Essential Oils: The Breakdown
There is a whole industry out there dedicated to helping you quit smoking. From nicotine replacement therapies (nicotine gum, the nicotine patch, etc.) to pills and e-cigarettes there are so many different products and treatments to choose from. One of the ways you may not have heard about to help you quit smoking is using aromatherapy and essential oils.
I have to confess I was not familiar with this subject myself. It might help to learn a little more about what exactly aromatherapy and essential oils are. Then we can learn about which essential oils can help you, along with the pros and cons of using aromatherapy and essential oils to help you quit smoking.
What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils from plants and plant material (leaves, stems, petals, roots) to help manage and improve a wide variety of physical and physiological ailments. People who practice aromatherapy – aroma therapists – believe that essential oils can help stimulate the body and mind in ways that traditional, evidence-based medicine cannot.
Aromatherapy treatments are applied in three different ways:
- Diffusing them in the air around you
- Inhaling them directly from vaporizers
- Having them applied directly to the skin
The Sweet Smell of Pepper
For most people, the hardest part about quitting smoking is controlling cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Your body constantly crying out for nicotine can cause:
The easiest thing in the world would be to just reach out for a cigarette and make all the pain go away. This is where aromatherapy and essential oils can help you. These are a few of the most popular and recommended essential oils to help with smoking cessation:
- Black pepper oil (piper nigrum) is said to be one of the most effective quit smoking oils because inhaling it stimulates the respiratory system in a way that mimics cigarette smoke, which helps reduce cravings and anxiety.
- Angelica oil (angelica archangelica) also known as the “oil of angels”, angelica oil, when inhaled, reduces cravings and helps people stop smoking for longer than without inhaling the vapor.
If you are still not convinced on the efficacy of essential oils, there are studies that show its effectiveness. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that within a test group of 20 participants, those who inhaled a drop of black pepper oil had their cravings for nicotine reduced drastically, compared to the participants who were given a placebo.
In the same study, participants who were given a drop of angelica oil to inhale waited much longer to smoke again, compared to those who were given a placebo. So, we can take from this that, taken together black pepper oil and angelica oil can aid people in lessening their cravings and prolonging their abstinence.
A Few Drops More
We have already talked about how black pepper oil and angelica oil can help manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms, but here are few other essential oils that can help you quit smoking:
- Lavender, chamomile and bergamot oils can be mixed together and applied topically (meaning directly onto the skin) to ease cravings and reduce smoking-related anxiety.
- Citrus oils (lemon, grapefruit, orange) are said to cause positive feelings whenever they are inhaled, which can help you whenever you feel irritable or nervous because of nicotine withdrawal.
- Ylang-Ylang oil is oil that can be used while you are sleeping. Putting a few drops on your pillow or onto a tissue and placed near your head can alleviate stress and anxiety. It can also be used during the day when your cravings creep up on you.
Pros and Cons
Now would be a good time to talk about the pros and cons of using essential oils to help you quit smoking. Let’s talk about the pros first:
- Aromatherapy and essential oils are a natural, healthy and organic way to help you ease your cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
- They are easy to use and relatively cheap.
- They do not come with any added side effects.
- They can be used alongside other smoking cessation treatments.
- Aromatherapy is not medicine, nor is it a miracle cure.
- It does not work for everybody.
- They are yet to be conclusively proven as effective.
Do essential oils really work?
That is a question you have to answer yourself. The studies mentioned in this article only showed that essential oils can help reduce or ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms, not eliminate them altogether. Aromatherapy and the use of essential oils are classified as complementary therapy, so they are aids and tools that work alongside traditional, scientifically proven treatments, like NRTs or smoking cessation pills.
If you want to find out if aromatherapy and essential oils really works for you then you should go ahead and try it.