Nearly 70 percent of adult smokers want to quit smoking, according to a national survey. Conventional quit-smoking treatments, including counseling and medication, can double or triple the chances that a smoker will kick the habit successfully. For more information on quitting smoking, visit smokefree.gov, the National Cancer Institute’s quit-smoking resource.
Some people also try complementary health approaches to help them quit smoking. Here are 5 things you should know about what the science says about several complementary health approaches for quitting smoking:
- Current evidence suggests that several mind and body practices may help people quit smoking. A few studies have found that mind and body practices such as meditation-based therapies, yoga, and guided imagery (a relaxation technique) can help reduce cigarette use and cravings.
- Research results on other mind and body practices, including acupuncture and hypnosis, show little evidence of benefit. A 2010 systematic review of the scientific literature concluded that hypnotherapy did not provide any greater effect on the rates of quitting than 18 other therapies or no treatment. A 2011 systematic review of acupuncture studies found no consistent evidence that acupuncture is effective for smoking cessation, but that firm conclusions can’t be drawn because of the limited quality and quantity of available evidence.
- There is no current evidence that any dietary supplement helps people quit smoking. A few studies have been conducted on the dietary supplements S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), silver acetate, lobeline (from the herb Lobelia inflata), and St. John’s wort, but none has been shown to be effective. The natural product cytisine, primarily used in Central and Eastern European countries for smoking cessation, is not currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but has been shown to be effective in helping smokers quit.
- The mind and body practices discussed here are generally considered safe for healthy people when they’re performed appropriately. If you have any health problems, talk with both your health care provider and the complementary health practitioner/instructor before starting to use a mind and body practice.
- If you are considering a dietary supplement, remember that “natural” does not necessarily mean “safe.” Some supplements have side effects, and some may interact with drugs or other supplements to produce adverse effects. In particular, St. John’s wort has been shown to interact with many drugs.