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Copyright 2013 Natural Standard (
June 2012

Eating More Fruits and Vegetables May Help Smokers Quit

Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables may help smokers quit, according to a new study.

Tobacco contains nicotine, a highly addictive drug, in addition to the 69 chemicals known to cause cancer. All major medical institutions acknowledge that quitting smoking greatly increases a person's health prospects.

Nicotine is the most abundant psychoactive drug in tobacco products that produces dependence. Nicotine can produce both excitation and stimulation along with relaxation at the same time, making it a very attractive drug for addictive personalities. Both smoking tobacco and smokeless tobacco (chewing, dipping) can lead to nicotine dependence. Chewing and dipping tobacco is placed between the lip and gums or in the cheek. Nicotine dependence is the most common form of chemical dependence in the United States. Research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol. Examples of nicotine withdrawal symptoms include irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and increased appetite.

Many different approaches are used to help smokers quit. The pharmacological approach often contains various nicotine replacement therapies, such as the patch, nicotine gum or lozenges, or even a nicotine inhaler. Some alternative therapies include certain herbal combinations, such as kava and chamomile, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and relaxation therapy. Some individuals simply pick a quit date and stick with it.

In a new study, researchers conducted a population-based study on a random selection of 1,000 smokers at least 25 years-old to evaluate the potential effects fruit and vegetable consumption may have on smoking intensity and dependence over the course of 14 months.

The researchers found that participants who ate more fruits and vegetables smoked fewer daily cigarettes, scored lower on the Nicotine Dependence Syndrome Scale and lasted a longer period of time without smoking. Furthermore, participants who ate the most fruits and vegetables were over three times more likely to successfully refrain from smoking for at least 30 days by the 14 month follow-up period than those who ate the least.

The authors concluded that eating a lot of fruits and vegetables may be beneficial for smokers trying to quit. Well-designed clinical trials are needed to further evaluate these findings.

Many other integrative therapies have been studied for their potential effects on smoking habits. Sensory cues associated with cigarette smoking can suppress certain smoking withdrawal symptoms, including the craving for cigarettes. Inhalation of black pepper essential oil may reduce cravings and physical symptoms associated with cigarette smoking withdrawal. Additionally, early research indicates that auricular acupressure may help with quitting smoking. Further research is needed to confirm these results.

For more information about integrative therapies for smoking cessation, please visit Natural Standard's Comparative Effectiveness Database.

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  1. Haibach JP, Homish GG, Giovino GA. A Longitudinal Evaluation of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Cigarette Smoking. Nicotine Tob Res. 2012 May 21. View Abstract
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright 2013 Natural Standard Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited.