Drink green tea to get over the nicotine urge, say Chinese researchers -- and this is a finding that medical professionals in Kerala have reacted positively to. "Green tea, which is rich in antioxidants, can help in restoring the oxidant/antioxidant imbalance among those who have quit tobacco-use completely, both smoking and smokeless, provided they have used it long enough to cover the impact of the period of use," said Varughese.
A study titled 'A Revolutionary Approach for the Cessation of Smoking', published in Science China Life Sciences, a peer-reviewed open-access journal, cites how researchers used custom-developed cigarettes with components of green tea as filters in a bid to treat addiction to smoking.
Phinse Philip, a lecturer in the Community Oncology Division of the Malabar Cancer Centre, said pharmacotherapy such as nicotine replacement therapy had generally been found effective in getting smokers to give up the habit.
"A majority of users smoke as it purportedly gives them some form of relaxation. The oral intake of the amino acid L-Theanine, uniquely found in green tea, is known to have anti-stress effects and acts as a relaxing agent. The study conducted in China shows that green tea may be an alternative to quit this addictive habit," Phillip said.
Even though there has been a nationwide ban on smoking in public since 2008, it continues to be rampant in public places in Kerala, including bus stops and cinema halls.
Around 21.9 per cent of Kerala's population is addicted to smoking and in the process, makes itself vulnerable to a wide variety of diseases such as cancer, heart ailments and osteoporosis.
Thomas Varughese, head of surgical oncology and reconstructive surgery at Kochi's Lakeshore Hospital and Research Centre, said drinking green tea after quitting smoking completely could contribute to reversing the possibility of lung cancer.
He also pointed out that smokers typically have low levels of vital nutrients like Vitamins C and E, zinc, calcium, folate and the Omega-3 essential fatty acid which are vital for the human body's immune system and proper metabolic activity.
"Consumption of green tea can boost the body's immune system by fighting free radicals and can reduce the risk from damage caused by toxins in cigarette smoke," Varughese added.