Electronic Cigarettes: Not the Best Way to Beat Stress

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM


Electronic cigarettes and your healthSome claim that utilizing electronic cigarettes is a safer alternative to tobacco, and could in fact aid in reducing stress hormones and cause relaxation in your body. It’s also been said that using electronic cigarettes could help you quit smoking. But if you have Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), it’s essential to understand whether electronic cigarettes could, in fact, improve your condition or backfire instead.

Electronic Cigarettes and AFS

Many people try to cope with stress by reaching for an electronic cigarette, but it’s crucial to recognize the consequences that could follow if you have AFS.

A major cause of withdrawal symptoms from smoking is a decrease in cortisol levels and an increase in stress. So, if you have AFS, an attempt to stop smoking could result in a double challenge.

Smoking also increases the stress on your adrenal glands and could have negative consequences for AFS and hypothyroidism.

So, could electronic cigarettes be a solution to smoking cigarettes, or are they just as detrimental to your health?

Electronic Cigarettes vs. Tobacco

The main ingredient in electronic cigarettes is nicotine. Nicotine has been linked to causing your adrenal glands to work harder due to its stimulatory effect on cortisol and adrenaline. Both of these stress-related hormones upsurge your heart rate, drastically constrict your arteries, worsen your blood lipid levels, intensify insulin resistance, and boost your blood pressure. Nicotine has also been found to increase the risk of cancer, as it interferes with apoptosis and promotes the growth of new blood vessels, also known as angiogenesis, a building block of tumors.

In addition to getting nicotine from electronic cigarettes, most studies have found that you will most likely end up using tobacco at the same time, as a matter of practical reality for most people.

Using electronic cigarettes could help reduce the number of cigarettes you use, which alone decreases the risk of cancer, heart conditions, and many other conditions. The use of them has also helped many people succeed in quitting smoking, more so than people who decided to quit by trying to go cold turkey, which is not recommended if you are already a long-term smoker and have AFS.

However, smoking electronic cigarettes is not in itself good for you. Having prolonged stress causes heart conditions of many kinds, and adding electronic cigarettes to your routine only speeds the development of those conditions.

Electronic cigarettes researchWhile some sources may claim the use of electronic cigarettes is safer than smoking tobacco, they could be as addictive as tobacco, which has known withdrawal problems. If you cease smoking, your cortisol levels can become imbalanced, leading to the cravings and common withdrawal symptoms many face when trying to stop smoking.

Nicotine activates the dopamine hormone in your brain, giving you the “feel good” sensation. This feeling of reward and pleasure is what makes it so addictive, as it activates the HPA axis in your brain. This leads to a release of cortisol hormones and catecholamine hormones.

Electronic cigarettes have been directly linked to cardiovascular conditions, brain conditions, and mental decline. Furthermore, they stress your adrenal glands, as the release of cortisol hormones while using them only worsens AFS.

As you probably already know, smoking, tobacco, and electronic cigarettes are ultimately not the best options for your health. However, if you are already a smoker and are trying to quit, there is some possibility that electronic cigarettes are better for you than traditional tobacco cigarettes. If you don’t already smoke though, don’t start.

Effects of Stress on Health

Stress can cause serious heart conditions to develop, such as Broken Heart Syndrome. Stress leads to more than just difficulty in trying to drop some weight; it impacts your physical and mental health dramatically. Stress can cause insomnia, as you lie awake at night wondering why it’s so difficult for you to fall asleep. Moreover, stress can possibly lead to hair loss, inability to focus, digestive discomfort, and even AFS. When AFS has developed, your heart rate and blood pressure remain high, and your cortisol hormones imbalanced. Your entire biological clock is disrupted, leading to various health consequences.

Other conditions caused by stress can include:

    • Sleep onset insomnia or sleep maintenance insomnia
    • Increased cravings, especially for unhealthy foods
    • Eczema and other rashes
    • Increased possibility of developing depression
    • Inability to focus and think properly
    • Chronic fatigue
    • Suppression of your immune system

Electronic cigarettes effects

  • Inability to complete ordinary tasks and chores
  • Increased in inflammation
  • Various heart conditions
  • Improper reproductive function
  • Negative effects on cognitive health
  • Quickens aging
  • Damage to blood vessel lining
  • Lack of sexual drive

Research has found that electronic cigarettes could cause serious damage to your heart, even if you were not previously smoking tobacco. Several studies have linked damage to the heart with exposure to e-cigarettes containing nicotine.

You are much better off reaching for the safest ways reduce your stress levels, improve your AFS, and prevent heart conditions from developing: holistic and natural remedies.

How Stress Affects Your Body

It’s essential to note that stress in and of itself is not entirely bad. In fact, stress could be extremely beneficial for you in numerous ways. If you’re being chased by a bear, or perhaps something more practical, like nearly being hit by a car, stress causes your body to go into fight-or-flight mode. When this occurs, your digestive system does not function properly, as your heart rate and pulse upsurge. Your blood pressure rises, and many bodily other systems are suppressed and don’t function properly.

In life or death situations, this fight-or-flight stress reaction could save your life. Your body’s natural mechanism is built to deal with these various types of short-term stress, adapt to it, and then balance itself out.

However, experiencing stress all day and night due to an inability to meet work deadlines, finish chores while preparing meals for your family, resolve emotional distress, or complete various tasks could cause you to develop other health conditions down the line.

Experiencing one stressful day won’t cause a heart condition, but when the stress is prolonged and chronic, your body suffers the consequences. Your adrenal glands, small glands on top of your kidneys, continuously pump hormones (including cortisol, the stress-related hormone) to combat the stress hormones gushing through your bloodstream. When the stress becomes chronic, your adrenal glands become overworked and eventually cause disruption to your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system, leading to AFS.

With that being said, while it may seem that using electronic cigarettes could give you a temporary sense of relief and energy, they could in fact cause long-term issues. Similar to the use of marijuana for stress-relief, it can result in various side effects for those with sensitive systems – if not at first, then possibly later on.

Holistic Methods to Diminish Stress

Instead of reaching for electronic cigarettes to reduce your stress and anxiety levels, try some of these methods instead. Keep in mind that it’s always safest to consult your healthcare practitioner prior to starting any new food, herbal supplement, exercise regimen of any kind, or dietary practice, as they can help determine how things with interact with your body individually.

The following are great ways to naturally reduce stress and avoid feeling the need for an electronic cigarette:

    • Get sufficient sleep every night.
    • If you struggle with sleep-onset insomnia, have a light snack before bed.
    • Eliminate drinking alcohol, coffee, caffeinated teas, or other caffeinated beverages.
    • Use an oil diffuser with lavender essential oil for relaxation.
    • Drink herbal teas such as peppermint, chamomile, sage, or lavender to relax.
    • Take power naps during the day around noon.
    • Use Epsom salts for warm baths (many contain natural essential oils).

Options for stopping electronic cigarettes smoking

  • Take a calm walk in the park or in your neighborhood.
  • Take a break from technology.
  • Reduce if not completely eliminate processed food, sugar, fast-food, and deep-fried food.
  • Consume more omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish, sardines, walnuts, or cod liver oil.
  • Practice relaxing hobbies, such as art, drawing, crafting, or reading.
  • Eliminate refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners.
  • Get organized, minimize your belongings, declutter your workspace, and start using a planner or to-do-list app.
  • Take a supplement such as magnesium, B vitamins, or L-theanine.
  • Eat whole foods found in nature.

These methods can help keep stress from becoming chronic and can help resolve the root cause instead of bandaging your symptoms with short-term solutions that create more problems later. You may not find results overnight, but the natural and healthy management of AFS takes patience and perseverance.

Unlike adopting electronic cigarettes, focusing on stress relief and health won’t cause other major health consequences down the line. While it may take more work now, it’ll do your health wonders later. Check your vitamin levels, observe the foods you are eating often, and speak to your healthcare practitioner about how you can be on the path to recovery, naturally.

© Copyright 2018 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.


Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Although they may sound like a safer alternative to smoking tobacco or using other drugs, electronic cigarettes are in fact extremely harmful to your health, and adrenal glands as well. They may temporarily bring a sensation of relief, but they don’t improve stress levels in the long-run.


Electronic cigarettes