Acupuncture as an alternative approach to smoking cessation has a growing number of converts. In fact, acupuncture is often a court-mandated treatment for drug addicts because of its ability to reduce cravings and alleviate withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety and difficulty concentrating.
Stop Smoking with Acupuncture
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Among current U.S. adult smokers, 70% report that they want to quit smoking and millions try to quit every year. If you have attempted to quit smoking, you know how difficult it can be. Nicotine is a powerful addiction. In fact, research suggests that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.
It is estimated that most smokers will attempt to quit two or three times, or more, before finally kicking the habit. When conventional methods to quit smoking have failed, smokers often look outside mainstream approaches and turn to alternative medicine.
Acupuncture as an alternative approach to smoking cessation has a growing number of converts. In fact, acupuncture is often a court mandated treatment for drug addicts because of its ability to reduce cravings and alleviate withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety and difficulty concentrating.
A Formidable Addiction
More than 50 million Americans smoke. The numbers are even higher in other parts of the globe, with worldwide statistics showing that one out of three people over the age of 18 are smokers.
The reasons to quit smoking are endless. Cigarettes have 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds and 400 other toxins. These include nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide, as well as formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic and DDT. According to the CDC, tobacco is the cause of 443,000 premature deaths each year, and is associated with emphysema, lung cancer, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, chronic cough and an increase in frequency of colds and flu.
Many people want to quit because of the enormous expense of a cigarette habit or are just plain tired of being dependant on a substance. There is also considerable social pressure not to smoke. Most smokers can recall a dirty look or rude comment from someone that was nearby when they lit up.
How Does Acupuncture Help Break the Cigarette Habit?
Acupuncture is successful with smoking cessation and has turned a growing number of cigarette smokers into permanent ex-smokers. Treatments take all of your symptoms into account and aim at balancing the energy within the body to optimize health.
The acupuncture treatments focus on jitters, cravings, irritability and restlessness; all symptoms that people commonly complain about when they quit. It also aids in relaxation and detoxification.
In one study conducted at the University of Oslo, Norway, acupuncture was found to significantly reduce the desire to smoke up to five years after the initial treatment. Subjects of the study also reported that cigarettes tasted worse than before treatment and that the treatments had effectively reduced their taste for tobacco.
The acupuncture needles used are hair-thin. They are superficially inserted into various points in the ears and body to assist with smoking cessation. In between treatments, small pellets are often taped to the acupuncture points on the ear. When a cigarette craving hits, gently pressing on the pellets stimulates the acupuncture points to calm the mind and eliminate the craving.
Acupuncture is not a panacea or a magic cure in the treatment of any addiction, including smoking. But, acupuncture is effective in making it easier to quit and remain smoke-free for good.
If you are ready to quit, call an acupuncture provider near you for a consultation to see how acupuncture can empower you to take control and begin a healthy and smoke-free life!
What Points Are Used?
Each patient is custom-treated according to his or her specific and unique diagnosis. Usually a combination of body acupuncture points and points on the ear are used that are believed to influence the organs and energetic pathways associated with smoking.
Commonly Used Points for Smoking Cessation include:
- Lung Upper and Lung Lower
- Hunger or Mouth
- Tim Mee– an extra-meridian point located on the wrist between LU-7 (Lieque) and LI-5 (Yangxi), a specific point to quit smoking.
- The Four Gate Points (LI-4, LV-3)- would be used to circulate energy (Qi) throughout the body and calm the nervous system.
Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. After removing the needles, ear press needles or silver pellets are often applied to stimulate the points between treatments and reduce cravings.
Are There Herbs To Help Me Quit Smoking?
Often you are prescribed herbs or supplements to control cravings or withdrawal symptoms.
There are three areas to address for herbal support; dryness and tissue repair, irritability and cravings.
- A Lung Yin Tonic such as Ophiopogonis Combination (Mai Men Dong Tang) is often used to moisten the lungs and mouth which can prevent cravings and repair tissue damage caused by smoking.
- A Chinese herbal formula to calm the spirit may be used for irritability. Bupleurum plus Dragon Bone and Oyster Shell (Chai Hu Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang) can help relieve irritability and anxiety associated with detox. Many people use this formula to help them through stressful situations and prevent relapses.
- Lobelia Tea (Ban Bian Lian) or Green Tea can be sipped daily during the detox period to keep tissues flooded with elements that discourage nicotine cravings. (Lobelia is traditionally used to rid the body of a strong toxin such as a snake bite.)
NOTE: The improper use of Chinese Herbs can be dangerous. Please consult with a licensed acupuncturist and herbologist before taking any herbal products.
Eight Tips to Quit Smoking
What Lifestyle and Dietary Changes Should You Make?
- Exercise more. Getting moving is a great way to remind yourself why you shouldn’t smoke. Exercise can reduce your stress and help you relax far better than cigarettes.
- Get plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable juices to neutralize and clear the blood of nicotinic acid and to fortify blood sugar.
- Carrots, Carrot juice, celery, leafy green salads and citrus fruits promote body alkalinity and decrease cravings.
- Avoid junk food, sugar and coffee. They can upset blood sugar levels and increase blood acidity which can aggravate smoking withdrawal symptoms.
- Lobelia Tea or Green Tea can be sipped daily during the detox period to keep tissues flooded with elements that discourage nicotine cravings. Lobelia is traditionally used to rid the body of a strong toxin such as a snake bite.
- Drink water. Research shows that dryness causes cravings. Sip water frequently throughout the day.
- Practice deep breathing exercises to increase body oxygen and keep calm.
- Schedule your acupuncture treatment!
How Many Treatments Will I Need and How Long Do they Take?
The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last from five to 30 minutes, with the patient being treated one or two times a week. Some symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.
A stop smoking program will often consist of 4-6 initial treatments scheduled in the first few weeks followed by monthly treatments for four to six months.
Find an acupuncture provider to help you quit smoking on Acufinder.com
Preventive Medicine. Volume 33, Issue 5, November 2001, Pages 364-372