There are plenty of reasons for quitting smoking, and many smokers would like to quit. Because nicotine is so addictive, however, doing so often proves very difficult. Many smokers are able to stop for a while but go back to the habit later on. Lasting success comes from a deeper change in your whole health picture.

Pharmaceutical methods for quitting smoking can help but have their own negative side effects. Fortunately, there are alternative methods, including acupuncture, that can help with smoking cessation. Not only is acupuncture free of side effects, it provides additional health benefits to support you during nicotine withdrawal. You can create the changes you need to stop long-term.

If you are seeking to quit smoking in 2018, read on to learn how acupuncture can help you keep your New Years resolution.

Nicotine: A Complex Addiction

In addition to the physiological dependency produced by nicotine, habitually consuming tobacco creates ingrained psychological reliance. For example, many tobacco users report that smoking calms their nerves or helps them manage stressful situations. Most of these people will experience both physical and mental cravings while attempting to quit smoking.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT): Benefits and Downsides

There are quite a few over-the-counter (OTC) medications containing nicotine that people use to wean themselves off over time. These are called Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) aides and they include nicotine gum and patches, oral and nasal spray, and other forms. They all basically work the same way, reducing dependence by delivering smaller doses of nicotine than the person receives from smoking.

Studies show that using NRT increases a person’s likelihood of successfully quitting by 50-70%. Bupropion (Welbutrin), a powerful antidepressant, is often combined with NRT to increase the odds of success.

That said, NRT does have some significant downsides. Recidivism is high. Within a year, many people return to smoking, if they have not made supportive lifestyle changes to help them stop for good.

In addition, Buproprion has many side effects, including insomnia, dry mouth, dizziness, mood swings, and fatigue. Buproprion creates a strong dependency of its own and is difficult to cease. You may quit smoking and then need to wean off the antidepressant.

Acupuncture for Smoking Cessation

Whether you cannot tolerate NRT tools, or simply want to increase your chances of quitting for good, incorporating regular acupuncture treatments into your quitting regimen is proven to help. Research shows that acupuncture is one of the top alternative methods to aid in quitting smoking. Unlike NRT, acupuncture is free of any negative side effects and can help with other health conditions as well. Benefits of using acupuncture while quitting smoking include:

  • Reduced cravings, irritability, mood swings, & anxiety
  • Managing stress levels
  • Natural body detoxification to aid withdrawal
  • Improved sleep & energy levels
  • Increased endorphin production for emotional balance
  • Long-term wellness support to help you quit smoking for good

Acupuncture for Quitting Smoking: The Treatment Process

Five Element acupuncture is a comprehensive approach. If you are coming in with the goal of smoking cessation, we look at your whole health picture — body, mind, spirit — to give you the best chance on every front for positive and lasting results. This is always more effective than simply looking at one problem in isolation. 

Besides the nicotine dependency, smokers may have emotional and social patterns that can be hard to shift. Many smokers also face respiratory, cardiovascular, and other health issues by the time they are ready to quit. By taking a holistic approach, Five Element acupuncture can help address the bigger picture of smoking-related health issues.

Quitting smoking and changing health habits is a partnership between client and practitioner. Success depends on the client having a firm commitment to stop smoking, setting goals, and having a program in place. Acupuncture is often part of a multidisciplinary approach to quitting smoking and may be used in conjunction with hypnotherapy and other natural methods. I like to start treatment before the person has stopped smoking, but I ask that the client set a date by which they intend to completely quit, and begin to taper off prior to that date. 

During the process of quitting smoking, we will use specific protocols and methods that can target the issues that arise with withdrawal — cravings, irritability, mood swings, anxiety. This includes ear acupressure. Tiny seeds that are taped over acupressure points. The client can self-treat between visits by pressing these points.

Chinese herbal medicine may be used for added support, to address emotional symptoms, anxiety, mood swings. Herbs can help the body detox during withdrawal. They can provide the extra boost that some people need to successfully quit smoking.

Finding the Right Balance for You

Quitting smoking is no easy task, but it is an important one. Every smoker is different. Variants like how long one has been smoking and at what frequency and dosage mean that there is no one-size-fits-all regimen. At Inner Works Acupuncture, we enter into smoking cessation treatments with this in mind. We can recommend a unique plan that incorporates a combination of methods that work for you. We are here to help you succeed and heal your body from the inside out. In the words of one client:

“I decided to quit smoking last summer. I had some medical issues that made this important to do. I talked to lots of people, did a lot of research about the best methods for quitting smoking, and finally decided on acupuncture and hypnotherapy. I started Five Element acupuncture about a month before I quit and I immediately saw a difference in how I felt. I slept better and slept more than I had ever slept in my life. When I finally quit smoking, I had only one difficult week. I felt strong, I felt healthy and I didn’t feel any physical or emotional withdrawal symptoms. This was a very different experience than when I had previously tried to quit smoking, and my body fell apart. That time, I got sick and stayed sick for almost five months. This time, I was healthy the whole time I was quitting. I attribute that directly to the acupuncture. I have continued the acupuncture through my first year of quitting and I don’t think I could have quit successfully without it.” – Portland, Oregon

The good news is that you don’t have to live with an addiction like nicotine or rely on medications. Contact Inner Works Acupuncture in Portland today at (503) 227-2127 to schedule an appointment with senior practitioner Elizabeth Zenger, Ph.D., L.Ac.