How I cured my “Smoker’s Cough” – with a dishrag

Many years ago, I was a heavy smoker. Actually, I started as an intermittent smoker, and built up to over a pack a day – some days. Gradually, I developed “smoker’s cough”.

How do we cure smoker’s cough? How do we know when it is cured? I’m not sure “smoker’s cough” is actually a disease. It does not appear to be listed in the ICD10 – the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. Even though most people have probably heard of smoker’s cough, the medical profession does not recognize it as a disease. Why not? Maybe it’s because diseases are usually described by symptoms, without reference to ’cause’. But that’s OK. In healthicine we recognize that we don’t cure ‘diseases’, we cure illnesses – one patient at a time, one illness at a time, one cause at a time.  Smoker’s cough is clearly an illness.  It has a cause.  It has symptoms. It can be cured, with or without a medical diagnosis – as can many illnesses.

What is a cure? Today’s medical science tends to avoid the word cure, and many current medical references and medical dictionaries do not define the word cure at all. The simplest, most clear definitions of cure are when an antibiotic is used to cure a bacterial infection. This cure can easily be tested, when the infection is demonstrated to be gone.

In healthicine, we define ‘cured’ as ‘when the cause of the illness has been addressed‘ we sometimes need to add – “and the damage done by the illness has been healed, as much as is possible”. This is a useful definition. Let’s explore it further.  Many different illnesses have different cures, and cure profiles.

I knew that to cure my smoker’s cough, I needed to quit smoking. Mark Twain said “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.” I had also given up smoking ‘several times’, but I was back at it again. And now I had an illness clearly caused by smoking.

What is the cure for smoker’s cough? Is there a medicine that can cure smoker’s cough? No. There is not. There are many medicines for cough – but none of them ‘cure’. They might sooth the throat.  They might make the coughing less severe. But they cannot cure – because no medicine addresses the cause of a cough. No doctor can cure smoker’s cough.  No clinic can cure smoker’s cough. Nothing you can buy will cure smoker’s cough – because the cure for smoker’s cough is not a ‘thing’, it is a ‘not thing’.  Not smoking.

Every cure, in the theory of healthicine, addresses the CAUSE of the illness. We know the cause of smoker’s cough – the illness and even the symptoms are named after the cause. How do we cure smoker’s cough? The path is clear.  Address the cause – stop the smoking. There might be another cure – most illnesses have more than one possible cure – even when the cure is not a medicine.  A patient might be able to cure smoker’s cough by ‘not inhaling’.

I decided to stop smoking, to cure my smoker’s cough. I had already quit, cold turkey, several times without success. I needed a plan. So I created one. First, I told myself that if smoking was for me – I would only smoke in the house, not in public. This first step was important.  Then – several months of success later – I added a second requirement, as follows.

I threw out all of the ash trays, but one. The one I kept was a large glass four sided ashtray. I put it up in the top cupboard. And I made a commitment to a new smoking rule. Whenever I wanted to smoke a cigarette, I would:

–  take down the ash tray
–  smoke my cigarette
– wash the ash tray
– wipe it dry
– put it back in the top cupboard.

It didn’t take long, before smoking became not just ‘a chore’, it became a dirty, filthy habit, that I had to clean up after – every time.  Very quickly, within a few days, I smoked less and less. Soon, I was down to one cigarette in the morning, and maybe one or two in the rest of the day. Then I picked a date, New Year’s Eve, for my last cigarette.  In total, it had taken me many months to quit smoking, and I never smoked again. I knew that if I did, I would have to wash the ash tray.

A illness consists of a cause and the consequences. If the cause is gone, there might be ‘damage caused by the illness’, but the cause is not there, the illness is not growing. Addressing the cause is the first cure.  In many cases, it is sufficient. In other causes, healing takes time.

My smoker’s cough healed relatively quickly after I stopped – it took about a month for a complete healing cure. Medicines are fast and loose, fast and dangerous. Health is slow and steady. In some people, depending on the severity of the illness, it might take months, perhaps even years, for the cough to be completely healed.

I haven’t smoked for 30 years now. There is no trace of my smoker’s cough. But let’s consider some other situations. Suppose a person stops smoking and three months later – there is no smoker’s cough.  At this point, we declare a complete cure. The cause has been eliminated – and the symptoms are gone.  The illness has been cured. Today’s medical professionals will not declare a cure. Why not? First, and perhaps most important – from a medical perspective, there was no medical treatment. The second reason is simply due to the risk of relapse or re-occurrence.

Relapse and re-occurrence are interesting concepts.  Medically, a relapse is usually defined as a relapse or re-occurrence of symptoms.

The patient might relapse, and start smoking again.  This might happen after three months, after the cure is completed, or six months, or even 30 years later.  When they start smoking again – they don’t have “smoker’s cough”.  Not yet. It might take a short time, or a long time for the illness to re-appear.

When smoker’s cough appears, again, in the cured patient, it is not a relapse of the illness, it is a new illness. How do we know this? Because the original illness was cured.  This is an important concept. Without it, every cure becomes ‘tentative’, and cures become impossible for any disease not caused by an external parasite.

Let’s look at the only cure that is well understood by medicine: a bacterial infection. Suppose a person is working in a job that exposes them to lots of dangerous bacteria. And they get a bacterial infection. The doctor prescribes an antibiotic, and the infection is cured.  The patient goes back to work, and after a week, or a month, or  a year – gets another bacterial infection.  Is it a NEW infection, or a remission?  Clearly, it’s a new infection. The cause of the prior infection, the bacteria, was addressed, and the infection was cured.  This is the model we use for all cures. When the cause is addressed, and the damage healed – as much healing as is possible – the illness has been cured. Future incidences are ‘new illnesses’, not re-appearances of the old illness.

What happens when we can take a higher level view.

When we view the cause of the bacterial infection as the dirty, unsafe workplace, this cause is actually a cause of a different illness – chronic infections. In this case, a patient with an infection has two illnesses – the current infection illness and the chronic infection illness.

No medicine can cure a chronic infection. As a result, in medical theory, chronic diseases are ‘incurable’. If we wish to cure a chronic infection, a higher level cure is required.  We need to address a higher level cause – to change the work environment.

Chronic illnesses have chronic causes. We can only cure a chronic illness by addressing the chronic cause. Note: We might view “smoker’s cough” as a chronic illness, that can only be cured by addressing the chronic cause – chronic smoking.

Back to our smoker. An illness only exists when cause and symptoms exist together. The patient might relapse into smoking, but without any symptoms – they have not (yet) relapsed into the illness. Then several things can happen.

The patient might quit smoking again.  And never get smoker’s cough again.

The patient might continue to smoke, and get a new case of smoker’s cough.

This is important to the definition of ‘cured’. If every new case is treated as a ‘non-cure’, then we can never be certain any illness has been cured. To cure, we need simple rules:

– a cure exists when the cause has been addressed
– healing is a secondary cure, seldom perfect

With these two rules, we can cure “smoker’s cough”, and many more illnesses that are judged to be incurable today.

But take note, we can’t cure smoker’s cough with medicine, we can only cure it with health.  Health is the best preventative.  Health is the best cure, the only true cure.” – The Healthicine Creed.

Curing “smoker’s cough” is trivial in theory – but difficult in practice. It’s the same with many illnesses  No medicine, no doctor can cure the illness, although they might point the way. When a doctor gives a medicine that does not cure – without any further advice, they are avoiding attempts to cure. We can do better. Every illness can be cured, but only if we try.

to your health, tracy

Note 1: The concept and process of cure in this post follows the model established in the Healthicine Cure Process Diagram, first published in the post: Is Your Disease Curable? or Incurable?

Note 2: These cures come from healthicine, not from medicine, they cure illness, not disease. Thus, there is no need for this qualifier – “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” – as it is both true, and false. The intent of healthicine is to find cures, not to market medicines.

About Tracy Kolenchuk

Founder of Healthicine.org. Author of two books about healthicine; Healthicine: The Arts and Sciences of Health and Healthiness Healthicine: Introduction to Healthicine
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