It is no mystery that smoking is detrimental to one’s health. Yet many Americans find it difficult to quit the habit and free themselves from nicotine addiction. While there are a plethora of anti-smoking substances that can aid in smoking cessation, is it possible that incorporating regular sauna use into your smoking cessation plan may help people to quit smoking once and for all?
Dopamine Release For Smokers and Non-Smokers With Regular Sauna Use
Addiction to nicotine effects neural receptors in the brain, and when these receptors do not receive their expected hit, deep lows in mood have the potential to cause suicidal ideation, which keeps smokers smoking. The reason for this drop in mood is directly related to the dopamine that is released when nicotine is ingested.
It is not a stretch to see how something that helps to boost dopamine in the body could help smokers during their recovery. Regular sauna use provides an array of benefits, including a release of dopamine. Therefore, saunas may be just the tool some smokers may need to finally say farewell to smoking forever.
For non-smokers, it may seem like insanity to smoke given all of the information we have available today regarding the negative effects of smoking. The reality is that addiction to cigarettes involves a complex dependency of neurotransmitters in order for the brain to produce chemicals that allow the smoker to feel ‘pleasure or happiness’.
The National Institute of Health published an article entitled: “Pharmacology of Nicotine: Addiction, Smoking-Induced Disease, and Therapeutics”, which outlines what happens to the brain for individuals addicted to nicotine (the active ingredient in tobacco that makes it so addictive). This article purports the following to help better understand nicotine addiction and the brain:
“Nicotine sustains tobacco addiction, a major cause of disability and premature death. Nicotine binds to nicotinic cholinergic receptors, facilitating neurotransmitter release and thereby mediating the complex actions of nicotine in tobacco users. Dopamine, glutamate, and gamma aminobutyric acid release are particularly important in the development of nicotine dependence, and corticotropin-releasing factor appears to contribute to nicotine withdrawal.” (1)
For many individuals understanding the biochemical mechanisms behind nicotine addiction can help to release them from the bondage. When neuro-receptors do not receive their anticipated hit of nicotine, during smoking cessation, smokers trying to be non-smokers become low in dopamine, and can experience emotional turmoil that makes quitting seem impossible.
If it is possible to release dopamine through healthier choices, it may make quitting smoking a little easier. For some newly smoke free individuals, exercise may not be accessible, or it may be difficult to find the motivation to exercise in order to receive the dopamine replacement.
The complex biochemical changes that occur in a sauna session, may not completely replace the satisfaction of a nicotine craving, however, it will provide dopamine to individuals.
Ideally, if an individual is weaning themselves off of tobacco use with Nicorette, or other smoking cessation aids, the addition of regular sauna use and its accompanying dopamine level increase in the brain, may tip the scales enough in favor of quitting smoking.
Detoxification From Years Of Smoking With Sauna Use
- Nicotine (the addictive drug that produces the effects in the brain that people are looking for)
- Hydrogen cyanide
- Radioactive elements, such as polonium-210 (see below)
- Carbon monoxide
- Tobacco-specific nitro (2)
The plethora of harmful toxins found in cigarettes is alarming to say the least. The good news is that many of these substances can be removed from the body with intensive passive perspiration as experienced in a sauna. Whether you are still smoking, in the process of smoking cessation, or have successfully quit smoking, you CAN remove many of the toxic substances found in cigarette smoke and begin to truly heal your body.
Regardless of the type of sauna you choose, intensive sweating three times a week for at least twenty minutes can profoundly alter internal pathogens and toxins. Even for long time smokers it is still possible to amplify detoxification from many substances absorbed through smoking by taking a sauna.
It is possible to heal the body almost completely from smoking, and detoxifying the body of harmful substances can go a long way to speeding this process up. If you are trying to quit smoking, then you may find that using a sauna will help to motivate you to continue on your way as you detoxify the body and day by day move toward greater levels of health.
According to the American Cancer Society, many tobacco alternatives contain many harmful substances that will need to be removed from the body. (2) If you are using a tobacco-based smoking cessation aid to help you quit smoking, sauna use will be helpful in removing these additional toxins from the body.
Can Relaxing Help You Quit Smoking?
A major roadblock for smokers trying to quit is that they have relied on cigarettes to cushion the emotional challenges of stressful life events. Many smokers will light up as work stress increases, or after a challenging commute home in traffic.
Work stress, relational stress, or any challenging life events can all lead to increased smoking. If smokers have a way to ‘turn down’ the stress that comes from outside stimulus, the quitting process will become easier.
Regular sauna use helps to regulate the autonomic nervous system, the part of the body responsible for feeling ‘stress’ or ‘relaxation’. Even though smoking can feel like a release for smokers, it actually elevates heart rate and blood pressure rather than calming the nervous system down. (3)
Smoking causes more stress on the body, even if it feels to the smoker as if stress has been removed. By providing smokers, or individuals looking to quit smoking, an alternative to smoking for ways to find relaxation it can make the quitting process seem more attainable.
Smoking cessation is challenging because the brain is programmed to crave a nicotine hit on the neuroreceptors, while the body and emotions are adapted to using smoking as a means of dealing with the stresses and challenges of life. Sauna therapy can be an extremely helpful tool to anyone that wants to quit smoking, and is an excellent means of detoxification from years of smoking.