reports on a natural way to help you stop smoking…


Smoking accounts for more avoidable public health damage than anything else, including obesity. The path to giving up the vice is paved with smoking cessation aids, such as nicotine gums and patches and the drug varenicline (Chantix).

But there’s another treatment that works at least as well. Though it’s been in use since the 1960s, many American doctors have never heard of it. It costs a fraction of what Pfizer’s Chantix does, and it’s even cheaper than patches and gums.

The treatment is cytisine, a plant-based drug that blocks nicotine receptors in the brain much like Chantix does. The drug has been used to treat more than 20 million people.

According to a study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it is at least as effective as nicotine replacement in helping smokers quit and avoid relapses.

Natalie Walker, Ph.D., a research fellow at New Zealand’s National Institute for Health Innovation, tracked 1310 patients who had called New Zealand’s smoking-cessation hotline. The groups were randomized by ethnicity, gender, and level of addiction.

Half of the volunteers got nicotine replacement therapy and half got cytisine. Both groups got behavioral support as well, which public health groups say is a key part of any effort to quit.

After one month, 4 in 10 people using cytisine said they hadn’t smoked. Among those who received nicotine-replacement therapy, 3 in 10 had avoided smoking. At two and six months, more cytisine users were still tobacco-free. The drug was particularly effective for women.

Dr. Norman Edelman, a senior medical advisor at the American Lung Association (ALA), said the group “is happy to see a new entity available for smoking cessation.”

The ALA encourages people to quit smoking, however they do it.

“Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do to improve your health and extend your life,” Edelman said.

Quitting for Less

If smokers can quit for less money, all the better.

Most of the world’s smokers live in developing countries and can’t access high-cost smoking cessation aids. According to World Health Organization data, smoking rates are highest in Pacific Island and Eastern European nations. In Latvia, one-third of all adults smoke.

Cytisine, which Walker called “the poor man’s varenicline,” may be more practical.

According to the new study and to the consumer drug comparison site GoodRx, a 25-day standard course of cytisine runs about $25. One month’s worth of varenicline costs roughly $300. (At the median cost in the United States, a pack-a-day smoking habit costs slightly more than that.

The cost of nicotine replacement varies, but a month’s worth of nicotine patches goes for about $80.

Bridging the Knowledge Gap

“Cytisine is really, really cheap and it’s quite effective, so why isn’t it everywhere?” Walker asked.

One reason is the side effects, which were more common in the study group taking cytisine. Of those with side effects, more than 80 percent said they would recommend it. The side effects are similar to those of Chantix: bad dreams, nausea, and vomiting.

The bigger issue is a knowledge gap about the drug.

“Most of the research [on cytisine] has been undertaken in countries that are non-English speaking and the studies are published in journals that aren’t in English. So the Western world just ignores them,” Walker said.

The studies that were used to develop dosing recommendations, for instance, are not publicly available.

Four European Union countries have approved the drug, while 12 countries outside the union have, according to Walker. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved it for use in the United States.

Extab Pharmaceutical holds the licensing rights to one of two brand name versions of the drug, Tabex. The company plans to conduct a clinical trial of Tabex in the United States. Extab is backed by a pharmaceutical investment company that brings neglected drugs to market.

Walker’s goal for the study was to open the door for more research on the drug in Western countries.

“We need to get to know more about this medicine,” she said.


Here’s a fascinating article from about breathing, and how it affects weight loss…


According to researchers from the University of New South Wales in Australia, when weight is lost, the majority of it is breathed out as carbon dioxide. Their paper is published in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

Prof. Andrew Brown and Ruben Meerman reported widespread misconception regarding how weight is lost, finding physicians, dietitians and personal trainers all equally guilty of not knowing. Most believed that fat is converted to energy or heat, “which violates the law of conservation of mass,” they write.

Others believed that fat could be excreted within feces or converted to muscle. These responses may well have provoked gasps from Brown and Meerman, who have now formulated a calculation to illustrate how we actually “lose weight.”

Excess dietary carbohydrates and protein are converted to a type of fat called triglyceride. When people attempt to lose weight, they are attempting to metabolize these triglycerides while keeping their fat-free mass intact, explain the authors.

Triglycerides are comprised of three types of atom: carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Triglyceride molecules can be broken down only by unlocking these atoms, through a process known as oxidation.

Tracking the atoms

The researchers chose to follow the path of these atoms when leaving the body. They found that when 10 kg of fat were oxidized, 8.4 kg were converted and excreted as carbon dioxide (CO2) via the lungs, and 1.6 kg became water (H20).

In order for 10 kg of human fat to be oxidized, the researchers calculated that 29 kg of oxygen must be inhaled. Oxidation then produces a total of 28 kg of CO2 and 11 kg of H20.

“None of this biochemistry is new,” say the authors, “but for unknown reasons it seems nobody has thought of performing these calculations before. The quantities make perfect sense but we were surprised by the numbers that popped out.”

The results suggest that the lungs are the main excretory organ for weight loss, with the H20 produced by oxidation departing the body in urine, feces, breath and other bodily fluids.

On average, a person weighing 70 kg will exhale around 200 ml of CO2 in 12 breaths each minute. The authors calculate that each breath contains 33 mg of CO2, with 8.9 mg comprised of carbon. A total of 17,280 breaths during the day will get rid of at least 200 g of carbon, with roughly a third of this weight loss occurring during 8 hours of sleep.

The carbon that is lost through exhalation is only replaced through the consumption of food and beverages such as fruit juice, milk and soft drinks. “Keeping the weight off simply requires that you put less back in by eating than you’ve exhaled by breathing,” state the authors.

‘Eat less, move more’

The amount of carbon that is lost can be increased with exercise. By substituting 1 hour of rest for 1 hour of moderate exercise such as jogging, the metabolic rate is increased sevenfold, removing an additional 40 g of carbon from the body, increasing the daily total by around 20% to 240 g.

However, this can easily be offset with unhealthy eating. A single 100 g muffin, for example, provides around 20% of an average person’s total daily energy requirement. “Physical activity as a weight loss strategy is, therefore, easily foiled by relatively small quantities of excess food,” write the authors. The solution is a traditional one – “eat less, move more.”

“We recommend these concepts be included in secondary school science curriculums and university biochemistry courses to correct widespread misconceptions about weight loss,” they conclude.

Although the findings of the paper may alter how weight loss is understood, strategies for losing weight should remain unchanged. Eating less and moving more is a surefire way to combat the overindulgences of the festive season.


7 foods you can easily regrow

November 23, 2014

Here’s 7 foods you can easily regrow. There’s a source link for each food that explains how to regrow each food in detail. Do you have any tips for growing your own food? I’d love to hear them in the comment section!   1. Carrot Top Greens Carrot top greens can transform something you might […]

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Add these natural ingredients to your smoothies to help treat diabetes

November 10, 2014

Here’s a good blog post about 7 natural ingredients that help treat diabetes. I suggest adding these to your smoothies or juices because some of them, such as cinnamon or ginger, are hard to eat on their own. They’re not mentioned in the blog, but aloe juice and green tea can also help regulate glucose […]

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