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Updated: Apr 18, 2022

My grandmother, on my father’s side, was a God-fearing woman. She had a prayer for every occasion, in the expectation God would save her a place in heaven. I still keep a notebook in which I wrote her daily prayers. An image that I’ve kept in my memory is of her digging out of her skirt pocket a little box, filled with rapé, the Portuguese word for snuff. Rapé comes from the French word ‘râper’, meaning scraped tobacco. She placed a pinch of snuff first in one nostril and then the other and inhaled it in one sitting. In her other hand she held a tissue she used to wipe her nose afterwards.

Today some people use snuffs as a means to gradually quit smoking, or to minimize secondhand smoke exposure.

Smoking never lured me. The first and only time I smoked a cigarette made me feel very uncomfortable. It irritated my throat, made me cough and the taste was very aggressive. That was an experience I certainly will never try again. On top of that, secondhand smoking always bothered me.

Mentha x piperita

Menthol increases the harm of smoking cigarettes and enhances the cravings for nicotine.

The ‘buzzing’ effect in the brain is what smokers seek. If nicotine is eliminated quickly from the blood, smokers crave more and more cigarettes until they feel the pleasing ‘buzz’ once more. Prolonging the time nicotine stays in the blood is a means to getting more pleasure. Menthol slows the enzymes in the liver that break down nicotine which then stays in the blood longer. Here, again, menthol in cigarettes makes people enjoy smoking with a higher intensity.

People who get addicted to nicotine usually have many difficulties when  deciding to quit. The withdraw symptoms being their main obstacle. The rewarding effect that compels smokers to crave for cigarettes is due to the action of nicotine in the brain activating Mu opioid receptors (MORs). They feel a sensation of well being and their anxiety levels drop.

Some herbs and foods help reduce the withdraw symptoms.

- Phyllanthus niruri 3

As a substitute for nicotine, ellagic acid also activates MORs receptors in the brain with an anxiolytic effect. Scientific studies show that ellagic acid reduces the withdrawl symptoms and  helps people quit smoking. Besides quebra-pedra, ellagic acid is also found in fruits such as raspberries, walnuts, cranberries, strawberries and peaches.

When you decide to quit smoking don’t be surprised if your cravings for strawberries, walnuts or peaches heighten.

Bibliographic references

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