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Sunday, 14 January 2018

Quitting Smoking Using Mind-Body Practices

Quitting smoking - Dr. Axe

Worldwide, tobacco use kills 7 million people each year, of which nearly 1 million are due to second-hand smoke. Smoking is also the leading cause of preventable illness and death according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Smoking increases the risk of diabetes, some types of cancer and both heart and lung disease. (1)
Quitting smoking can be tough. Fighting this addiction requires attacking it on three fronts — physically, behaviorally and cognitively. In fact, studies show that combination therapies can double or triple the chances for being successful. And, current evidence proves that mind-body practices like yoga, meditation and guided imagery may help with quitting smoking. (2, 3)
Breaking the cycle of addiction requires a rewiring of the brain to stop both the physical and the emotional cravings. The physical withdrawal symptoms experienced in the first week or two can be severe, and many who start smoking again, do so while the symptoms are at their peak.
And, it is tough to overcome the emotional aspect and break the habit. For some people, the toughest cigarette to give up may be the first cigarette of the day. For other people, it may be the after-dinner cigarette or the craving may hit the hardest while driving. (4)
While difficult, quitting smoking is a must to reduce your risk for certain types of cancer as well as heart and lung disease. The sooner you quit, the sooner your body, and your mind, can begin to heal from the addition.

What Are Mind-Body Practices?

The mind-body connection has been studied for centuries by healers of all modalities. With more research dedicated to understanding how emotional, spiritual and behavioral aspects influence our health, more answers are revealing themselves. In 2008, Georgia State University researchers declared “The Mind-Body Connection: Not Just a Theory Anymore” in a paper that recognizes how stress alters the immune system and how we fight diseases. (5)
However, the mind-body connection does go beyond just stress; the mind and the body are intertwined in all we do, and the study of this powerful connection now also takes into account our thoughts, experiences and choices. Creating a balance moves us into an optimal state of healing and balance. (6)
So, what are mind-body practices?  They are a diverse group of techniques and activities that work to connect the mind and body together to improve both physical and psychological wellness. Commonly recognized activities include: (7)
  • reiki
  • meditation
  • yoga  
  • acupuncture
  • massage therapy
  • relaxation techniques
  • spinal manipulation
To achieve this state, mind-body practices that encourage an optimal balance of mental and physical wellness are used. Meditation, yoga, visualization exercises, tai chi, hypnotherapy and biofeedback are all considered mind-body practices and while they have all been practiced for centuries, they are becoming more and more mainstream as research starts to show how effective they are in fighting disease.
More and more research is being conducted on the effectiveness of mind-body practices for fighting acute, chronic and terminal diseases including cancer, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, heart disease, high blood pressure, IBS, chronic pain, Parkinson’s Disease, PTSD and addiction. (8, 9, 10)
In fact, most cancer centers now encourage mind-body practices for those undergoing treatment as it is now recognized that uncontrolled stress has a negative impact on our system and prevents optimal healing. Leading hospitals including Memorial Sloan Kettering, the Mayo Clinic, The Cleveland Clinic and many others have entire departments devoted to integrative and alternative therapies for stress management, chronic fatigue, chronic pain and many other conditions. (11,  12, 13)
For those fighting an addiction — whether it is an addiction to tobacco, alcohol, food or another drug — getting the mind and body into harmony is key to winning the battle. In addition to the physical withdrawal symptoms, the emotional and behavioral symptoms can be overwhelming, and giving them the same weight (or greater) is key to successfully overcoming the addiction, including quitting smoking.

Benefits of Quitting Smoking

During the first hours and days after your last cigarette, your body begins the healing process as soon as you begin quitting smoking. Some of the early symptoms will make you feel worse, but they will get better. Let’s look at the healing timeline: (14)
1 Hour:  Heart rate and blood pressure drops, and circulation begins to improve.
12 Hours: Carbon monoxide from cigarettes is dispelled from the body, increasing oxygen levels.
24 Hours: The risk of heart attack begins to decrease! And, exercise becomes easier.
48 Hours:  The senses of smell and taste start to come back as the nerves begin to heal.
72 Hours:  Nicotine levels are depleted!  This is also when physical cravings reach their peak.
30 Days:  Lungs are healing and athletic endurance increases.
9 Months:  Lungs have healed themselves, and the cilia (small hairs in the lungs) have recovered.
1 Year:  The risk for coronary heart disease is decreased by 50 percent.
5 Years:  Arteries and blood vessels begin to widen, lowering the risk of stroke.
10 Years:  Chances of developing lung cancer and dying from it are cut in half. Chances of mouth, throat and pancreatic cancer are also significantly reduced.
15 Years:  Likelihood of developing coronary heart disease is equal to that of a non-smoker.
20 Years: The risk of death from lung disease and cancer drops to the level of a person that has never smoked.
In addition to this timeline, many ex-smokers will see:
  • Skin starts to glow
  • Hair becomes stronger and shinier
  • Nails return to natural color and become less brittle
  • Breath improves
  • Teeth become whiter
  • Immune system functioning improves
And, there is more money in the bank. If you smoke a pack a day — and pay the national average of $6.28 a pack — over 10 years you’ll save $22,920 if  you quit. In areas that have higher taxes, like New York City  (making cigarettes cost at least $13.00 a pack), quitting can save you nearly $50,000 over 10 years!

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