Can Acupuncture Help You Quit Smoking?

acupuncture to quit smoking
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Acupuncture is sometimes used as a natural remedy among people looking to quit smoking. Long practiced in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture involves inserting needles at specific points on the body in order to stimulate the flow of energy (or "chi"). While there is conflicting evidence of acupuncture's effectiveness for smoking cessation, proponents suggest that acupuncture may offer natural relief of certain nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

How Might Acupuncture Help You Quit Smoking?

Acupuncture is said to alleviate symptoms often experienced in the attempt to quit smoking. For instance, proponents claim that acupuncture can ease cravings and reduce irritability (possible due to the therapy's supposed ability to induce relaxation). Some advocates suggest that acupuncture may also promote detoxification in those trying to quit smoking.

The Research on Acupuncture and Smoking

There's no consistent evidence that acupuncture (or acupressure) is effective for helping people quit smoking, according to a research review published in 2006. For the review, investigators analyzed 24 previously published studies on the use of acupuncture and related treatments for smoking cessation. Although they found no evidence that acupuncture is superior to other anti-smoking techniques, the investigators caution that no "firm conclusions can be drawn" (due to the poor design of many of the reviewed studies).

In a more recent study (published in 2008), researchers assigned 80 smokers to six sessions of real acupuncture or sham acupuncture. Results revealed that real acupuncture was no more effective than sham acupuncture in reducing nicotine withdrawal symptoms, depression, or anxiety.

Using Acupuncture to Quit Smoking

Not just a top risk factor for illnesses like cancer and heart disease, smoking has been found to wreak havoc on sleep and weight.

It's no wonder that many smokers turn to alternative therapies such as acupuncture. And while it can't currently be recommended as a standard treatment for smokers attempting to quit (due to a lack of scientific support for acupuncture's benefits in smoking cessation), it may help alleviate symptoms in some people.

f you smoke, it's crucial to talk to your doctor about how to go about quitting. In addition to offering several immediate benefits (such as improved circulation, healthier blood pressure, and easier breathing), quitting smoking may reduce your risk for several major diseases (including heart disease and cancer).

Other natural approaches (such as hypnosis) may also offer some benefit to people looking to quit smoking. It's important to consult your physician before you begin using any type of alternative therapy for smoking cessation. Avoiding or delaying standard care can have serious consequences.

Sources:

Hyun MK, Lee MS, Kang K, Choi SM. "Body Acupuncture for Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms: A Randomized Placebo-controlled Trial." Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008 Jul 4.

National Institutes of Health. "Quitting Smoking: MedlinePlus." September 2010.

White AR, Rampes H, Campbell JL. "Acupuncture and related interventions for smoking cessation." Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Jan 25;(1):CD000009.

Wu TP, Chen FP, Liu JY, Lin MH, Hwang SJ. "A randomized controlled clinical trial of auricular acupuncture in smoking cessation." J Chin Med Assoc. 2007 Aug;70(8):331-8.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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