Use Acupuncture to Quit Smoking


Posted by julia

Use Acupuncture to Quit Smoking


Why Quit?

We all know that smoking causes cancer, but once you look at the numbers you realize the severity of the problem. Each puff of a cigarette houses 4,000 chemicals, including arsenic, ammonia, acetone, carbon monoxide, and many other cancer-causing agents. Smoking increases the risk of stroke, lung cancer, COPD, infertility, premature delivery, low birth weight, and stillbirth. It also causes many forms of cancer such as stomach, kidney, mouth, cervical, bladder, and lung cancer.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 43.8 million people, or 19.0% of all adults in the US smoke cigarettes. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the US, accounting for more than 440,000 deaths, or one of every five deaths each year. On average, smokers die 10 years earlier than nonsmokers. Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths per year, and current trends show that tobacco use will cause more than 8 million deaths annually by 2030. If you think the damage is irreversible, think again. Within 10 years or less after quitting, the body has repaired & healed itself completely. So don’t wait any longer! 

How Does Acupuncture Work to Quit Smoking?

Acupuncture works really well for addictions by managing cravings and withdrawal symptoms while promoting overall relaxation and balance. The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) is a 5-point protocol on the ear that is used worldwide to manage and deal with substance abuse problems. There are many potential withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, fatigue, cough, irritability, and anxiety. Acupuncturists take into account the person’s smoking history, current health condition, mental and emotional state, and check the tongue and pulse.  Acupuncture has a profound effect on the nervous system, and can affect heart rate, stress response, mood, oxygen uptake, and digestion.

In 2011, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture as an adjunct to substance abuse treatment. Many drug courts were already mandating acupuncture as an adjunct to the substance abuse treatments, and they wanted to see its effectiveness. In the BJA review of the literature, they determined that acupuncture reduced cravings and symptoms of withdrawal when combined with conventional treatment plans.

What Points are Used?

I always use the 5-point NADA protocol on both ears along with acupuncture points on the body on the body specific to each individual patient. People experience different symptoms and have many changes throughout the process, and I believe it’s important to adjust the treatments accordingly. After the treatment, I also send the person home with ‘ear seeds’, which are tiny metal seeds on an adhesive placed on the ear that stimulates the ear points in between treatments.  Some people like to press them during times of stress or a craving and it seems to help!

Ear points:

  • Lung 2 – addiction related lung issues, cough, shortness of breath, grief/sadness
  • Shen Men – ‘Spirit Gate’ in Chinese medicine, reduces overall stress and anxiety
  • Autonomic Point – balance symphathetic and parasymphathetic nervous systems, blood circulation
  •  Liver – hepatitis, cirrhosis, manages irritability, frustration, changes in mood
  • Kidney – kidney disorders, urination issues, fatigue, promotes motivation and will

How Many Treatments Do I Need?

The guideline is usually 10 treatments, 5 days the first week and 1-2 treatments per week for the remaining 5. Of course everyone is different and sometimes schedules and treatment protocols change.  After you are smoke-free and feel confident, I do recommend to come in once per month for maintenance and to keep everything balanced.  Many patients report a decrease in cravings, better sleep, less anxiety, and an increased sense of calm. Interestingly, many people’s senses change, and they can no longer tolerate the smell or taste of smoke, which is pretty awesome!

Lifestyle Tips

A lifestyle plan will keep you focused on a healthy wellness track so you feel your best and are able to handle the elimination & detoxification process.

  • Be gentle with yourself. Set reasonable goals, don’t compare yourself to other people’s progress, live in the moment, and stay positive. Your attitude about the whole process is an important step to reaching and keeping your goals.
  • Eat more of an alkaline diet – (eat more greens and veggies, less coffee, sugar, greasy foods) which promotes overall immunity and health, decreases cravings
  • Drink lots of water – dehydration causes cravings, water energizes the cells and detoxifies the body
  • Deep breathing (meditation / yoga / exercise) – increases oxygen, decreases stress, focuses on the present moment, improves overall mental and physical health
  • Manage Cravings – Studies show it takes about 30 seconds for a craving to dissipate.  Plan out what you’ll do during a craving – chew gum, call a friend, go for a walk
  • Trust – You already have everything you need inside of yourself to quit. Imagine yourself already smoke-free. What does it feel like? What does it look like? How does it improve your quality of life? How does it improve your relationships with other people and yourself? How does it affect your physical and mental health? It’s time to live the life you always dreamed.

Best in Health,


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