Using herbs to stop smoking could be a good idea or a bad idea. It all depends on the herb. Here’s a look at some of the herbs that are sold as stop-smoking aids.
Lobelia is also called “Indian tobacco”. It has properties very similar to nicotine, which means the risk of using it can also be similar. Even though herbalists sometimes still recommend it, there are several scientific studies showing it is ineffective. Side effects of lobelia include nausea, vomiting and dizziness.
Goldenseal has a long history of use as an herbal medicine. It is believed to be beneficial for the liver and the digestive system. It may have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial activity. There are no scientific studies concerning the benefit of the herb for smokers. Many people take it on a regular basis, even though there can be serious side effects, including depression, nervousness, rapid heartbeat and breathing problems.
St. John’s Wort is most often recommended for treating depression. It is regulated as a medicine in Europe, but is sold as a dietary supplement in the U.S. It is one of the best-studied herbal stop smoking aids. However, the benefits seen in the studies were typically no better than those seen with a placebo, an inactive substance.
The side effects of St John’s Wort may include fatigue, sedation, confusion, dizziness and digestive problems.
Many products on the market contain multiple ingredients, rather than a single one. It’s different if you buy an herb directly from an herbalist or a natural healthcare practitioner. The other ingredients you may see in mass-produced products include:
- Echinacea – supports immune system function
- Ginger – a natural anti-inflammatory
- Kelp – provides essential minerals
- Dandelion root – a liver tonic
- Bilberry – an antioxidant-rich berry
Those 5 ingredients are generally recognized as safe and should cause no side effects unless you have an allergy or sensitivity. They have all been used as foods.
The other ingredients in some herbal stop smoking aids are a little different. For example, one product contains cascara sagrada (sacred bark). This botanical has been recognized as a laxative since at least the 1600s. Yet, there is no warning on the product label concerning the use of this product.
The bottom line is that any herb may cause unwanted side effects. They should be used with caution, just as you would use a drug with caution. Many of today’s drugs are actually synthetic versions of herbal remedies.
Homeopathic remedies are not the same as the herbs to stop smoking. Homeopathic ingredients have been tested for hundreds of years. They do not cause side effects. While many people get herbal and homeopathic remedies confused, they are quite different. If you want the safest choice, homeopathic is the way to go.
Pat Johnson is a former smoker who tried – and tried – and tried to quit for years, before finally discovering Smoke Remedy and quitting for good. She’s passionate about helping other people learn how to successfully quit smoking and get on with their lives. She blogs on SmokeRemedy.com and has a free quit smoking email series that has helped hundreds of people quit smoking.