Why is group therapy as important as anti-tobacco drug therapy ?

Group therapy is a frequent intervention used in smoking cessation programs.

Group intervention is not necessarily the most effective method of quitting when it is the only method used; however, it is effective in combination with other smoking cessation tools, including medications. Group programs teach people to recognize problems that occur while quitting. Group members offer emotional support and encourage each other to reach for success, which many people find helpful. Studies have demonstrated differences in abstinence success rates depending upon the type of therapy utilized as well as whether or not it is used in combination with medication therapy. Table 13 illustrates those differences. (It is important to note that the medication and counseling statistic is from a different set of studies, and therefore one cannot compare that number against any of the other numbers as denoted by the asterisk [*].)

Are there herbal remedies for smoking cessation?

Table 13 successful Abstinence Rates by Type of Therapy

successful Abstinence Rates by Type of Therapy

* Data cannot be compared as they are from a different set of research.

Thousands of people are looking for alternative approaches to smoking cessation. As a result, non-traditional quit smoking methods look attractive to many who do not want to take medications or to participate in traditional programs used to stop smoking. These alternatives are known as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) conducted a metaanalysis that determined alternative therapies such as hypnosis, acupuncture, electrostimulation, and laser treatments were not effective in tobacco cessation. If you decide on herbal medicines, discuss your plan with your doctor, pharmacist, or a holistic health practitioner.

Herbal Remedies

All of the following herbs that will be discussed have been used as aids for smoking cessation. Herbs have been used traditionally in Eastern medicine for years but have been introduced to Americans only recently. There are herbal teas as well as pills that are available over-the-counter (OTC) at health food stores.


Ginseng is a root that has been made into a medication, which has been used historically in Chinese medicine for 7000 years. It is grown in the Far East as well as the United States. Ginseng can be eaten raw or prepared using various methods. The best way to prepare it is to brew it into a tea. Ginseng is purported to reduce stress, improve cognitive performance, boost energy, enhance memory, and stimulate the immune system. Many of these effects are similar to the effects of nicotine. Studies conducted in China reported that ginseng increased the activity of the brain's neurotransmitters.


Kava is a sacred drink to many Pacific Islanders. Kava is purported to relieve anxiety that is associated with the withdrawal symptoms of a variety of addictive drugs including nicotine and alcohol. Kava is non-addictive and is also an appetite suppressant. One of the chemicals found in kava inhibits the enzyme monoamine oxidase-B (MAO-B), which is also inhibited by the antidepressants Nardil and Parnate. Inhibiting MAO increases the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which may explain why kava is thought to have smoking cessation properties. However, neither Nardil nor Parnate are believed to be safe or effective in treating tobacco dependence, and they are far more potent MAO inhibitors than kava. Kava is contraindicated in all patients taking antidepressant medications.

The therapeutic uses of kava are as follows:

Relieves anxiety and stress and the ensuing depression

Is a muscle relaxant

Is a diuretic and anti-inflammatory medication

Is an anticonvulsant

Protects against strokes

Is a mild analgesic

Is a mild anesthetic

Is a topical antifungal medication


Lobelia also has been called the Indian Tobacco or the puke- weed. It is a purgative used in small doses as an expectorant to treat respiratory problems; in large doses it is used as an emetic (it makes you vomit) to treat food poisoning. It grows all over North America. It has nicotine-like properties in that it is both a stimulant and a relaxant. In small doses, lobelia can have a soothing, sedative effect. It can calm the jittery nerves of someone who is withdrawing from nicotine. Thus, if lobelia is taken during smoking withdrawal, the cravings will be reduced. If one smokes a cigarette while taking lobelia, however, the smoker may become nauseated and may vomit. It also may have mild antidepressant effects, which helps with the initial sadness during nicotine withdrawal.

Precautions: It is contraindicated to take lobelia during pregnancy, if you have low blood pressure, if you get easily nauseated, if you are taking blood pressure medications, if you are a diabetic, or if you are already on potassium replacement therapy, diuretics, or corticosteroids. If you are taking aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), the combination can increase the risk of a toxic reaction.

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