You’d probably have to have been living in another solar system over the last 10 years not to be aware of the risks associated with tobacco smoking; there’s no longer any doubt about the risks associated with this activity. There’s a huge range of solutions for the person seeking assistance to disconnect themselves from the desire to smoke. Some of these proffered solutions work; some don’t and some, such as nicotine replacement, for most seem to offer only limited relief and have a few notable limitations, including break-through cravings, pregnancy and various other contraindications.
The nature of tobacco craving, the physical and psychological factors that motivate it, modify it or enhance it mean that its characteristics are usually quite individualised, and therefore the more the therapy is tailored to those individual characteristics, the more successful the therapy that assists with smoking cessation is likely to be. Homeopathy is perfectly positioned to meet these requirements, and what follows are some of the more notable homeopathic medicines that have found favour with prominent authorities in this area1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
Aconite is a wonderful remedy for acute stress and has also been used for anxious dreams and nightmares, vertigo, headaches (with an associated boiling sensation), red, inflamed eyes, dry mouth and throat, intense thirst, vomiting, a short, dry, croupy cough, tickling in the throat and chest pain brought on with coughing. Symptoms are worse at night and after midnight, dry cold winds and warm rooms and better for open air.
The Arsenicum type displays a classic picture of the recently ex- smoker : restless, anxious, constantly shifting, fearful, easily exhausted, emaciated and any area of pain often has a burning character. Also seen here may be an unquenchable thirst, burning eyes, respiratory catarrh and lung pain. Symptoms are worse for wet weather or cold, and better for heat and warm drinks.
One of the great tobacco craving remedies, Caladium promotes a dislike for tobacco, often to the point of nausea or vomiting if used when smoking. A keynote symptom for this remedy is a dread of motion. Headaches, memory loss, dyspnoea and catarrhal asthma may also be noted here. Symptoms are worse for motion and better after sleep.
Icy coldness is characteristic here and it’s often accompanied by a throbbing, occipital headache, insomnia, a weak bradycardia and a violent, dry, hacking cough. Symptoms are worse at night and from motion, and better from warmth.
Like Caladium, Daphne is one of the most frequently used remedies for tobacco craving. The symptoms that correspond to it include insomnia, a bursting headache, shooting pains in the extremities, twitching, a burning pain in the stomach and foetid breath.
The primary characteristic linking Eugenia with smoking is nausea that’s improved by smoking. One may from time to time encounter a patient whose attempts at smoking cessation are constantly thwarted by nausea that’s relieved by smoking, and in this instance, Eugenia can be very effective.
Ignatia is a remedy frequently used for anxiety linked with tobacco craving and it’s often associated with excitability and a marked sensory hypersensitivity. Other symptoms may include mood swings, depression, headaches, a sour taste in the mouth, sour eructations, a dry spasmodic cough, cramping pains in the abdomen, neck or back, as well as insomnia. Symptoms are worse in the morning, from coffee or smoking and better while sitting or from changing position.
Kali phos should be considered where the primary issue is anxiety associated with tobacco withdrawal. The signs and symptoms that may help to confirm its applicability include prostration, mental weakness, irritability, dry mouth, tinnitus and dyspnoea. Symptoms are worse from any exertion and in the early morning, and better from warmth and rest.
One of the interesting symptoms that may indicate the need for Lobelia is that despite a craving for tobacco, the sufferer can’t stand the smell of it. Lobelia’s main sphere of action in this area is upon the lungs, and in this there’s marked dyspnoea association with constriction. Emphysema or asthma with a characteristic ringing cough may complicate this presentation. Respiratory symptoms are worse from exertion, tobacco smoke and cold and are better for rapid walking.
The predominant mental symptom here as it relates to tobacco craving is irritability. Some also claim that Nux vomica assists in the detoxification of the toxic material absorbed from tobacco smoke. Guiding symptoms include headache, vertigo, insomnia, nausea, food craving, constipation and dyspnoea. Symptoms are worse in the morning and from mental exertion, and better from a nap (if they’re able to complete it) and from rest.
Plantago is indicated for “nicotinism”, the historical term applied to tobacco craving, and in its mother tincture form, has been found to produce an aversion to tobacco. The presence of depression, insomnia, constipation of diarrhoea, as well as nocturnal enuresis, may indicate a need for its use.
The guiding symptoms for Staphysagria include irritability, hypersensitivity, insomnia, stupefying headaches, a desire for stimulants (this obviously includes tobacco) and itchy skin. Symptoms are worse from emotional disturbance and the touch of other on affected parts, and better from warmth and rest after sundown.
Like Nux vomica, some say that Tabacum assists in the elimination of the toxins carried by tobacco smoke. This is yet to be proved but it certainly does appear to have a significant effect on tobacco craving, where it’s indicated. The symptoms that may be used to confirm this include cold extremities, sick headaches in the early morning, indigestion, palpitations or vertigo, prostration, hypertension, dizziness, nausea, confusion and lack of concentration. Symptoms are worse at night and better during the day and slow motion. Use may also be made of a variation of this remedy, Tabacum fumar, the remedy manufactured from tobacco smoke, in low potency as an emergency measure for acute cravings.
This remedy, made from the little Orange spider, can be extremely useful where the symptom constellation consists of nervousness, hyperaesthesia from all sources but particularly audio, vertigo and a headache that’s accompanied by nausea or vomiting. The symptoms here are worse for touch, pressure or jarring.
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1. Das RBB, Select Your Remedy, 14th Edition, May 1992, B Jain, New Delhi, India.
2. Clarke JH, A Clinical Repertory to the Dictionary of the Materia Medica, Health Sciences Press, England, 1979. ISBN 0 85032 061 5.
3. Dewey WA, Practical Homoeopathic Therapeutics, 2nd Edition, B Jain, New Delhi, 1991.
4. Bouko Levy M, Homeopathic and Drainage Repertory, Editions Similia, France, 1992. ISBN-2-904928-70-7.
5. Raue CG, Special Pathology and Diagnostics with Therapeutic Hints, 4th Edition, 1896, B Jain, New Delhi.
6. Knerr KB, Repertory of Hering’s Guiding Symptoms of our Materia Medica. 1997, B Jain, New Delhi. ISBN 81-7021-241-3.
7. Lilienthal S, Homoeopathic Therapeutics, 3rd edition, 1890, Indian Books and Periodicals. ISBN 81-7021-000-3.