Former smokers can attest that nothing is as hard as quitting smoking. Nowadays, the harmful effects of smoking are well-known, but almost 12 in every 100 American adults still smoke and about 1 in 20 vape. All together, approximately 5.5 million people between the ages of 18 and 44 vape!
Our lungs are powerful organs that bring oxygen and vitality into our bodies. It’s a powerful detoxifying organ, and if we weigh down our lungs with toxins, we deprive ourselves of that beautiful vitality.Of course, we always want to give our lungs a little bit of extra love by letting them heal themselves from the toxins in our day-to-day lives. :)
While I’ve previously addressed how to heal your lungs from vaping my vlog, emerging research now reveals its implications for your digestive health. In this comprehensive review, I delve into the profound impact vaping can have on your overall well-being and provide valuable insights on the path to healing from its effects.
The Dangers of Vaping
While vaping is often promoted as a healthier alternative to smoking, it is important to dig deeper into its potential dangers. Although vaping eliminates tobacco carcinogens, it introduces a new array of chemicals that can raise concerns for our well-being.
The Unknown Chemicals in Vapes
Unlike the well-documented toxins in tobacco smoke, the precise composition of e-cigarette vapor can vary significantly, making it challenging to identify and fully understand the potential risks. These chemicals, such as propylene glycol and vegetable glycerol found in e-liquids, undergo complex reactions when heated, releasing fumes that may have detrimental effects.
Just like with cigarettes, vaping is still associated with health problems including lung disease, lung damage, heart disease and asthma symptoms. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other public health agencies began investigating an outbreak of severe lung injury associated with vapes and e-cigarettes. A chemical called vitamin E acetate was strongly linked to the outbreak; vitamin E acetate is a condensing agent found in products like vape juice.
Vaping has also been associated with bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious lung disease better known as popcorn lung. This was so named because it was originally found in people who worked in a popcorn factory around the chemical diacetyl, which gave the popcorn a buttery flavor. Thankfully, diacetyl has long since been removed from popcorn, but can now be found in e-cigarette vapor.
Popcorn lung causes scarring in your lungs’ air sacs, which makes the airways in your lungs thicken and narrow. This causes symptoms similar to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), such as coughing and shortness of breath. COPD is another lung disease that’s common among smokers.
Nicotine: A Nasty Habit
While vapes may not contain the traditional carcinogens associated with cigarettes, vapes still contain nicotine, a stimulant that increases dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is one of your brain’s “happy” chemicals, and this extra dopamine boost makes it so your body “needs” more nicotine to get more dopamine. Nicotine is highly addictive, and it is considered one of the most addictive substances known to humankind.
Nicotine addiction is also accompanied by severe and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. While nicotine itself is not directly responsible for the many harmful effects associated with smoking, it is the addictive component that keeps individuals hooked on tobacco products.
One of the primary concerns with nicotine is its impact on the cardiovascular system. Nicotine causes the blood vessels to constrict, resulting in increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure. This can strain the heart and circulatory system, increasing the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes!
Nicotine’s impact on the respiratory system extends far beyond surface-level discomfort. It disrupts the delicate balance of our respiratory pathways, causing airway constriction and triggering inflammation that impedes the body’s natural healing process. This makes it challenging to restore and rejuvenate the lungs, hindering their ability to function optimally.
Vaping and Your Gut Microbiome
E-cigarette use isn’t just bad news for your lung health, it’s bad for your gut health too.
I’ve written a lot about how vital your gut health is to your overall health— needless to say, this is bad news if you’re a smoker or a vaper!
One review published in Biomedicines found that e-cigarette use has been associated with lower gut microbiota variability; this means that the good bacteria in your gut are less robust and less diverse than in nonsmokers.
In one study included in the review, stool samples were taken from three groups: smokers undergoing smoking cessation (trying to quit), nonsmokers, and current smokers. Predictably, smokers had lower bacterial diversity in their samples than nonsmokers, and even those in the process of quitting.
Another study found that chronic e-cigarette use led to chronic inflammation and a leaky gut, where microbes, food particles, et cetera leak out of your intestines and back into your gut. Aleaky gut can contribute to digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as well as some cancers and heart disease. This inflammation and a leaky gut are caused by chemicals in vape juice, namely propylene glycol and vegetable glycerol.
In vapes, propylene glycol is an emulsifier that keeps everything mixed together, while vegetable glycerol is a thickening agent that produces more intense flavors and more water vapor.
Our gut is the cornerstone of our well-being, influencing not only our digestive health but also our immune system, mental clarity, and emotional balance. It serves as a gateway for nourishment, absorption of essential nutrients, and the elimination of toxins. However, when nicotine enters our system through vaping, it disrupts this delicate balance.
By choosing to step away from vaping and embracing a holistic approach to nurture your gut health, you empower your body’s natural healing abilities and set the stage for a renewed sense of well-being.
What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Vaping
So much good happens in your body when you stop vaping.
Within just 20 minutes of your last vape, your blood pressure and heart rate return to normal levels. After 24 hours, your heart attack risk drops, and continues to drop the longer you stop vaping. After 2 days, your senses of taste and smell grow stronger; vaping kills the cells that help you taste and smell.
After at least one month, your lung health and lung function improve and after 9 months, your lung cilia are healthy again and can return to fighting infections. Cilia are little hair-like structures that push mucus out of your lungs and help fight infections; chemicals in vape juice damage these delicate structures and prevent them from keeping your lungs healthy.
After 1 year, your risk of heart attacks and heart disease are reduced by half, and your blood pressure reduces further. After 10 years, your risk of certain cancers— such as pancreatic, throat, and lung cancer— is cut in half.
How to Heal Yourself from Nicotine
As you saw above, there are so many good reasons to kick the butt (or vape pen) and eliminate nicotine from your life. Here are 5 ways to heal your body naturally from vaping or smoking.
1. Quit Smoking/Vaping
I know this is far easier said than done. Beauty, quitting smoking or vaping is the first and most important step you can take towards healing your body naturally. It may be challenging, but with determination and support, you can break free from nicotine addiction and reclaim your health.
Allowing toxins to naturally leave your body can be an unpleasant process, but it’s necessary to return your body to ideal health. The inflammation will disappear, and your body will finally begin to reclaim its healthy state.
2. Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Food is the first cornerstone of true beauty here at Solluna. Food not only helps you make shifts in your physical body, but in your emotional and spiritual body as well. Anti-inflammatory foods can help your body heal from the inflammation caused by tobacco smoke or vapes. Here are a few of my favorites:
Turmeric (I like it in salad dressing, in roasted veggies, or in elixirs likegolden milk)
You can also take a digestive enzyme supplement to help your gut heal. A supplement like this helps support your body’s digestive system and makes for more easeful digestion, especially while your gut flora are still recovering from nicotine usage.
3. Tongue Scraping
This may sound strange, but trust me here! This is part of our second cornerstone, body. Dailytongue scraping helps remove the toxins from your tongue. In Ayurveda, it’s believed that tongue scraping helps stimulate other organs too.
I like to do my daily tongue scraping in the morning right before I brush my teeth. It’s fast, easy, and a great way to get rid of those extra toxins.
4. Deep Breathing
A deep, cleansing breath is a very powerful thing. Deep breathing exercises can help those with asthma (the American Lung Association even recommends them!) as well as those looking to heal their lungs. Deep breathing exercises promote better lung health by cleaning old cells out of your lungs, and strengthening your breath.
A meditation practice can also help you breathe deeply and heal. If you’re not sure where to start with meditating, check out my7-day meditation series!
5. Take a Good Probiotic Supplement
Remember, vaping and smoking affect your gut health too. And your gut health matters throughout your entire body, not just your digestive tract.
A diverse and robust gut microbiome helps strengthen your immune system, improve your digestion, and helps your body naturally detoxify. A good probiotic supplement can also help you repopulate your gut microbiome with those good bacteria as you stop smoking/vaping and allow your body to heal.
After the Smoke Has Cleared, You’ll Feel So Much Better!
Nicotine addiction, along with the chemicals present in cigarettes and e-cigarettes, poses significant risks to our lungs, gut health, and overall vitality. Smoking and vaping are the greatest causes of preventable health problems— and while kicking the habit can be difficult, it’s so worth it for the sake of your health.
Remember, it’s never too late to prioritize your health and make positive changes. By adopting these holistic approaches, you can heal your body naturally and embark on a path of vibrant well-being.
I hope you found these tips helpful. I want your lungs to be healthy, and for you to feel as amazing as you should. :)
In good health,
“Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 Aug. 2021, www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html.
Antinozzi, Martina, et al. “Cigarette Smoking and Human Gut Microbiota in Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review.” U.S. National Library of Medicine, Biomedicines, 21 Feb. 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8962244/.
“Study: E-Cigarettes Trigger Inflammation in the Gut.” UC San Diego Health, health.ucsd.edu/news/press-releases/2020-01-07-e-cigarettes-trigger-inflammation-in-the-gut/.