We all know that smoking is bad. There are more than 600 ingredients in a cigarette that include harmful substances like tar, acetone, lead, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide -- just to name a few.

There are several advantages to kicking the habit, as well as several methods to do so. All of the methods that doctors and former smokers promote are extremely difficult due to the highly addictive nature of nicotine. Patches, gum, and pills like Chantix are commonly used in the West to wean people off of these cancer-causing substances.

The ancient Indian medicinal system of Ayurveda -- still used today in much of the East -- has a different approach to quitting. Ayurvedic doctors treat not just the acute problem of nicotine dependence, but rather the patient in his or her entirety: mind, body, and spirit. Ayurveda views addictions as a malady of the mind, caused by the decision to rely on external substances instead of holistic remedies (like herbal treatments, acupuncture, yoga, exercise, and diet) to ease stress, anxiety, and other problems that people face in life.

Smoking leads to unbalanced doshas. To quit, you need to make a conscious, continuous, and sincere effort. Some gurus promote krishna consciousness (Hare Krishna) as a means of breaking the habit. The rationale? Once you become a devotee, you will be committed to living the healthiest life possible. Smoking cigarettes becomes unappealing, assisting you in your effort to quit.  

Don’t worry. This is not the only ayurvedic solution. The doshas can be balanced in several ways that will get you back on a healthy path:

    • Drink plenty of water. This will help to flush your system of toxins expeditiously. 

    • Use a neti pot in the morning and at night.

    • Practice bhastrika pranayama to cleanse the respiratory system of contaminants,— a breathing exercise also known as ‘Bellows Breath’ — in the morning and again at night.

    • Change your diet. Try a cleanse, a juice fast, or switch to only whole, light foods in small portions. Refrain from sugar, coffee, alcohol, and fatty foods until your cravings are reduced; these substances are known to trigger nicotine cravings. After you quit, food will start to taste better and better as your taste buds become restored.

    • Practice hatha yoga or exercise lightly at least once a day. If you get a craving, do a few sun salutations until your mind resets and frees itself from obsessing over that urge. Meditate and set your intention on a life free from the chains of nicotine addiction.

    • Consume these ayurvedic herbs and herbal supplements that will curb cravings and are less harmful than prescription pills: Triphala, Ashwagandha, Shatavari, Bala, and Ginseng. Rasayanas are Ayurvedic jams and tonics prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors. Chyavanprash is an example of a Rasayana used to help smokers looking to quit.

Quitting smoking is a slow yet extremely beneficial practice. If cravings become too much to bear, sit on your hands in five minute increments and chew on licorice or gum. Soon, the minutes will turn into hours; hours turns into an entire day; and days turns into weeks and months. Reward yourself for good behavior and don’t punish yourself for a minor relapse after you have begun the process of quitting. “Progress and not perfection” and “practice makes perfect” are two helpful mantras that assist in paving a path to complete and total abstinence.

The rewards are worth the struggle. You will love a longer life; the skin of the face will brighten; fertility increases; the immune system will revive itself so you will fall sick less often; you will appreciate less trips to the dentist and whiter teeth; anxiety subsides; and your mood will even out. Bring the lustre back into your life with the simple yet challenging task of quitting smoking the ayurvedic way.

Have you tried kicking cigs to the curb? What challenges did you face and what methods helped you succeed? Sharing your success story with others will encourage and inspire others!

By: Alice Jennings (G+)