The media is reporting that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving forward with the requirement that cigarette companies reduce the amount of nicotine in their products. This is based on the premise that nicotine is the addictive factor in cigarette smoking.
That’s why nicotine patches and e-cigarettes are proposed as aids for people to stop smoking.
I believe the source of the addiction is not nicotine, but the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke. If you measure the carbon monoxide level of smokers, you will see that it is higher than normal. And when they quit it usually returns to normal.
Most smokers say that they smoke to relax or when they are under stress. Nicotine is a stimulant. Therefore, it is not a likely the factor in cigarette addiction.
On the other hand, elevated carbon monoxide can relieve stress and anxiety.
Most smokers will tell you that when they stop, the third day is when they most want to smoke. This fits the idea of carbon monoxide addiction because at standard atmospheric pressure, it takes three days to clear the body of excess carbon monoxide.
I have used hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to help patients quit smoking. It works because one treatment at 2.0 ATA for one hour will bring carbon monoxide level down to the normal range.
The people that I have treated with HBOT to assist in their stopping of cigarette smoking found that after coming out of the treatment they have no more yearnings for the cigarettes.
It should also be noted that carbon monoxide poisoning is a proven indication for HBOT, and therefore should be reimbursable under insurance coverage.
I suggest that if you are going to undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy as part of a smoking cessation program, take a blood sample and have it evaluated for carbon monoxide levels before and after the hyperbaric oxygen therapy so that you can have something that objectively documents the value of HBOT.
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