For those looking for reduced smoking with some damage control, here are some suggestions for the 3 levels of the problem.
i) For the respiratory level, I have found that regularly taking curd helps (ie. before smoking or in the morning). Curd is “kapha” producing and leads to more mucus as well as nourishes the epithelium and skin. By taking a bowl of curd in the morning I have found this to counter some of the damaging effects of heat and dryness that smoking causes. In addition, vitamin E, a natural product like “Slippery Elm” as well as a Himalyan products like Vasaka (as well as Flaxseed, Licorice, Elecampane, Marshmellows, Comfrey, Pippal & Guggul) can help minimise the damage on the cilia and epithelium. Another drink that helps is honey, lemon with ginger is helpful for increasing agni naturally and tulsi with green tea nourishes the throat as well as the latter being an anti-oxidant (but do not use honey if using hot water).
ii) For the circulatory system, I have been told that smoking depletes vitamin C, but have not done enough research on this. Not only does Vitamin C help with the immune system, but apparently, it might help tie up the nicotine in the blood and reduce the potential plaque formation (note Amalaki fruit has 8 times the vit C content than orange juice). Vitamin D is also important in keeping the arteries flexible (ie. eggs, salmon, cheese and plenty of Sunshine!). And, of course, any additional natural products that help reduce and regulate blood pressure. Also, as one gets older, a glass of red wine after a meal can be helpful to vasodilation and peripheral circulation.
iii) For the cellular level, I guess anything that helps to reduce free radicals or carcinogens. For this, there are numerous anti-oxidant packages out there. As far as the root cause, apart from Alan Carrs approach, it is often useful to understand the nature of the mind and see through the problem. Strengthening one’s will power through auxiliary approaches also helps. For example, getting a good Ayurvedic analysis and finding ways which not only improve health through natural remedies but also Ayurvedic foods that help strengthen one’s natural constitution. Along with this, taking up healthy exercises that counter the negative effects of smoking, such as regular cardiac aerobic workouts, which also compliments developing one’s will power.
But, from a spiritual point of view, if “pleasure” is in the senses, joy is in the mind and bliss is in the Atma or soul, then often providing a gradual substitution and sublimation of one happiness (smoking or any addiction) for another deeper one, is the most balanced and psychologically smooth approach (getting out of the cycle of “like attracts like” and the game/play of the Gunas – nature’s alternating 3 qualities).
This can be anything; through a loving sex , exercise, uplifting music, meaningful contemplation or offering the act to and with the divine. This method/way makes friends with the mind which becomes the medium through with the addiction for cigarettes can be transferred and transmuted? Otherwise, it often ends up happening due to the outcome of poor health forcing one to quit, or a decision based on foresight that re-inforces the the will power to quit. Like I said, I am looking for a solution!
Here’s the one I am on right now! I went from smoking 20-30 strong cigarettes a day to starting a detox program whilst continuing to smoke 20-30 cigarettes a day! However, I introduced some ‘light” cigarettes of the same brand into the mix, and gradually reduced the number down to 20 light cigarettes a day. I changed and reduced my diet, started exercising and listening to good music and chants, as well as singing “bhajans”! After 1 month I am now down to less than 10 light cigarettes a day and counting. I offer my smoke to the One who smokes All, and enjoy the few cigarettes I do have all the more. The process of detachment brings control automatically, and hopefully the “habit” will fall away by itself, or at least, the one who thinks he is smoking!
Alcohol has two major effects; it damages the liver (the chemical factory of the body) and it dehydrates the body, notably the brain. Ayurvedically, it also adds fire into the system and leads to anger.
The only suggestion I have for alcoholics is to visit AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)! But the usual problem with alcoholics is that they are in denial about their problem. Other than that, for all those who do like having the occasional binge, remember to leave by your bed a couple of pints of warm water before falling asleep. This will re-hydrate the brain and avoid the headache the morning after as well as reduce the number of brain cells lost from starvation!
Chronic alcoholism leads to brain atrophy and often the most marked effect is on the cerebellar lobes, which on shrinking causes loss of co-ordination and balance (Fredrick’s ataxia).