Mind and Body Approaches for Smoking Cessation: Review

Although the number of studies involving mind and body research for smoking cessation is small, results of a recent review suggest that yoga and meditation-based therapies may help people quit the habit. The review of the literature was funded by NCCAM and published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

The authors reviewed 14 clinical trials to assess the effect of mind and body practices on smoking cessation and to explore future directions for research on these approaches for nicotine addiction. Of the 14, 3 studies applied yoga, 3 used breathing techniques, and 8 focused on meditation. Among the findings:

  • Five studies reported smoking abstinence rates of 21 percent to 56 percent following treatment.
  • Six studies examined the effects of mind and body approaches on cigarette cravings and desire to smoke and found reductions in both.
  • Two studies reported 20-percent and 26-percent decreases in the number of cigarettes smoked per day.
  • Although there were differences in the outcome measures and study quality, all 14 studies demonstrated some positive results related to smoking cessation.

The authors noted that due to the scarcity and limitations of the research available, larger and more rigorous studies are needed to determine if yoga and meditation are efficacious as aids for smoking cessation. They also noted the need for the future directions in mind and body research to include clinical trials with objective measures of yoga and meditation practice, adequate control conditions, and standardized outcomes.

*Image of “yoga” via Shutterstock

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