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Smoking Cessation—Beating the Need to Smoke

Dr. Chris D. Meletis

If you ask a dozen smokers why they smoke, you will get twelve different explanations as to why they think tobacco seems to be an indispensable habit that they cannot get rid of.  The reasons range from “it calms me;” “it makes me feel happier;” “it is the way I de-stress;” to, “ever since the first time I smoked I couldn’t put it down;” “my whole family smokes;” “it is a social thing” or the ultimate “I don’t know.”

Regardless of why a person smokes, there is some definite chemistry at play within the body that it goes way beyond just nicotine, which clearly has a well-defined direct effect and also has more subtle, yet powerful effects, on the brain chemical (neurotransmitter) called dopamine.

A Closer Look at Smoking

In the practice of medicine, one learns about the struggles of humanity.  Doctors usually have patients at different phases of smoking cessation. Some have stopped smoking over the years, others have started smoking and others have stopped, started and stopped again.  So what is the magical recipe for success?

Understanding the Chemistry of Smoking

When any person is stressed, they find a way to cope with it.  Most everyone either self-soothes or medicates (with prescription medications, alcohol, tobacco, food or herbal/supplemental medicine).  The other option is to become aloof and distant to the people and circumstances around you, which ultimately leads to relationship challenges because ignoring life’s stresses cause one to become emotionally distant to friends, family and loved ones.

Though human beings are very different than the animal kingdom around us, we do share a common habit: self-medications. If you have a cat or dog that goes outdoors, at times they will nibble and gnaw on plants because they are seeking something they are craving, be it a nutrient, vitamin or mineral.  Likewise, after a walk or workout on warm day, something salty sounds pretty good for the next meal or snack.

The same applies for smoking, it either meets a specific need or an alternate need that the body is either lacking or perceives is insufficient. Knowing this allows you to be victorious over smoking.

Stress is the Enemy

It is all a matter of chemistry.  When we are stressed we rob our contentment brain chemical “dopamine” to make the stress hormones norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and epinephrine (adrenaline).  Put simply, we are not content when stressed, which triggers the making of adrenaline.  See the simple diagram below:

Dopamine > Norepineprhine (noradrenaline) > Epinepherine (adrenaline)

Simple and Effective Solutions

Here are simple step–by-step approaches to smoking cessation:

#1 Find new ways to de-stress and when you do get stressed, remember that the old habit of smoking is no longer an option, no matter how badly you want to smoke.   Patients will often drink green tea.  However, drinking green tea alone won’t get you enough l-theanine to increase your alpha waves and GABA (calming brain chemistry).  It is advisable to take 200 mg each morning, noon, mid-afternoon and evening, and when stressed take an extra dose.  This helps maintain the calm.

#2 Avoid triggers. We all know certain circumstances that make us feel a certain way.  If something, someone or someplace has always been associated with smoking, these are considered triggers.  Be aware of these triggers and either take L-theanine or another calming herb beforehand or find another way to control the stress. You could also just simply avoid the circumstance until you have a few weeks of not smoking under your belt.

#3 Nourish the body with B vitamins such as a good B complex, a natural energy product like Zenrise[LC1] and stress supporting herbs such as rhodiola, ashwaghanda, ginseng, etc. Also take your vitamin C on a daily basis.

#4 Never become sleep deprived or hungry. It is a well-known fact that everyone trying to beat any addiction should avoid entering a vulnerable state.  Sleep deprivation and hunger are both primal triggers that turn your body into a massive craving machine.

#5 Support dopamine levels. There are 3 simple ways to support your brain chemistry when it comes to addiction.

  • Exercise regularly, and when stressed take a 5 to 10 minute brisk walk
  • Take mucuna pruriens, a botanical support that helps bolster dopamine levels
  • Take tyrosine, an amino acid support that helps support the stress pathway

Bottom line:

When you are ready, you will be successful in smoking cessation.  As with all important projects, it may take a little bit of work, yet all good things are worth working for.  You must do it first and foremost for yourself, but also remember the ones around you want you to have a longer, healthier life as well.  Work closely with your healthcare provider to customize a successful plan.

Reasons Why We Must Limit Sugar Intake

We live in a world that has changed a lot over the last 2 to 3 decades when it comes to dietary intake of sugar. It was reported back in the United States (1969-1974), during the Nixon presidency, that there was a big shift in sugar intake and form of sugar (high fructose corn syrup). From the 1970s onwards obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s (often called Type 3 diabetes), heart disease and cancer have all soared.

High fructose corn syrup has been associated with increased blood pressure, gout, lowered immune system, lowered immune response and protective capacity, dental caries and much more. The problem with sugar these days is how pervasive it has become. Sizes of sugary drinks have gone from 8 ounces to 20 ounces+ per serving. Likewise candy bars, cookies and even bread items contain more sugar than ever.

We must limit sugar intake, as it accelerates disease, feeds cancer and infections, and contributes to dementia risk. Furthermore, when blood sugars increase with pre-diabetes and diabetes, the trillions of cells within our body become damaged due to a process called glycation. You can think of healthy cells as popcorn, and as sugar rises the cells become caramelized, like Cracker-Jacks (caramel corn), which are tougher, more brittle and sticky.

Moderation is the key. It is best to consume one’s sugary foods in the form of fresh fruit and to minimize the consumption of junk foods that are sold virtually everywhere, yet should come with a warning message: “This product can shorten your life and contribute to disease.”

It’s Time to Go Nuts for Berries!

If you have been craving some berries, it is time to feed your appetite. It has been reported in the journal Cancer Prevention Research that anthocyanins as found in blueberries, bilberries, grapes and black raspberries can help the innate ability of the human body to fend off cancer risks.

The fact is though that berries are often not affordable for many people due to increasing agricultural costs. There is great news as stated by a co-author of the study that reported, “Now that we know the anthocyanins in berries are almost as active as whole berries themselves, we hope to be able to help prevent cancer in humans using a standardized mixture of anthocyanins,” said study co-author, Gary D. Stoner, PhD, professor of internal medicine at Ohio State University.

So, indeed the use of a supplement capsule with standardized anthocyanins can be just what the doctor ordered, when incorporated with a health promoting diet and lifestyle. My preferred sources of anthocyanins include grape seed extracts and bilberry. As the saying goes food is our best medicine, so if you do have some fresh berries hand, it is time to devour them. However if that is not the case, remember the buzz word from this research is “anthocyanins” and you may choose to add this in the form of nutritional supplements.


Health Tips On the Go!

Improve Posture

  • 1.Avoid slouching. Be aware of your posture as you walk, sit, and drive, keep shoulders squared and head pulled back and up.

  • 2.Imagine a thread pulling the top of your head toward the ceiling. Visualization can help improve your sense of position.

  • 3.If your job requires you to sit for long periods, take frequent breaks to stand, stretch and shake it out.

  • 4.Maintain a strong core to help support proper posture. Add core-training exercises to your daily routine.

  • 5.A firm mattress and ergonomic pillow help achieve proper back support while you sleep, so you'll stand straighter in the a.m.

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