6 Things To Know About Complementary Health Approaches for Quitting Smoking

Nearly 70 percent of adult smokers want to quit smoking, according to a national survey. Conventional quit-smoking treatments, including counseling and medication, can increase 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 6 things you should know about what the science says about several complementary health approaches for quitting smoking:

  1. Current evidence suggests that some mind and body practices may help people quit smoking. Studies have found that mindfulness meditation-based therapies, yoga, and relaxation techniques such as guided imagery and progressive relaxation may help people quit smoking or reduce their cravings for cigarettes.

  2. Firm conclusions cannot be drawn about the effectiveness of hypnotherapy and acupuncture to help people quit smoking. A 2019 systematic review of the scientific literature on hypnotherapy concluded there is not enough evidence to determine whether hypnotherapy is more effective for smoking cessation than other forms of support or unassisted quitting. A 2014 systematic review concluded that acupuncture might help people stop smoking for short periods of time, but there’s no consistent evidence that it helps people quit permanently.

  3. There is no current evidence that the dietary supplements S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe), lobeline (from the herb Lobelia inflata), and St. John’s wort help people quit smoking. A few studies have been conducted on these dietary supplements, but none has been shown to be effective.

  4. A natural product called cytisine may become an option for smoking cessation treatment in the future. Several studies have indicated that cytisine, which is used as a smoking cessation aid in some central and eastern European countries, may help people quit smoking. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized further studies on cytisine, but the product has not yet been approved in the United States.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.