Smoking cigarettes causes cancer - a tagline every cigarette packet has in our country. Still people smoke and smoke in abundance. But why? Nicotine addiction may appear mild but is slowly taking away the youth of the country to ill health habits.
Many try the cold turkey approach and return to smoking just after a few days or weeks and in the best possible cases months. However, there are various astounding cases where people ditch cigarettes successfully with strong determination and in various cases with the help of professionals.
In recent times many people trying to ditch cigarettes turn to herbal cigarettes. There's a strong misconception that the word herbal is the same as the word healthy. Not necessarily, in fact, in the case of cigarettes, it differs widely.
Herbal cigarettes are also popularly called as tobacco-free or nicotine-free cigarettes. They are made up from a mixture of several herbs that are claimed to assist in the habit of stopping smoking cigarettes. However, there has been research that shows that herbal cigarettes can be equally or in various cases more harmful than tobacco cigarettes.
Various researches have shown that using herbal cigarettes is primarily equivalent to burning plant materials which can lead to direct production and consumption of carbon monoxide, polyaromatics, nicotine, and N-nitrosamines.
Thus, they are potentially dangerous to human health and must be avoided, as per specific research. However, instead of going though one study, we must inspect the truth thoroughly to make a mindful decision.
What are herbal cigarettes?
Herbal cigarettes are basically 100% tobacco or nicotine free cigarettes and are made up from several herbs like Damiana, Mullein, Coltsfoot, Ginseng, Mug wort, Peppermint, Lavender, Thyme, Clove, etc.
The exact constituents of the herbal cigarettes vary with different brands. Let’s have a quick look at some of these components.
Damiana - This herb comes with a pleasant appearance, smell, and also is good in taste. It has a hickory-like flavor that is an ideal combination of mint and pepper and primarily assists in creating a pleasant smoke.
Mullein - It is a medicinal herb with various health boosting elements like flavonoids, saponins, phenylethanoid glycosides, iridoids, etc. It also has vitamin C, and is helpful with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, antiviral, and antihepatotoxic activities. Overall,, mullein is really beneficial to anyone’s health
Ginseng - It is said to have various pharmacological activities, and comes with a very strong flavor. Ginseng is usually employed with honey and fruit juices for consumption.
Peppermint - This medicinal herb comes with a cooling effect and provides the users with a strong menthol flavor. Additionally, peppermint is also helpful in reducing the nicotine’s irritation and harshness and overall soothing the taste.
Lavender - Addition of Lavender essential oil reduces the anxiety and tobacco cravings among cigarette smokers. It is also helpful in tobacco withdrawal symptoms among smokers.
Thyme - This medicinal herb comes with a distinctive aromatic odor. Primarily thymol has potential therapeutic uses and is helpful in the treatment of respiratory, neurological, as well as cardiovascular diseases. This is why thymol is an integral part of most herbal cigarettes.
Cancer and Smoking: A Connection?
Cigarette smoke has more than 5000 chemicals and most of these chemicals are potentially harmful to the human body. As much as 70 of these identified chemicals cause cancer among active smokers and passive smokers. When cigarette smoke enters the body, they directly impact our lungs and other body organs.
The chemicals present in cigarette smoke damages our DNA and parts of the DNA that protects us against cancer. Thus they actively contribute towards causing cancer among the smokers. Toxins like tar and carbon monoxide which are primary components of tobacco burning are renowned carcinogens leading to cancer among individuals.
Evaluating Herbal Cigarettes and Cancer Risk
When evaluating the impact of herbal cigarettes and cancer risk, the two important factors at play are, the toxicity and addiction among the users. Based on these two factors, we can easily identify the impact of herbal cigarettes.
Toxicity of Herbal Cigarettes
As per a research the smoke of herbal cigarettes made up of Artemisia do consists of several toxic substances. They ran an analysis of the identified toxic substances which involved conducting a mutagenicity test on smoke condensates. Further the team compared the developed results with the corresponding values of the usual tobacco based cigarettes. The result concluded the following:
- The smoke of the herbal cigarettes does not consist of detectable levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines or nicotine.
- The tar content of the smoke is the same as the tar content of the nicotine based cigarettes.
- The herbal cigarettes contain significantly higher level of carbon monoxide and benzo(α)pyrene contents
- The smoke of the herbal cigarettes consists of phenolic substances like hydroquinone, resorcinol, and catechol, albeit with a lower cresol level.
- The mainstream smoke of the herbal cigarettes also consists of Aromatic amines, such as 4-aminobiphenyl.
Overall, the mutagenic potential of the smoke of the herbal cigarettes were also identified as higher than those of the regular nicotine based cigarettes.
Addiction Probability of the Herbal Cigarettes
As per available data, people indulged in herbal cigarettes are more prone to addiction to smoking. This makes it difficult to understand the efficiency of the herbal cigarettes actually being helpful to the smokers trying to ditch nicotine.
Are Herbal Cigarettes a Safer Alternative to Traditional Cigarettes?
Due to the fact that herbal cigarettes are free from detectable levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines or nicotine, many people view them as safer alternatives. However, it's essential to focus on the fact that they have significantly higher levels of tar and carbon monoxide, which are active carcinogens.
However, more research is required to produce a viable answer to this question. When trying to ditch cigarettes, you can also take help from experienced professionals for a healthy and successful journey of nicotine free life.
You can also try Hemp based cigarettes from Trost. The Hemp cigarettes are Ayush Ministry approved and certified and are helpful in ditching the habit of nicotine.