Mind-body practices: an alternative, drug-free treatment for smoking cessation? A systematic review of the literature

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013 Oct 1;132(3):399-410. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.04.014. Epub 2013 May 8.


Objective: The limited success of current smoking cessation therapies encourages research into new treatment strategies. Mind-body practices such as yoga and meditation have the potential to aid smoking cessation and become an alternative drug-free treatment option. The aim of this article is to assess the efficacy of yoga and other meditation-based interventions for smoking cessation, to identify the challenges of clinical trials applying mind-body treatments, and to outline directions for future research on these types of therapies to assist in smoking cessation.

Methods: A systematic review of the scientific literature.

Results: Fourteen clinical trials met the inclusion criteria defined for this review. Each article was reviewed thoroughly, and evaluated for quality, design, and methodology. Although primary outcomes differed between studies, the fourteen articles, most with limitations, reported promising effects supporting further investigation of the use of these practices to improve smoking cessation.

Conclusions: The literature supports yoga and meditation-based therapies as candidates to assist smoking cessation. However, the small number of studies available and associated methodological problems require more clinical trials with larger sample sizes and carefully monitored interventions to determine rigorously if yoga and meditation are effective treatments.

Keywords: Cigarette craving; Meditation; Mindfulness; Nicotine dependence; Systematic review; Yoga.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / trends
  • Humans
  • Meditation / methods
  • Meditation / psychology
  • Mind-Body Therapies / methods*
  • Mind-Body Therapies / psychology*
  • Mind-Body Therapies / trends
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Smoking / therapy*
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Cessation / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Yoga / psychology