The Evil Weed

Quit Smoking with Acupuncture
by Lucy Postolov, L.Ac.

As published in January, 1998 issue of Whole Life Times

In the battle against addiction there are three warriors: the physician, the patient and the addiction. If the patient is on the side of the doctor, the doctor can win. If the patient is on the side of the addiction, the addiction will win.

This bit of wisdom especially true in the battle to quit smoking. Cigarette smoking is one of the leading-and most preventable-causes of death and disease in the United States today. Despite known health risks, more than 50 million Americans continue to smoke, according to the American Lung Association. Many struggle to quit.

So why don’t they? Because nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to man-more addictive than marijuana, prescription drugs or even cocaine. Kicking the habit is never easy, but it can be done. If you truly want to quit, an acupuncturist can be a powerful ally in helping you win your battle.

Breaking any addiction is only successful when the patient is highly motivated. Trying to quit to please someone else is not enough; you must want to do it for yourself.

Cold Turkey:
For motivated smokers, there are two methods of kicking the habit using acupuncture. The first is for those with very strong willpower-the smoker quits smoking on the day of the first appointment. Four to six acupuncture treatments are administered, two on consecutive days, then every other day. After that, the patient returns once a month for a “tune-up”. The second method is more gradual. For example, a smoker with a pack-a-day habit smokes only 18 cigarettes on the day of the first treatment. Each day, he continues to decrease the number of cigarettes until he gets down to one, and finally stops. He sets the pace of the process.

When a smoker quits, the nicotine toxicity rises to the surface triggering craving and symptoms of withdrawal. Acupuncture reduces the craving and relieves the anxiety, irritability, depression, headache, insomnia and muscle cramps that are commonly associated with nicotine withdrawal. Over time, with consistent treatments, the discomfort will be replaced with feelings of balance, calm and well-being.

Acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating addictions fist came to light in the 1970′s, when a Chinese neurosurgeon, H.L. Wen, was using acupuncture as an anesthetic to prepare a patient for surgery. The patient, who was withdrawing from opium at the time, noticed that his withdrawal symptoms disappeared after the acupuncture treatment. Wen tried the same procedure on other patients in withdrawal, with the same results.

Today, clinics throughout the United States are using acupuncture to help patients detoxify from nicotine, alcohol and drugs. Even the U.S. Government recognized the effectiveness of this ancient Chinese medical practice; it sponsors an acupuncture program to treat drug addiction in prisons.

How it works:
The human brain is a natural pharmacy that contains everything we need for well-being. By inserting hair-thin metallic needles at certain points on the body, the acupuncturist ‘wakes up’ the body’s natural healing system, stimulating the flow of energy along pathways in the body called meridians. This painless process causes the brain to release endorphins-the body’s natural tranquilizers-into the bloodstream. Endorphins have a chemical structure that closely resembles morphine. So instead of getting high from a cigarette, you get a natural “high” from acupuncture.

The unique bioelectrical properties of acupuncture points can also cause changes in blood pressure, heart rate and immune system response. One acupuncture point even triggers a natural “aversion therapy” by creating an unpleasant sensation in response to tobacco.

Yes, you can:
Acupuncture treatments last approximately 30 minutes. Soft music and guided meditation enhance the healing process. Visualizations help change the belief system from “I can’t quit” to “I can.”

With the proper motivation, even the heaviest smoker can kick the habit in two to four weeks, followed by a series of monthly “tuneups” Additional treatments are recommended during periods of stress or if cravings recur.

No matter how many years you’ve been smoking, it’s never too late to quite. You’ll start seeing benefits immediately.

The power to heal and relax is inside of you. Acupuncture can help you Marshall your own inner resources to kick the smoking habit, once and for all. -L.P.