First Do No Harm

Hello David,

I've been one of your readers for a few years, and I have a lot of respect and gratitude for what you are doing - thank you.  I recently had a successful experience of stopping smoking and I felt moved for some reason to share it with you.  Perhaps it can help others, so for what it may be worth here's my story:

I started smoking when I was in high school, decades ago.  My parents both smoked, especially my mother who continued until she died at 78 of atherosclerosis.  I first tried it at 12 by sneaking into my mother's supply, and my mother promptly bought me my own pack.  ??  Go figure.  Later, unhappy in high school, smoking seemed like an interesting diversion.  I smoked on and off, mostly on, for most of my life.  I stopped more than once, the longest period being seven years which ended at 35 when I entered a period of overwhelming stress.  I rarely smoked a great deal and in the last few years, also marked by a lot of stress, I settled out at smoking about 3 - 6/day.  The last seven years I bought only "natural" or organic brands.  I pretty much couldn't imagine not smoking, even though a lot of my other lifestyle habits are quite holistic.  It's interesting that I had this habit at all considering my long-standing commitment to holistic health and the fact that I have a sensitive constitution.

Last year I finally started to develop a smoker's cough, and after about a year of that my throat started to be sore.  Those organic cigarettes are still hot, concentrated and very irritating.  The danger sign finally started blinking in my head.  I also just hated feeling enslaved to something which could hurt me.  So, what to do?

I remembered the first time I had stopped was a breeze.  I was probably 28, and I barely smoked at the time but felt that I had kind of a brain setting requiring one or two cigarettes per day.  I had a guru at the time who was very opposed to smoking, and offered to his students that if they wanted to quit they should bring him a pack of their brand and offer it to him directly.  So, after my walk up an aisle to see my guru in person, and handing him my pack, I did indeed lose all interest and basically forgot about smoking.

Flash forward to the recent period, in remembering this past experience I decided that even though I had no idea how to manifest an easy transition to being a non-smoker, that became my intention.  I had experienced it once, it existed.

I first addressed my mental and emotional attachment to the habit.  I had to find a way of doing this so that I didn't create more stress, since the point of smoking in the first place was to deal with the amount of stress I already had.  I knew I didn't possess the willpower to fight continuous urges to smoke.  I honestly reviewed my smoking history and came to the real conclusion that at no time did smoking a cigarette improve the original situation.  That became important to recognize after an honest investigation, because I couldn't argue from evidence that there was a discernible benefit and therefore a reason to start again if I felt tense.  I had to engage my logical brain.

BTW, nicotine gum or patches were not an option.  I once chewed half a piece of nicotine gum and thought I'd been poisoned.  Plus, it looked like yet another money sink.

Next, I had an urge one day to visit, as it often has some unique solutions to all sorts of health situations.  Wading through the pages on smoking, I came across the mention that someone had the bright idea that smoking was a form of "pica", consuming something inedible due to a mineral deficiency.  After a bit of web-searching, I found that the missing mineral was silicon.

Here's the cool piece of information:  Turns out that silicon requires B3 to assimilate.  B3, now called niacin or niacinamide, was renamed from what it was previously known as, nicotinic acid.  Smoking could be reflecting an underlying silicon deficiency.

All I can say is that when I read this it felt really correct to me.  I remembered that I had an old bottle of Horsetail herbal capsules and I knew Horsetail to be high in bioavailable silicon, and another bottle of B complex, and I promptly started taking these together.  (I later read that Horsetail has some amount of nicotine alkaloid as a constituent.  A piece of grace there for sure.  See The Energetics of Western Herbs, Vol. II, by Peter Holmes, p. 517.)

Right away about 90% of my interest in smoking simply stopped, and the remainder was mostly the weirdness of losing such an old habit.  The first two weeks I smoked a total of 2 cigarettes, and nothing since then.  I stopped on April 12th.  At any point that I felt a bit of susceptibility to smoking I reminded myself that 1) my throat still hurt a bit, and 2) smoking never improved anything, and I swallowed another cap of Horsetail.  Plus, organic cigarettes are pricey.

One of my hesitations about stopping smoking had also been that I didn't want to substitute eating or, as I had the previous time, compulsive coffee drinking, for the smoking reflex.  This time I have had no problem at all, I don't eat more or engage in any other type of compensation.  The habit is simply gone.

My throat has healed:  a recent cancer check has revealed nothing at all.  I stopped coughing within a week, and my chest and heart area now feel really well.

Here's an interesting short article about the role of nicotine receptors in focus and cognition:

I have training as a trauma therapist (Somatic Experiencing - amazing stuff).  One of the things I learned is that the inner experience of "helplessness" is almost intolerable to the psyche as it equates to "I'm about to be eaten/damaged/utterly vulnerable and there's nothing I can do to get myself to safety".  People will do most anything to avoid the experience of overwhelm and danger which accompany helplessness, whether the helplessness is perceived or real.  I smoked when I felt some overwhelm, meaning situations in which I felt helplessness.  My theory is that smoking equated in my nervous system to "taking an action in a time of emergency".  It was irrelevant that the action of smoking in no material way improved the situation - it was the inner experience of responding to a perceived emergency by taking an action which gave me an inner sense that I had avoided danger.  Whacky as this sounds, I've been observing for some time now that people feel really unglued often if they think there's nothing they can do about some situations, and it's an inner experience which mandates a filler action if an authentic action is unavailable.  Most of us are already so sympathetic nervous system dominant that we're spooked at every turn and this persistent felt-sense of danger is destructive to us.  In my case of stopping smoking, though I had removed smoking as an option, I had replaced it with being able to take the supplements, and the satisfaction that I was actually addressing a primary need (silicon and B3) rather than a secondary one generated by not being able to address the primary one.  I have a greater sense of capability in my life, plus nicer skin, nails and hair and more calmness from the supplements.

That's my story, thank you for reading.  This is an amazing development in my life and I have a great sense of freedom and greater wholeness.  I would wish this experience for others, to get out from under the belief that stopping smoking has to be arduous, involved, and possibly impossible.

I know that Dr. Schulze had a whole story about using lobelia for gradual smoking cessation.  For some reason I didn't feel that this would work for me, though perhaps it's indeed better for others with different constitutions or those who smoked a lot more as he had through second hand smoke as a kid and beyond.

Blessings, and once again, thank you for all you do!


Santa Barbara, CA


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