Once you start smoking, it can feel almost impossible to quit, thanks to the addictive effects of nicotine. Believe it or not, nicotine is one of the most heavily addictive drugs in the United States, and smoking is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death. Cigarette smoking is to blame for 90% of lung cancer diagnoses in the U.S., and it’s not just those who put a cigarette up to their lips that are in danger. About 38,000 deaths a year can be attributed to secondhand smoke.
Most cigarettes in the U.S. today contain 10 milligrams or more of nicotine, which is just one of more than 4,000 chemicals found in the smoke from tobacco products. Nicotine is absorbed through the skin and mucosal lining of the nose and mouth, or in the lungs through inhalation. It can reach peak levels rapidly in both the brain and the bloodstream — It reaches the brain within 10 seconds of inhaling from a cigarette.
If you’re a smoker, you’re already aware of the harmful and dangerous effects that smoking can have on your health, as most smokers are. Nearly 35 million people attempt to quit each year, but less than 7% are successful for longer than a year without help. Some have a hard time battling the addiction, others turn to smoking in times of stress, and some are worried they’ll gain weight if they quit.
As is the usual case, it seems that nature has provided a natural remedy. If you’re trying to kick your addiction for good, you might want to try stevia.
Stevia is a plant that is native to Paraguay, most commonly used as a natural sweetener. Studies conducted by German researchers have confirmed that the herb helps to cure smoking addiction by regulating blood sugar. Researchers have found an association between a daily dose of stevia (whether whole leaf or extract) and a reduction in high blood sugar. The herb stimulates insulin secretion by acting directly upon pancreatic cells. By balancing the body’s blood sugar levels, stevia can significantly decrease the desire for sweets (as a replacement for smoking), and keep weight gain at a minimum. Stevia is also considered safe for hypoglycemics and diabetics.
Many ex-smokers have been able to break their addiction by using stevia when they feel a craving coming on. The easiest way to use it is to place the liquid form in a dropper bottle. When a craving hits you, place a few drops on your tongue and let the craving pass. If you want to stick to the most natural way possible, use a stevia leaf instead.
Stevia has also been shown to help prevent cavities, settle an upset stomach and possibly even enhance your memory. The leaves contain multiple nutrients including beta-carotene, riboflavin, calcium, magnesium and zinc. If you’d prefer to whip up a tea using stevia, simply place a tea bag full of the leaves into a cup and add hot water.
Be sure to eat a healthy diet and stock up on vitamins when you quit smoking, mainly Vitamin C, Vitamin B, calcium and magnesium. Vitamin C can help flush out the nicotine and other toxins that are in your body. Vitamin B can help you get a good night’s rest and calm your nerves, and calcium and magnesium work together to reduce stress.