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Monday, 12 February 2018

Smoking. Quit with E-Cigarettes? Or with Homeopathy?

Conventional medicine has been uncertain about whether E-cigarettes, an electronic device that delivers nicotine vapour to our lungs, should be used for patients who want to stop smoking. However, it would appear that the NHS has reached a decision. E-cigarettes are now tone considered "a medical device".

This represents a bizarre situation in the UK. The conventional medicine establishment being prepared to pay for e-cigarettes whilst at the same time trying to ban homeopathy from NHS funding!

The NHS Choices website, which is the website I generally use to outline conventional medical treatment for illness, says that E-cigarettes "allows you to inhale nicotine without most of the harmful effects of smoking, as the vapour contains no tar or carbon monoxide". It says that research has found that e-cigarettes can help in giving up smoking, and that patients "may want to try them rather than the medications listed above". It says that it expects "medicinally licensed e-cigarette products become available" soon, and that doctors "will be able to prescribe them". The advice until then is to buy a device.

Stop Smoking with Conventional Medicine?
As the main reason for smoking is addiction to nicotine the idea that a device to introduce nicotine to the lungs might stop the addiction seems rather fanciful!. So what are the alternatives to e-cigarettes?This is what the NHS Choices website offers.

          Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
NRT is described as a medication that provides the patient with a low level of nicotine, without the tar, carbon monoxide and other poisonous chemicals present in tobacco smoke. NHS Choices says that it can help reduce unpleasant withdrawal effects, such as bad moods and cravings, which may occur when you stop smoking. It come in many different forms, as skin patches, chewing gum, inhalators, tablets, oral strips and lozenges, and nasal and mouth sprays. The treatment is said to last between 8-12 weeks. It says that although most people can use these, "it may be advisable to get medical advice first, for example, if you have kidney or liver problems".The following side effects are then reported
  • skin irritation when using patches
  • irritation of nose, throat or eyes when using a nasal spray
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia), sometimes with vivid dreams
  • an upset stomach
  • dizziness
  • headaches
As usual, NHS Choices is rather conservative in letting patients know about the full side effects. The Medicine Plus website is slightly more forthcoming, saying that "all nicotine products may cause side effects",  including those mentioned above, but addition some 'special concerns'. Contrary to NHS Choices it states that this treatment may NOT be completely safe in pregnant women, and they should be kept from children as "nicotine is a poison'.

               Varenicline (Champix)
This is NHS Choices next suggestion. This is a drug that seeks to reduce cravings for nicotine but also to block "the rewarding and reinforcing effects of smoking". It has the audacity to claim that "evidence suggests it's the most effective medication for helping people stop smoking".

It is a pharmaceutical drug that has one of the worst safety records!

So it is only available on prescription, and is 'not recommended' for children under 18 years of age, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people with kidney problems, and as usual admits to only a few of the less serious side effects, including feeling and being sick, insomnia, vivid dreams, dry mouth, constipation or diarrhoea, headaches, drowsiness and dizziness. The website is more honest, listing side effects such as
  • difficult or laboured breathing
  • hyperventilation
  • tightness in the chest
  • Anger
  • anxiety
  • feeling sad or empty
  • feelings of panic
  • irregular heartbeats
  • irritability
  • loss of interest or pleasure
  • mood swings
  • restlessness
  • seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • insomnia, sleepwalking, abnormal dreams, nightmares
  • thoughts of killing oneself
  • difficulty having a bowel movement (stool)
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • lack or loss of strength
  • nausea, vomiting
  • stomach pain, heartburn, indigestion
  • body aches or pain
and many others. Anyone considering taking this drug should read this long list of serious side effects rather than believing that the information provided by conventional medicine is an honest and transparent account of its dangers to our health!

               Bupropion (Zyban)
This drug is the next recommendation, "a medication originally used to treat depression, but it has since been found to help people quit smoking". It is available on prescription only, and again, it is not recommended for children under 18, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people with epilepsy, bipolar disorder or eating disorders. And again it mentions just a few minor side effects, such as dry mouth, insomnia, headaches, feeling and being sick, constipation, difficulty concentrating and dizziness. As usual, the website can add considerably to this list.
  • Anxiety
  • hyperventilation
  • irregular heartbeats
  • irritability
  • restlessness, inability to sit still, need to keep moving,
  • shaking
  • buzzing or ringing in the ears (tinnitus?)
  • skin rash, hives, or itching
  • confusion
  • false beliefs that cannot be changed by facts
  • having extreme distrust of people
  • seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • seizures
  • Actions that are out of control
  • anger, assaulting or attacking others, being aggressive or impulsive
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • fast or pounding heartbeat
  • constipation
  • stomach pain
  • unusual weight loss
  • Blurred vision
Stop Smoking with Homeopathy?
So for people who wish to stop smoking, conventional medicine can either offer drugs with serious side effects, and now e-cigarettes - which is just a different way of assuaging the addition to nicotine. So what does homeopathy have to offer. The Doctors Health Press website provides several alternative means of breaking the smoking habit, including this list of homeopathic remedies.

Tabacum is a remedy made from tobacco. It helps for those that experience nausea, motion sickness, vomiting with cold sweats, watery diarrhoea, vertigo, paleness, angina and palpitations, depression, and sexual weakness. Cold air improves symptoms, but things worsen from heat.

Caladium Seguinum
Caladium sequinum helps with those that cannot experience a bowel movement without having a cigarette first. Other symptoms present when caladium is necessary may include asthma, nausea, vertigo, headaches, impotency, depression, nervousness, and sensitivity to noise.

Ignatia is used when there is an aversion to tobacco smoke. Common symptoms (treated) will include toothaches, spasms, twitches, tics, faintness, and chilliness. They also have suppressed grief, anger, shock, and fear. They are also an idealist and become sensitive quite easily. Symptoms worsen from touch.

Lobelia is made from Indian tobacco. It is used for smoking withdrawal, especially when the person has asthma, emphysema, a weak stomach, indigestion, vomiting, intense nausea, vertigo, cold sweats, and a lot of saliva. The person is also a hypochondriac, and fear leads to shortness of breath.

Nux Vomica
Nux vomica is appropriate when the person experiences irritability, depression, stress, insomnia, and anxiety when they are trying to quit smoking. Besides cigarettes, the person will also likely abuse other stimulants like alcohol, drugs, and coffee. The person is also very quite critical, driven, and uptight by nature. They also have a lot of unsatisfied urges.

Plantago will help create a dislike for tobacco. The person’s symptoms will include facial neuralgia, earaches, toothaches, eye pain, restlessness, irritability, red wetting, depression, and insomnia from tobacco. Movement seems to improve symptoms, but things worsen from touch and resting.

Staphysagria is great for people with addictive tendencies, including the need for tobacco, alcohol, food, TV, sex, and attachments to relationships. Hunger is also common, along with cravings for milk, bread, and sweets. The person is also obsessed with sex and masturbation. Tobacco use will cause angina, heartburn, coughing, itchy skin, and frequent cystitis. Suppressed rage and anger are also common.

There are many other homeopathic remedies that can help eliminate the craving for nicotine Arnica is good for reducing craving), and the withdrawal symptoms people experience when trying to stop smoking (Avena Sativa is particularly useful for this). In contrast to conventional treatments, all these homeopathic treatments are safe. So what is the NHS proposing to do?
  • To ban the safe treatments
  • To promote the unsafe treatments
Does this sound like a reasonable or rational health policy?