Acupuncture for Smoking Cessation: Does it Work?

An increasing number of smokers are turning to acupuncture and other alternative forms of treatment when nicotine gum or patches or prescription medications have failed. Although many scoff at the idea, research studies are suggesting that the ancient Chinese technique may actually help motivated smokers to give up the habit.

Smoking is a powerful addiction and stopping is a serious challenge. Many smokers try and fail several times before they finally say goodbye to cigarettes for good, and some ex-smokers say that kicking the smoking habit is more difficult than stopping heroin or cocaine.

Does it Really Work?

One study published by the American Health Foundation followed 46 healthy male and female smokers who were divided into a test group and a control group. The test group received acupuncture on recognized anti-smoking acupoints while the control group received acupuncture on acupoints with no recognized effect on smoking

Researchers found that acupuncture treatments provided motivation for smokers to quit or reduce smoking for as long as five years or more.

The kicker is that acupuncture isn’t a magic potion, but it can make it a little easier to quit smoking, especially during the early days when withdrawal symptoms are intense. However, smoking is still difficult and acupuncture (or other treatments) aren’t likely to help if the smokers isn’t truly motivated to stop.

Although acupuncture can reduce the physical cravings and relieve difficult withdrawal symptoms, it’s ultimately up to you to make a serious commitment to change old habits, especially if you use cigarettes as a tool to cope with difficult emotions or anxieties.

For many smokers, acupuncture is most helpful when used in conjunction with other stop-smoking programs such as support groups, hypnotherapy, meditation or herbal medicine.

What to Expect

The acupuncturist inserts hair-thin needles into certain points on the body. Most people barely feel the tiny needles and many people fall asleep during treatments.

Most smokers typically receive two or three acupuncture treatments per week in the beginning, tapering to weekly treatments as cravings diminish. Treatments generally continue for one or two months.

Acupuncture is said to regulate energy flow, calm the mind, reduce anxiety, detoxify and strengthen the lungs and boost metabolism. As an added benefit, you may discover that the treatments help with mood and sleep.

Most importantly, acupuncture can help reduce withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, cough, jitters, irritability, depression, anxiety and constipation. It also reduces the flavor of tobacco, thus making smoking less enjoyable.

If you decide to try acupuncture for smoking cessation, be sure to work with a qualified, licensed acupuncturist,

During treatment, patients are also advised to:

  • Exercise more
  • Breathe deeply
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid sugar and junk food
  • Increase intake of fruits and vegetables
  • Drink green tea instead of coffee

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