to quit smoking. However caffeine, like nicotine, is itself addictive. Nevertheless a moderate caffein intake, which is less than 250mg or ten cups of coffee a day, does not pose any threats to a person’s overall health. Natural sources of caffeine include dark chocolate, black tea, green tea and of course coffee.
Herbal cigarettes or alternative cigarettes have also appeared in recent years as a substitute for traditional cigarettes. Some contain cloves, dried tendu leaves and other unusual ingredients. They come in flavors such as vanilla or cherry and are advertised as a healthy alternative. However not everyone seems to agree. It has been argued that the mere fact that these cigarettes are free from nicotine and other additives does not make them less dangerous since they still have tar and carbon monoxide.
Kava-kava is a herbal anxiety treatment and has a similar effect on the body as Xanax and Valium. It originates in the South Pacific and has been used both as a recreational drug and as a treatment for psychotic disturbances. It creates a temporary sense of wellbeing, similar to Nicotine and may help to curb many symptoms related to nicotine withdrawal such as anxiety, stress and agitation. Note that this herb has been known to cause liver damage in some individuals. It is therefore advisable to consult your health care professional before using Kava-Kava.