Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health, however many smokers downplay the seriousness of the issue until they have to face smoking’s critical effects. Yet statistics prove that smoking is a severe problem with more than 40 million Americans currently admitting to being smokers, and around half a million deaths occurring in the United States every year that have a link with the habit. Cigarette smoke contains about 4000 different toxins and there is an extensive list of ailments and diseases associated with smoking tobacco including hypertension and lung cancer. It is easy to see, therefore, that smoking is a very dangerous habit and those who indulge ought to consider quitting as soon as possible. However the journey towards becoming smoke free can be very challenging and therefore it is important to consider a range of methods to quit.
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a type of Chinese traditional medicine which has been in existence for generations. It has its basis on the theory that chi (or energy) flows around and through the body along meridians (pathways). Acupuncturists believe that when the chi becomes blocked or unbalanced, illnesses occur. Acupuncture is one way to influence or unblock chi, allowing it to flow back into the correct balance, thus curing ailments. Acupuncture is performed by putting thin needles into the skin at particular points of the body to influence the flow of energy. Sometimes, pressure, mild electrical currents or heat are also used together with the needles.
Can Acupuncture Help To Quit Smoking?
Many of the methods used to quit smoking can prove to be equally as addictive as cigarettes, albeit less harmful. There are, however, no negative effects to acupuncture and indeed, many of the side-effects of the treatment are actually positive. Although acupuncture’s effectiveness has not yet been scientifically certified, there is a widely held belief that acupuncture has a role in manipulating and controlling the mechanisms of addiction, even if it cannot immediately cause someone to stop smoking. Acupuncture is thought to be able to change a person’s habits and to improve their management of their addiction by reducing their irritability, improving their mood, reducing their cravings, detoxifying the body, increasing relaxation, lessening restlessness, restoring balance in the constitution, jumpstarting the process of healing and improving sleep quality. For some time now, acupuncture has been used as a way of curbing cravings and combating addiction and there is now research available to back up the acupuncturists’ claims.
How Does It Work?
It is a fact that acupuncture has been able to turn many smokers into successful quitters as the treatment takes all of the known symptoms into account and balances the body’s energies to optimize health. Acupuncture treatments for smokers focus on the cravings, jitters, restlessness and irritability that are associated with quitting the habit to boost detoxification and relaxation. Acupuncture uses hair-thin needles which are inserted into parts of the body and ears to help smoking cessation. Between treatment sessions, in many cases, pellets are sometimes taped to points on the ear which can then be pressed to stimulate the pressure points whenever a craving hits in order to eliminate the craving and calm the mind. While this treatment is in no way a magic cure for addiction, it does help to make the quitting process easier and more effective in the long term.
Every patient receives a customized treatment according to their own diagnosis. They will then receive acupuncture into a combination of points on the body to influence the energetic pathways and organs linked to smoking. The most common points include points on the ear for:
- Lower and Upper Lungs
- Mouth or Hunger
As well as the Four Gate Points to circulate energy around the body and to calm down the nervous system, there is also the Tim Mee point on the wrist which is specifically used to help quit smoking as it alters the way that tobacco tastes to the patient.
An average treatment takes between 5 and 30 minutes and a patient usually receives one or two treatments each week.
Just Acupuncture Won’t Do
Unfortunately, although acupuncture can help with the process of quitting smoking, it is unlikely to be enough on its own to allow a committed smoker to entirely give up the habit. Addiction to nicotine is complicated and difficult to overcome and therefore a smoker must really want to quit or acupuncture will not work. It functions best when it is used in combination with other methods such as hypnotherapy and herbs.
Acupuncture mainly works to address the physical side of addiction and is a helpful tool as an alternative to some of the more traditional methods of quitting smoking such as nicotine replacement therapies like nicotine gums and sprays.