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Medically reviewed by, Russell Braun RPH
Let’s face it, quitting smoking is not easy. In fact, it can be one of the most difficult habits to kick. Some experts even think that nicotine may be just as addictive as cocaine or heroin. Withdrawal symptoms can be powerful, which also make it hard to quit. That may have you wondering if essential oils can be used for smoking cessation?
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are are distilled and prepared from natural plant oils. They are said to be the essence of the plant. Various chemicals plants produce can have medicinal effects. Therefore several different parts of the plant may be used to create essential oils, such as:
The compounds often give off a scent that the plant may be known for. These pleasant smells become powerful when concentrated as an essential oil. In addition, they tend to provide important functions to plants such as protection or assisting pollination.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years in a practice known as aromatherapy.
What Is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is when essential oils are used to help with health problems. The idea is to stimulate the body and mind to help in healing. Their is a mind, body and spirit connection that is claimed by aromatherapists.
The following are three methods for aromatherapy treatments.
- Diffusing them in the air with a diffuser devise
- Applying them to the skin
- Inhalation of the oil
Recently, there have been more studies into the effects of aromatherapy on health. The research seems promising for diffuser, skin and inhalation. Vaporizers are not likely to be a good idea because of the other toxins that may be generated when vaporizing.
What Is The Best Way To Stop Smoking Naturally?
Aromatherapy is not the only method you should use to quit smoking. There are many great resources on how to quit. The best method includes a comprehensive plan like the 5 A’s of smoking cessation.
Essential oils and aromatherapy can be thought of as a supplement to the larger plan. Specifically, they can be a great way to help ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms. However, it is unlikely that essential oils will completely eliminate cravings. They may be very effective when combined with nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as patches or gum.
What Essential Oil Helps You Quit Smoking?
Several essential oils have been studied as aids to help quit smoking. Below is the list of oils that have the most evidence supporting their use. The studies looked at different factors of smoking from withdrawal symptoms to stress or anxiety. Overall the list is in order from strongest evidence to least.
1. Black Pepper
|What is it?||This essential oil is made from the same black pepper spice you season food with.|
|What does it do?||Black pepper has chemicals that are antioxidants, which help reduce inflammation. Additionally, it has been shown to increase circulation. Both of these effects are very beneficial especially for someone who has been a smoker. |
When used for smoking cessation, it creates a sensation similar to smoking.
|Does it work?||Studies have shown that black pepper stimulates the respiratory system in a way very similar to smoking a cigarette. This leads to fewer cravings for a cigarette.|
The study also showed less anxiety for those using the pepper essential oil vs placebo.
|Black pepper essential oil|
2. Angelica Root
|What is it?||Angelica root is a plant that is found in woodlands typically near water. The root, seed and fruit of the plant have been used for medicinal purposes.|
|What does it do?||It is thought that angelica root affects the nervous system and provides a calming effect. |
Angelica root has also been claimed to help lower emotional responses in some studies.
|Does it work?||A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that angelica root oil helped reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.|
|Angelica root essential oil|
|What is it?||Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils. It is created from the flowers of the lavender plant and carries a pleasant aroma.|
|What does it do?||Lavender has been widely used and studied. It is said to have the following effects:|
|Does it work?||A small study was done specifically in people who had quit smoking and were experiencing cravings. Lavender showed significant reduction in craving, anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate. |
There are also larger studies showing lavender has positive effects on anxiety and insomnia.
|What is it?||Rosemary is an evergreen shrub that has a woody aroma. The essential oil comes from the needle like leaves.|
|What does it do?||Rosemary has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. The ones that most closely tie to smoking cessation include:|
|Does it work?||There are no clinical trials that have studied rosemary specifically for smoking cessation. |
However, there are several small studies that show rosemary can help lower pulse and cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone. These effects would be beneficial as the body is in a state of stress during smoking withdrawal.
5. Sweet Orange Oil
|What is it?||As the name implies this oil is extracted from sweet oranges. They are cold pressed and the oil comes from the rind of the orange.|
|What does it do?||Sweet orange essential oil has several effects that have been found in clinical trials including:|
Additionally, it has been shown to improve mood and reduce anxiety.
|Does it work?||There are no direct studies of sweet orange oil for smoking cessation. However, studies have shown that is can cause relaxation, improve mood and decrease anxiety. |
It has been used for smoking cessation because of these calming and relaxing properties. Users state it helps to focus thoughts and lessen irritability.
|Sweet orange essential oil|
|What is it?||Ginger oil is produced from the rhizome of the ginger plant. Ginger has been widely used in eastern medicine for thousands of years. It is said to provide feelings of confidence when used as an essential oil.|
|What does it do?||Ginger as an essential oil is claimed to be anti-inflammatory. It may also help ease feelings of nausea.|
|Does it work?||There are no clinical trials showing ginger is effective for smoking cessation. Ginger has been shown to produce a calming effects and improve digestive problems. |
Studies have found ginger to be anti-inflammatory, and provide relief from digestive symptoms. If these are your symptoms of smoking withdrawal ginger may be worth a try.
7. Roman Chamomile
|What is it?||This essential oil comes from the German chamomile plant. The flowers have a scent of honey and apple.|
|What does it do?||Roman chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. As an essential oil it helps relieve pain and fight off anxiety.|
|Does it work?||There are no clinical trials of roman chamomile in humans trying to quit smoking. However, studies have been done in animals showing the relaxing effect roman chamomile has on smooth muscle. |
The smooth muscle of the arteries and lungs in smokers is often overly excited after quitting nicotine found in cigarettes. Therefore, this could be the reason why roman chamomile seems to relax people trying to quit smoking.
|What is it?||Peppermint oil comes from the leaves of the peppermint plant. This wholesome plant is said to contain over 40 active compounds. |
Many people enjoy the fresh, bold smell of peppermint.
|What does it do?||Peppermint contains menthol and is used for a variety of problems as a topical treatment. |
The essential oil is used for coughs, colds, pain and stress.
|Does it work?||There are no clinical trials looking at peppermint essential oil for smoking cessation. |
A number of studies have looked at peppermint for conditions like GI upset, irritable bowel syndrome, sinus and cough. These studies have shown that peppermint oil can be helpful in preventing GI symptoms.
If GI problems are your main symptoms from smoking cessation then peppermint might be helpful.
Pros and Cons of Essential Oils
- Easy to use
- Inexpensive, compared to smoking
- Low likelihood of side effects
- Can be added to other smoking cessation steps
- Typically provide odors that are pleasant
- May be hard to use away from home
- Have only a small amount of research proving they are effective
- Could take several oils to find one that helps
- Odors will be smelled by those in close proximity
Best Essential Oil For Each Primary Symptom
Everyone has different symptoms that arise from stopping smoking. The timing of when certain symptoms show up can also be different. If you’re not ready for the symptoms they can make you want to grab a cigarette ASAP.
Black pepper has shown to be the most effective essential oil overall. However, if you have a specific symptom that is bothering you then the oil listed may be helpful.
|Nicotine craving||Black pepper|
|Weight gain||Angelica root|
|Flu like feeling||Ginger|
|Mood changes||Black pepper|
|Constipation / gas||Roman chamomile|
How do You Use Essential Oils to Quit Smoking?
Essential oils can be used in different ways and some are more effective than others to help with stoping smoking. Stress and temptation to smoke can be a huge reason why people have trouble quitting. That is where essential oils can be helpful.
It is important to remember there are several ways essential oils can be used, which might match up with your symptoms.
The most effective essential oil studied thus far is black pepper. In that study they used an inhaler device to deliver the black pepper. Using inhalers to deliver essential oils has several advantages for for smoking cessation, such as:
- They are compact
- Replace physical sensation a cigarette provides
- Are discreet
- Can be multiple use or single use
To use an inhaler you simply unscrew the cap and apply 10 to 15 drops of essential oil. Then replace the vial cap and it is ready for use. When using the oil hold the inhaler 2 inches from your nose and inhale. The great thing is you can use this as often as needed.
Diffusers are devices that will distribute the essential oil in the air. Thus creating a pleasant smell that can help with cravings.
To use a diffuser, simply place it in the middle of the room, add water and about 10 drops essential oil. After that, the diffuser does the work for you.
Soon the air in your home will be fresh and smell like the scent of that essential oil. If you do not like the smell of the oil, simply change the water and add another oil for a new fragrance.
Relaxing can be a great way to deal with the anxiety of quitting smoking. Getting a massage can be a very effective way to relax.
The massage therapist can add essential oils that can help calm nerves and cut cravings. They simply add the essential oil to the lotion they use during the massage.
This can be another way to use essential oil. The drawback is that it is not available all the time even though cravings might be.
Another great way to relax is by taking a bath. Essential oils can be added to the bath water to make it even more soothing.
Typically ten to twenty drops of essential oil can be added to a carrier such as olive or coconut oil. The mixture can then be added to the bath water.
Many people find this can be a great “reward” for another day, week, or any time period without smoking.
What Kind of Essential Oil Should You Buy?
Like with most products, finding a good quality essential oil is key. There is no oversight of essential oil manufacturers like there is for food or medications. Therefore, you may see marketing claims that sound too good to be true. Many of them are just that.
Lower quality essential oils may not have the same benefits because the plants were not harvested correctly. They could also have chemicals that have been added that could be toxic. Here are a few things to check before buying essential oils:
|100% Essential Oil||Those products with other ingredients are likely to be man made toxic chemicals. Stay away from anything less than 100% essential oil.|
|Glass containers||These oil are concentrated. They could dissolve plastic over time.|
|Light protective bottles||Light can break the oil down. Make sure they are sold in amber or brown, light protective bottles.|
|No fragrance oils||These are essential oils combined with perfumes or colognes. They are likely to have toxic chemicals that have been added to the oil.|
|Lookup the company on the BBB||A quick review of the Better Business Buerau will tell you a lot about the company that makes the oil. An A rating will give you assurance that they have been providing quality products.|
|Compare prices||Lower prices often mean a product that is not as high of quality as others. Beware of a much less expensive options that are likely not as pure.|
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Share Your Story
Do you used essential oils to stop smoking? Also, please share what worked best for you. Chime in below with your comments and thoughts.
Cordell, Barbara et. al, The effects of aromatherapy on nicotine craving on a U.S. campus: a small comparison study. J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Aug;19(8): 709-713.
Rose, J et. al, Inhalation of vapor from black pepper extract reduces smoking withdrawal symptoms. Drug Alcohol Depend. 1994 Feb;3(34): 225-229.