Quitting Smoking with Acupuncture
Well, it is March and nearly springtime! Many of us who made New Year’s resolutions are finding those a distant memory now. Maybe your resolution was to quit smoking or using tobacco this year. We are all aware of the very real and serious dangers of smoking. However, smoking and other tobacco use still remains fairly high considering the possible consequences. In my experience, most smokers I know plan to quit “some day.” One of my acupuncture clients recently said to me (regarding his smoking habit), "Why am I paying somebody to kill me?" Harsh words, but this sentiment helped him to quit, and acupuncture helped him do it.
Acupuncture is thought to be around 3,000 years old, and in many ways remains a mystery as to why it is so effective. Chinese medicine is a very gentle way for your body to achieve balance and is particularly effective to help you quit smoking. The treatment helps your body's "three filters" (i.e. lungs, liver, and, kidneys) work optimally to rid your body of the nearly 2,000 chemicals smoking introduces into the lungs and bloodstream, and also helps with the stress and emotions that come with quitting. There is a smoking protocol most acupuncture practitioners use that involves counseling, herbal formulas and acupuncture points in the ear to help combat the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Many acupuncturists also put adhesive magnets in the ear following the treatment to help sustain the effects of the treatment through the week.
Herbs are also a key component of quitting, and most smoking cessation herbal formulas have components to help the lungs function better, calm the nerves, and combat the cravings after quitting. Withdrawal typically starts a few hours after the last cigarette and peaks at 72 hours, although cravings may last for quite some time after that. Some other things that acupuncture can help with are the irritability and cravings people experience, as well as fatigue, poor concentration, headache, anxiety, and restlessness. Most acupuncturists generally recommend 3-6 treatments to quit smoking, generally once per week, and twice in the first week. There is research that shows it takes 21 days to form a new habit and in my experience most people will successfully quit if they can make it nicotine free to this 21-day point.
Most people choose their first acupuncture treatment day as their quit day, and have cleaned their cars, homes, and work places of all smoking items. Other people opt for a gradual withdrawal and are smoke free by the end of three weeks. Your acupuncturist will also help you explore things to do when a smoking craving hits, such as eating celery, sunflower seeds, or doing a project with your hands, such as a puzzle, or knitting. It is also helpful to have your car detailed to rid it of the odor of smoking. Either way you choose to quit; either cold turkey or gradually, acupuncture can help you live a smoke-free life, without becoming addicted to nicotine patches, e-cigarettes, or gum. The Integrative Healing Institute also has other modalities to help your stress levels as you’re ridding your body of nicotine, like massage, reflexology, and lymphatic drainage to help with release of toxins. Let us know if you too would like help living a smoke-free life!
Read more about Acupuncture and Herbs.
About Leslie Droege
Leslie Droege, LAc, RN first became interested in Chinese Medicine after a trip to China during her 20 year Air Force career as a nurse. She has a BSN (Nursing) from the University of Kansas, MA from Webster University in St Louis, and a Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAcOM) from the Graduate School of Integrative Medicine at AOMA in Austin in 2008. She is currently working on the Applied Clinical Nutrition Certification from Parker University in Dallas.