As a physician, for over 35 years I have quietly and successfully helped many thousands of my patients to quit or cut down their use of nicotine, the poisonous and deadly addictive substance in cigarettes. I am astonished that we stand idly by and ignore the science of basic, brain chemistry and let almost 500,000 Americans and 5 million worldwide die of heart and lung disease and cancer, when all we have to do is provide smokers with some fundamental and practical knowledge and assist them in applying it in a simple, rational and scientific way.
Cigarette Cessation Treatment
For over 3 decades, thousands of my smoking patients have benefited from my cigarette cessation treatments. First I provide them with some basic facts about the dangers of tobacco and how it greatly increases their risks of cancer and heart and pulmonary diseases. More importantly, I provide them with fundamental and practical knowledge about their brain chemistry so that, unlike the nearly half million smokers in the United States and almost 5 million worldwide who are killed by tobacco every year, they will understand a simple, rational and scientific way to quit.
Realizing early in my medical career that the prescribing of nicotine and dangerous medications for my patients did not work, I developed a science-based, rational, effective and natural treatment that I have prescribed for decades to thousands of patients. I spend a lot of time educating every smoking patient about the science of basic brain chemistry so that they can choose to not become the next to die of cancer, heart and lung disease.
How is it that so many people are compelled to use nicotine on a regular basis and risk such adverse consequences? Moreover, how is it that smokers who are addicted to nicotine are given prescriptions to the very substance they are hooked on, or are prescribed drugs which can be just as addictive and dangerous? The answer to both of these questions lies in an understanding of the way our brains work. And by the way, so does the answer to the question, “How can I quit smoking or cut down without resorting to using nicotine patches and gum (and other stop-smoking drugs) without incurring further risk?”
My smoking patients are well aware of the dangers of cigarette smoking, so why are they driven to smoke? Why are smokers prescribed nicotine patches and gum, the same addictive substance in tobacco, as well as other potentially addictive and dangerous drugs? These baffling questions can only be answered after learning a little basic knowledge about how your brain works. This knowledge can also lead you to a method of smoking cessation or cutting down that does not rely on nicotine being delivered by some other route or by using risky and addictive medication.
Our brain cells, or neurons, communicate with each other by means of small molecules called neurotransmitters, which are manufactured directly from nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids. When neurons exchange these molecules with each other, they enable us to stay focused and alert, to be able to deal with stressful situations, and to block out pain, among many other things.
When the brain is supplied with sufficient amounts of proper fuel and nutrition, neurons can produce and exchange neurotransmitters in optimal quantities, and we tend to stay on top of things, to remain relaxed and happy, and to get joy and pleasure out of everyday experiences. However, when our brain cells are deprived of proper nutrition and can’t produce enough neurotransmitters to deal with life’s stressors, we become irritable, unable to focus, angry, even depressed and we can crave drugs and junk food.
Staying focused and alert, dealing effectively with pain, being happy and handling stress in our lives does not happen magically. This is all dependent on having sufficient amounts of certain cell to cell communication molecules in the brain called neurotransmitters. These “feel good” molecules must be continuously synthesized in the brain from nutrients such as amino acids, vitamins and minerals. If our brain is short changed of these basic requirements, we can not function or feel our best. Memory and clarity of thinking can be adversely affected. We can become inattentive, moody, have problems dealing with stress and crave drugs, alcohol and junk food.
The 100 or so billion cells in our brain called neurons must have a way of “talking” to each other. They perform this communication by releasing and receiving small molecules called neurotransmitters, and some of these have the function of keeping us alert, joyful, pain- and stress-free.
Neurotransmitters are synthesized from basic dietary nutrients such as amino acids, fatty acids, minerals and vitamins, and a steady supply of these must be delivered to the brain to keep us on our “A” game. You can easily imagine the consequences of nutritional deficiencies, leading to a brain which is incapable of synthesizing these “groovy” neurotransmitters. Memory and mental clarity, mood stability and vocational and social functioning can all suffer. Cravings for drugs and alcohol, irritability and sleep problems can ensue.
If neurotransmitter shortages are severe enough and continue indefinitely, most people are compelled to seek ways to offset the discomfort and difficulties. One of those ways is to take up smoking. Nicotine, the addictive substance in tobacco, artificially overcomes some of these neurotransmitter deficiencies, and temporarily improves functioning and mood which had been less than par. We can feel and function “normally” again and of course many are seduced by such “improvements.”
Pain is a motivator, and most people will look for ways to avoid the discomfort and dysfunction caused by severe and persistent neurotransmitter deficiencies. Nicotine is a readily available chemical to offset these neurotransmitter shortfalls. Nicotine can temporarily improve mental clarity, mood instability and dysfunction by substituting itself for the neurotransmitters that would normally be available. The improvements provided by nicotine lure users into a false sense of well being.
The problem is that once the nicotine is used up, our brains are once again unable to produce the neurotransmitters required to feel and function at our best, and we need another cigarette. What is worse, regular use of nicotine discourages the brain cells from even making the amount of neurotransmitters which they had previously synthesized, so more nicotine must be used to make up this worsening deficit, just to stay focused and alert, feel happy and modify stress. Presto! An addiction is born.
One problem in trying to quit or cut down to safer levels is that the health care system is clueless about basic brain chemistry and what goes haywire in an addiction. Although we physicians get a basic education about brain chemistry, most of us don’t have a practical understanding about applying such knowledge. We are discouraged from using the real science of biochemistry and nutrition in favor of drug therapies, which merely switch a dependency on nicotine to another delivery method or to other equally dangerous and addictive chemicals.
The addiction industry is profitable, regardless as to whether it markets substances which are classified as recreational, such as nicotine and alcohol, or illicit or pharmaceutical chemicals. Ingrained, systemic and unsavory profit motives for perpetuating addiction are imbued within the health care system, which I do not have the time or space to fully address here. Suffice it to say that you or a nicotine-addicted loved one who wants to quit or cut down the use of nicotine must recognize that there is little, rational help available for you in the health care system at large. You must become an assertive, educated and suspicious health care consumer to be successful.
You must understand that your brain functions according to certain immutable laws of biochemistry. These can not be violated without incurring penalties. When nicotine is used on a regular basis to substitute for the brain’s “natural nicotine,” acetylcholine, the brain proceeds to make less acetylcholine to compensate for the regular appearance of the toxin nicotine. Please understand that the brain is only following a pre-set, series of biochemical instructions which are inviolable.
On the other hand, when the brain receives plenty of choline and vitamin B5 or pantethine so it can synthesize acetylcholine, it is encouraged to drive nicotine out and replace it with its natural neurotransmitter, which it prefers. The same goes for replenishing other nicotine-deplete neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin from other precursor nutrients such as tryptophan and tyrosine and other B vitamins and the minerals.
I have demonstrated remarkable outcomes when this is done, even though it is rather silly to prove what is obviously true, like proving that gravity exists. If these laws of brain function are violated, you are far less likely to quit smoking or cut down, regardless of what you try. Your brain chemistry does not give a hoot about the latest drug or quit-smoking fad. However, if these inviolable laws of biochemistry are followed, as thousands of my patients have done over the decades, you will be rewarded.
This can help you quit: Nicotine Cessation