Sunday, January 4, 2009

Quit Smoking with Acupuncture

A frequent question I hear is, "Can acupuncture really help a person quit smoking?" The answer is a qualified "yes". If a person is expecting a miracle with one treatment to make all craving and discomfort go away, I'd say that's not a realistic expectation.

Having said that, I'd like you to consider it from another viewpoint. First, Decide to quit smoking. Without a clear, committed goal, no method will work. If you're quitting because you think you should, or because your spouse wants you to, or for any other reason, you will probably fail.

Why? You really don't want to quit!

I see this all the time. Patients come in who have tried everything without success. Perhaps a part of it is that they are ambivalent about quitting.

If you decide to go on a vacation, you're clear about that. Then it's just a matter of details; when, where, how long, etc... You know you're going on vacation and you surmount any obstacles that may come up. If on the road to your destination there is a detour, you take another route. You don't go home. If you have some additional hotel charges, you don't go home. You may not like the inconveniences, but you deal with them. So you have a craving or a cigarette. Fine. Just get back on track.

If you're clear about the value of not smoking, you make a commitment. The next question is, "What will support my choice and reduce the discomfort of the transition?"

Framed that way, many options are available and acupuncture is an excellent one. The purpose of the acupuncture treatment is to minimize cravings, soothe anxiety and reduce withdrawal symptoms. It can be very effective. Click here to find an National Board Certified Acupuncturist in your area.

However, as a practitioner who is not invested in any one method, I say explore what works for you. Also, I don't come from a "holier than thou" position on this. I started smoking when I was 12 years old. What worked for me was the ST COOY method. No, it's not the patron saint of shy people. It stands for "Scare The Crap Out Of You" method. When I was 16 years old, I woke up coughing up blood. That got my attention. I stopped then and there. I highly recommend it, but you can't know when it will happen for you. Grace is fickle. So barring any divine intervention, consider my suggestions.

Also, don't hit the "snooze" button when the ST COOY alarm goes off. Sudden chest pains, a chronic cough, getting winded going up (or down!) steps. Pay attention.

Below is a list of items that can support your choice to be a non-smoker. I tell my patients to do at least 2 of them in conjunction with their acupuncture treatments. This provides added support and security.

You will need to develop new patterns and habits. The definition of insanity is "doing the same thing and expecting different results." You will need to consciously rewire your world. It's like getting a new puppy. Now you have to put up a gate so they don't go upstairs. You put newspaper on the floor so they don't soil the carpet. You get into the rhythm of walks and feedings and playtime. Plan for your new life.

Experiment with these suggestions:

Desire to quit is the most important factor in success. Being smoke free is the single most important thing you can do for health. Find your reason to quit. Be clear about it. Write it down and carry it with you. Read it as reinforcement of your positive new habit when you have cravings. For example, “I choose to be healthy so that I may see my children grow up.”

Identify your triggers. For example, smoking after meals or while driving, etc. Plan alternate activities for these high risk moments. Keep in mind that cravings for tobacco fade within a few minutes. Keeping cigarettes in the glove compartment and thinking you won't reach for them is not a good strategy. Put chewing gum in the glove compartment instead.

Call the Ohio Tobacco Quit Line. 1-800-784-8669. They provide free telephone counseling and support. They recommend nicotine replacement as a first line treatment. You are free to use it or not. Other states may have their own similar programs

Bach Flower Essences. Available at health food stores. These gentle remedies help with stress and underlying emotional states that are at the root of addictions. Rescue Remedy is a good general essence for stress. These 38 remedies require a self assessment to determine which ones are best for you. Info is available at health food stores and online at Get the ones that fit your needs and use them daily. The Rescue Remedy lozenges are especially useful in that they provide oral gratification while soothing nerves.

Stay Hydrated. We are over 70% water. The best way to do this is to drink Kangen Water. To quote to Dr. Hiromi Shinya from page 159 of his book "The Enzyme Factor", Kangen Water is "the best drinking water because of its incomparable powers of hydration, detoxification and anti-oxidation." Detoxification is important to rid your cells of build up nicotine and the 4,000 chemicals that are in cigarettes. Anti-oxidation is what protects cells from damage.

Be invested in the goal, not methods. Give treatments a fair try. With acupuncture, that may be 5 to 10 treatments. With oral remedies, 10 weeks is a fair trial. If you look for all or none results you'll be disappointed. I think in terms of percentages.

Maybe the acupuncture treatment reduces your cravings by 50%, the Bach Flowers might help 20%, Kangen Water may help 20% and then just a little counseling from the Tobacco Quit line may be the final 10% that gets you through to the smoke free life that you deserve.

I once had a patient who was a 2 pack per day smoker. Within a few treatments he was down to 1 or 2 cigarettes per day. Yet, he felt like a failure because he still smoked a little. I told him, if he was one of my pain patients and they were in severe pain when they came in and they were down to mild discomfort, they would think the treatment was miraculous. So he quit the treatments since they were only 90% effective!

Moral of the story: Be realistic. Experiment. Pay attention. Do what works. Give it time. Pray to ST COOY.

Be well.

Disclaimer: The above information is for educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for conventional medical advice or treatment. Consult your doctor.