This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best user experience possible. Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognizing you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting. We do not share any your subscription information with third parties. It is used solely to send you notifications about site content occasionally.

quitting smoking

  • Someone makes you an offer they think you can’t refuse—they offer you a cigarette—but they get a Tony Soprano reply— “Fuhgeddaboutit!”—This is just how it has to be if you want to be a born-again nonsmoker!

    Smoking addiction is a way of life that cloaks many complexities—it is orchestrated by the interaction of genetic, neurobiological, environmental and developmental factors. It is the principal preventable cause of death in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking in the U.S. accounts for close to half a million deaths each year.

    One barrier to quitting is the fact that most smokers perceive themselves as being addicted for life, and it is this cerebral electric fence that can be the difference between staying addicted and breaking free.

    During my quest for a protocol, I considered incarcerated smokers who have spent years in jails in certain countries around the world, where cigarettes are not available. When they were admitted they suffered the pangs and despair, but lived without cigarettes because they had no choice. So the advice I would give to all the would-be quitters who just believe it is completely impossible, is to think of those prisoners—whatever their genetic profile, biological, physiological and psychological condition, whatever their cultural background and life experiences were, and how ever many nicotinic cell receptors, misrouted and unbalanced chemical pathways and disrupted hormones they had—they had to, and did quit. And as for the non-prisoners, data from a U.S. National Health Interview Survey (1965–2005) and the American Lung Association (1997–2005), shows estimations that 45.9 million adults are former smokers (25.5 million men and 20.4 million women). Of course it was much harder for them because they had 24/7 cigarette access, so they should be kept in mind too!

    Survival of the human race has always meant striving after “must have” natural rewards such as food, drink and sex. But the brain also craves unnatural rewards such as chemicals from smoking. This is because the body’s biological functions do not always differentiate between natural and unnatural substances. When there is an addiction to a stimulant such as nicotine or caffeine, the high level of stimulation generates regulatory changes in the brain cell receptor (docking) sites of brain cells for the chemical messengers: dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Effectively, they begin to close down—and as a result, the addictee yearns for more of the nicotine or caffeine etc., just to feel normal and be able to get through the day.

    There is one common chemical messenger in the body known as acetylcholine (pronounced: a-cee-til-coline). This connects with specific receptors in the cell called cholinergic receptors. These are widely spread throughout the body, and are of great importance as acetylcholine and its receptors are connected to numerous vital functions including: respiration (breathing patterns), maintenance of heart rate, and muscle movement. In addition, they generate the release of other chemical messengers which influence functions such as: appetite, mood and memory. Now, as the chemical make-up of the active form of nicotine is very close to the natural chemical messenger acetylcholine, the receptors are stimulated when they pick up nicotine molecules (just as in the same way a wrong key can sometimes open a lock). So, because of all the vital functions acetylcholine is connected to, you can imagine the dramatic effect.

    When the body receives nicotine in small doses, the disruption to brain chemistry effects normal functioning by: increasing heart rate and blood pressure, increasing the concentration of various hormones, and increasing in the excitability of nerve cells—one outcome is that a smoker's body and brain are given some za-za-zoom—a power surge to begin or get through whatever they are doing. Conversely, when the body receives nicotine in high doses, regulatory mechanisms suppress acetylcholine. In addition, nicotine changes the normal cycle of endorphins (chemical messengers which bring on a state of exhilaration and tranquillity), making the body reliant on nicotine to control their release, and the feelings they bring. So basically, nicotine has the power to generate very diverse moods—and a fire station emergency yearning to reach out for a pack!

    The first cigarette of the day which often and very detrimentally replaces breakfast, receives an enthusiastic response from the nerve cells within the brain, which react to the first nicotine rush of the day. (Readers who can successfully cut out this first cigarette of the day, and replace this cigarette breakfast will be quicker and far more likely to succeed in cessation). During the first few cigarettes of the day, nicotine stimulation increases the activity of dopamine—the feel good chemical messenger which affects the pathways in the brain that control reward and pleasure. The brain rewards and reinforces what it translates as beneficial behavior (in this case smoking). This leaves the smoker with a euphoric sensation of feeling up. However, what goes up must come down, and the high is followed by an inevitable rebounding low.

    As the day moves on, the flow of nicotine does not have the same effect. This is because the nerve cells begin to become de-sensitised. Now the cigarettes generate less of a high, and smokers need to heavily reboot as they are compelled to puff away even more. The smoker's subconscious mind is completely blinded to the health calamities and the reality of a precarious future. It thinks in the here and now and it regards smoking as necessary as it translates the anxiety and withdrawal symptoms, which have built-up since the last cigarette into a danger which is threatening to the body. As humans have an instinctive biological survival of the species mechanism that is preprogrammed to reduce anxiety, the subconscious is automatically prompted to take action to lower the threat (i.e. lower the anxiety). So smokers impulsively react by doing something which relaxes and calms them—they light up!

    The protocol that I have introduced in my new book, "The Winning Way to Quit Smoking" is derived from a natural and holistic foundation. The Fuhgeddaboutit Method is named after the expression of Tony Soprano, the mafia boss of the HBO world-wide smash hit TV show, "The Sopranos." It incorporates health science, and embraces complementary therapy with an accent on biological regulation and the intrinsic healing of the mind, body and soul. Various elements integrate body regeneration, favourable genetic expression, anti-aging, hormone and chemical messenger regulation, and enhanced immune system functioning. Cutting down is slow and systematic over a period of around six months, until the Permanent Quit Zone is reached. There are numerous suggested back ups including: herbal patches, acupuncture, ear magnets, herbal cigarettes, flower remedies, and nutritional supplements; as well as the regular use of a hypnosis CD, and self-administered holistic therapy.

    The first aspect that is addressed is detoxing—the gateway to good health, revitalisation and regeneration; and a means to help reduce cravings. Various methods are examined, with the aim of assisting the body to dispel heavy metals and other chemicals. Incredibly, there are over 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke. Of these, around seventy percent are carcinogenic, and hundreds are toxic. Health Cuisine is the next on the list. This is one of the most beneficial aspects of the protocol, as natural unprocessed food holds powers which assist self-healing and regeneration of the body's cells, tissues and organs. Simple changes to empower the body using optimum nutrition are put forward, and information on some of the pitfalls that keep smokers on the same path through their choice of food and drink, are addressed. It is an indisputable fact that food effects the way everyone feels and behaves, and a nutritional program which maintains a good blood sugar balance, not only boosts energy, it can also help to reduce cravings. The body's blood sugar levels are affected by a drug-type interaction produced by the stimulating effects of nicotine which causes the body to dispel its stores of sugar and fat. This explains the appetite suppressant powers of nicotine which affect the satiety (appetite control) center in the brain. Next up is the Stress Factor, which is brought on by the crescendos and decrescendos of smoking. A wide range of physical activities, new interests and hobbies, the use of aromatherapy oils, relaxation techniques, and home-based holistic treatments (including reflexology and Indian head massage) are suggested. Ways to improve mind management, strength and willpower are then called upon by looking at strategies to stay positive by: changing normal routines, saying no to frenemie crocodile smoking companions, and preparing a C diary. Smokers are then equipped mentally and physically to enter the Four Zones: The Prep Zone (4 weeks), The Cutting Down Zone (8 weeks), The Quit Zero Zone (16 weeks), and The Permanent Quit Zone. The final part of the protocol looks at weight gain and offers an insight into the effects of smoking and cessation on weight control, in order to put a successful plan into action. Exercise, supplements, and diet are considered, with an accent on having more plant based foods in order to heal the body and avoid gruesome calorie control!

    The next time someone makes you an offer of a cigarette— you can say Fuhgeddaboutit!

  • Dear Readers,

    Welcome to the March 2019 issue of TotalHealth Magazine.

    Charles K. Bens, PhD, in “The Biochemistry Of Smoking: Helping the Brain To Live Without Nicotine” gives us an explanation on the effects of nicotine on the brain, showing why it is so difficult to quit smoking. Bens goes on with his experience with several individuals who were able to change their lifestyle through diet and exercise, and lead healthy lives. This is not to say one shouldn’t quit smoking but changing one’s lifestyle is a big influence on one’s health.

    In “Lutein & Zeaxanthin: Protectors for Your Children,” Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG), enlightens readers on blue light, especially from digital devices. It has the potential to damage retinal tissue and cause a variety of eye-related problems, including eye strain, eye fatigue, headache, visual impairment, psychological stress and poor sleep quality. This is particularly true in children since their eyes absorb more blue light than adults.

    How Smart Fats Reset Your Hunger Hormones,” Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, focus is on Adiponectin; a real hormone game changer that you may not be very familiar with. It is a big player in firing up belly fat burn and is known as the body’s “fat burning torch.” This special super hormone that flips your body’s fat burning switch is already circulating in your bloodstream because it is made in your fat cells. Adiponectin is balanced by monounsaturated omega-rich foods and oils as: olives and olive oil, avocados and avocado oil, and macadamias and macadamia nut oil.

    Jacob E. Teitelbaum, MD, offers “X-Rays Meaningless for Arthritis and Back Pain?” We’ve known for decades that spinal X-Rays, MRIs and CT scans add very little information about back pain. They most often DON’T tell doctors whether the pain is coming from the spine or from disc, arthritic or bone disease. (Though they MAY reveal if the problem can be fixed with a chiropractic adjustment.)

    Gloria Gilbère, CDP, DAHom, PhD, contributes “One Dish Baked Caprese Chicken.” Another of Gilbère’s fabulous recipes from her test kitchen in Ecuador. In addition to this recipe Gilbère offers two recipes to use for leftovers. Included is background on the health benefits of organic chicken.

    Shawn Messonnier’s, DVM, topic this month is “Pinellia Combination in Pets.” Pinellia combination is a Chinese herbal mix. This formula contains ginseng, ginger, jujube, Coptis and Scute, along with pinellia, and is for vomiting in pets. Because of the Chinese diagnosis and classification of diseases, the ingredients in each formula may vary. Individual Chinese pharmacists include herbs in their tented formulas based upon their experience. However, they can compound formulas to the needs of an individual pet.

    Best in health,

    TWIP—The Wellness Imperative People

    Click here to read the full March 2019 issue.

    Click here to read the full March 2019 issue.

  • According to scientists at the University of Minnesota the percentage of the population that smokes has not changed for more than a decade. Dr. Harry Lando expressed real concern about this fact recently when he said, "I have become discouraged that we can't improve our success rates beyond a certain point. It's critical to look for alternatives for people who are simply not quitting."

    The Healthy Smoker

    Dr. Lando is definitely right, not enough people are quitting smoking, but it's not because people aren't trying to quit. Over 90 percent of smokers say they want to quit and yet of those who try 70 percent are smoking again within three months and 90 percent are smoking again within 18 months. Perhaps Mark Twain said it best when he is reported to have said, "I have no problem quitting. I've done it hundreds of times." This echoes the experience of most smokers who will tell you they have tried everything and nothing works. Only 10 percent of smokers who try to quit each year are successful.

    Numerous scientists have tackled this nicotine addiction problem over the past two decades with very limited success. The nicotine patch was supposed to be the "big answer" but a study from the University of Oxford, Institute of Health Sciences found that only eight percent of smokers in their trial were still abstinent after eight years. Researchers at Dundee University in Scotland may have found out why the patch and other nicotine replacement programs don't work very well. Researchers in Dundee's Division of Pathology and Neuroscience's say smokers get short-term relief from their anxiety because nicotine temporarily increases levels of dopamine, one of the "feel good" hormones. However, the nicotine patch only causes a small amount of dopamine to be released, not enough to eliminate the desire for more nicotine.

    The most recent cessation strategy from the pharmaceutical perspective is injections of drugs that block the delivery of nicotine to the brain's nicotine receptor sites. The Anticholinergic Block Method uses atropine and scopolamine to intercept nicotine's delivery to neuroreceptors, thus denying the brain the addictive fix it is seeking. This approach is only slightly different from other drugs in pill or shot form which, when exposed to nicotine causes the smoker to experience nausea, thus encouraging him or her to avoid this unpleasant experience in the future.

    Both nausea and the interceptor drug approach do not address the cravings, which will continue to occur as long as the brain is denied the hormones that it needs to function. After several days or weeks on these drugs, most smokers who are trying to quit will simply override the internal message and get the nicotine fix they need. The brain is wired for survival and it will find ways to by-pass the messages delivered by these prescription drugs. As the brain makes these adjustments it would take higher and higher doses of any medication in order to reactivate the feelings of nausea or the interruptions to the neuroregulators in the brain. This is why the number of cigarettes needed increases over time and why the dosage of almost any medication must be increased over time in order to achieve their intended health stabilizing effects. The body eventually adapts and begins to neutralize those substances that it feels are not natural and beneficial to it. In fact, most medications are difficult for the liver to process, which causes an inordinate amount of the body's antioxidants and energy to be used in the detoxification of these pharmaceuticals.

    The various stop smoking formulas just reviewed ignore the basic truth that the brain is a complex biochemical factory that requires certain hormones and nutrients in order to function at an optimal level. Hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and tryptophan are vital to the maintenance of stable moods and clarity of focus. These hormones are naturally produced in the body from the nutrients we consume and it is an imbalance or inadequacy in certain nutrients that often causes a shortage in these feel-good hormones.

    Two pioneers in the field of biochemistry and nutritional factors affecting that bio-chemistry were Roger J. Williams, Ph.D., author of Biochemical Individuality: The Basics of the Genetolrophic Concept and Carl C. Pfeiffer, Ph.D., M.D., author of Nutrition and Mental Illness: An Orthomolecular Approach to Balancing Body Chemistry. Dr. Williams was one of the first scientists to identify genetic differences in individuals such as the potential for large variations of islets in a person's pancreas. (Can range from 200,000 to 1,200,000 islets.) Dr. Pfeiffer took this concept to the next level in terms of mental illness by identifying that some people needed larger amounts of certain nutrients than others. Dr. Pfeiffer was able to cure many patients with mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia by addressing their deficiencies of zinc, magnesium, manganese, vitamin B6 and other nutrients.

    These pioneers paved the way for modern-day doctors who have built on this orthomolecular science. Michael Lesser, M.D. has developed special diets for every type of mood disorder and shares them in his book The Brain Chemistry Diet. Joan Mathews Larson, Ph.D., has been helping people resolve their mental illness and addiction challenges at her clinic in Minneapolis for over 15 years. She shares her experiences and protocols in best-selling books such as Depression Free Naturally and Seven Weeks to Sobriety.

    We can learn a lot from these brilliant doctors and scientists when it comes to addressing the addictive challenge facing smokers who would like to quit. Studies have found smokers to be deficient in many nutrients including vitamin C, which is destroyed at the rate of 25-50 mg for every cigarette smoked. Smokers are also deficient in zinc, B vitamins, magnesium, amino acids, and omega 3 fatty acids. These nutrients are crucial to cellular health in the brain and throughout the body. One of the most critical unmet needs are the nutrients that produce serotonin. Some scientists (at Scotland's Dundee University) believe that boosting serotonin levels would be far more effective in the reduction of addictive cravings than medication or nicotine substitutes. The problem is these scientists want to stimulate this serotonin production with yet another drug instead of using a natural approach.

    Serotonin is produced when foods rich in the amino acid tryptophan (turkey and almonds) are eaten and then converted to a smaller substance called 5htp so it can pass the blood-brain barrier. Once in the brain 5htp is then converted to serotonin by the hypothalamus and then becomes available to the brain's neurotransmitters. This process has been explained in a simplified way here and should not be misconstrued to imply that eating lots of turkey and almonds will eliminate the craving for nicotine. To accomplish a steady and adequate supply of serotonin it is not only necessary to eat tryptophan-rich foods, it is also necessary to eat quality complex carbohydrates like oatmeal and brown rice because the tryptophan needs a steady release of insulin from the pancreas in order to get the glucose needed for the conversion to 5htp. The bottom line for any smoker who wants to quit permanently, and become healthier in the process; there is a clear and scientifically proven way to accomplish this goal with the help of good nutrition and other natural therapies.

    The Healthy Smoker Charles K Bens

    The program to accomplish this type of healthy smoking cessation is described in my new book The Healthy Smoker: How To Quit Smoking By Becoming Healthier First. This title may shock some readers, but it is based on my personal knowledge of several people who managed to stay very healthy in spite of their smoking habit. They accomplished this amazing feat by eating a very healthy diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates, quality protein, and essential fatty acids as well as exercising daily, practicing stress reduction and taking supplements. Some of them danced and others walked or took yoga classes. When they were tested to determine their levels of oxygen and antioxidants, as well as their blood chemistry profile, they consistently scored better than almost all non-smokers tested. They were surprisingly healthy smokers.

    This is not to suggest that anyone should justify smoking because they can become healthier following a certain diet or exercising more. There are still very unacceptable risks for anyone who smokes. What it does suggest is that previous smoking cessation programs have likely failed because they did not address the need to detoxify the body, improve nutritional intake, and increase the smoker's level of physical activity.

    There are many other reasons to engage in this more complete health improvement program beyond the benefits of reversing the addictive hold of nicotine. People who are finally able to quit become healthier day-by-day with the absence of smoking, but it can take 10 years or more to return the body to a state of health equivalent to that of a non-smoker. In fact, many smokers who quit still suffer heart attacks or get cancer due to the damage done to their bodies while they were smoking. A much healthier diet, the right supplements, exercise, and periodic detoxification can decrease this recovery time, and it can reduce the probability that some disease will occur in the future. If you are going to quit, why not get all of the benefits instead of just some of them?

    For more information on The Healthy Smoker program go to or