With the new year, come New Year’s resolutions, and several people have been asking me about using Chinese medicine to help them to quit smoking. Acupuncture has been used successfully to overcome addictions in this country for decades.
The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) was formed in 1988 and promotes the use of a specific ear acupuncture protocol to help with the anxiety and stress associated with hardcore drug addiction withdrawal. This protocol has been applied to smoking cessation. Four or five points are selected on the ear and stimulated either by hand or with electrical stimulation.
I also add an extra point on the lung channel called Tim Mee, an experience point for addictions. Additionally, I needle Master Tung points on each thigh called Four Horses. Master Tung believed that this was the reaction area for the liver and the lung. These points are used for many lung related issues. The acupuncture treatments target the lungs and trigger the release of natural chemicals in the body (endorphins), which reduce a smoker’s cravings, ease withdrawal symptoms and induce relaxation.
But smoking is a very complex addiction, and although acupuncture can help overcome the physical addiction, the patient must still address the social and psychological addiction. To be successful, the person must be aware of when they smoke and why. They must be motivated by a strong desire to quit for themselves. Not because someone else is pushing them to seek treatment.
In addition to the acupuncture treatments, I encourage my patients to stay hydrated, refrain from drinking coffee, cut back on sugar and have a plan for what they will do during a craving.
I recommend three treatments the first week (it takes 48 hours for nicotine to be flushed out of the body). Then an individualized treatment program may be suggested for a few weeks. They say it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. During this time, acupuncture points will be selected based on the individual’s constitution with an emphasis on relaxation, detoxifying the liver and nourishing the lungs.
There are a couple of herbal products specifically formulated to aid smoking withdrawal. One product is West Lake Tea (Smoking Quitter Support). Ingredients are Green tea, lotus seed, ginseng leaf, Chinese asparagus and licorice root. The tea helps eliminate nicotine from the body through the urine and the stool. Some people find that the tea makes the taste of a cigarette unpleasant. I ask that the patient substitute this tea for coffee normally drunk during the day.
The other product is called Miraculous Stop Smoking Perfume. This product is unique in that it is not ingested, but rather inhaled for 10-20 minutes a day for three days and then as needed for a week. It is used to stop the desire for cigarettes, aid in the detoxification of nicotine and to increase lung qi.
If you are having trouble quitting smoking on your own, or with other methods, it may be worth your while to try a new approach.
About the Author
Joyce Marley is a licensed acupuncturist located in New Hartford, NY. She helps patients quit smoking through acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine. Patients have found these treatments to be helpful with withdrawal symptoms and to be smoke free.