The Evidence Shows That Acupuncture is Effective for Smoking
Medical agencies around the world agree – quitting smoking is one of the most important things smokers can do to improve their health. Quitting is easier said than done, though, and the relapse rate for smokers is still 25 percent five years after they stop.
If you’re quitting tobacco, eastern medicine can improve your odds. Eastern medical treatments, including acupuncture and herbal therapy, have helped people treat their tobacco addiction for centuries. Now, it’s emerging as an effective adjunct therapy in the west.
What Does the Research Say About Acupuncture and Smoking Cessation?
While there’s always more research to be done, what does exist is significant and suggests that acupuncture is an effective approach to smoking cessation. The research highlights include:
Additional studies are being organized to confirm these findings, showing that there is considerable interest in developing acupuncture into a primary treatment for tobacco addiction.
Regarding smoking cessation, it’s likely that acupuncture has positive physical and psychological effects on patients.
During treatment, there are acupuncture points designated for treating tobacco addiction. Many case studies report tasting tobacco differently following treatment. It’s possible that some people stop smoking after acupuncture because they can no longer stand the taste.
However, there are likely other mechanisms at work. Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the body into releasing endorphins and other “feel-good” compounds. These can alleviate the anxiety, “jitters,” irritability and cravings associated with nicotine withdrawal. This release of pain-reducing and mood-boosting chemicals has both physical and psychological benefits, so it’s possible that acupuncture attacks tobacco cravings on two levels.
Further, many patients find the acupuncture process to be relaxing, which supports a better mental state for dealing with addiction.
Herbal Therapy May Also Help with Smoking Cessation
While the evidence backing acupuncture is impressive for smoking cessation, it isn’t the only eastern modality that can help. Many eastern medicine practitioners also use herbal therapy with their patients.
Several herbs have been utilized for tobacco addiction over the centuries, but green tea is the top choice. Green tea releases a flood of amino acids and other micronutrients when consumed, and this nutritional boost may help offset the power of addiction-related cravings.
In fact, a 2010 study published in Science China, Life Science put this idea to the test by integrating green tea into cigarette filters and studying the effects. The research team found that more than half of the study’s participants reduced their cigarette consumption after two months of using the green tea cigarette filters.
It’s important, though, that a licensed practitioner prescribe the herbs and monitor the patient during treatment. The doctor will verify whether the herbs are being metabolized properly and if they are having the desired effect.
Eastern Medicine Has Proven Options for Smokers Who Want to Quit
Quitting tobacco is tough. For some people, it takes several therapies before settling on one (or several) that work. Western modalities have achieved some success in helping people combat nicotine addiction. The use of nicotine gums, patches and nasal sprays are effective in some, as are medications like bupropion and varenicline. However, not everyone achieves smoking cessation with these treatments alone.
For those patients, a combination of western and eastern therapies may be efficacious. Acupuncture and herbal therapy are considered extremely safe adjuncts that have proven effective in smoking cessation. This, combined with western modalities, may help with stubborn tobacco addiction.
An increasing number of practitioners are also noting that a blend of east and west may be more effective than either on their own. Some of these practitioners are licensed in both allopathic (western) and osteopathic medicine, so they can provide the best that western and eastern medicine has for people who want to quit smoking.