I see many people suffering from physical and mental pain when they can’t quit smoking easily even though they obviously know that smoking is harmful to both themselves and the people around them. For long-time smokers, quitting becomes even more difficult without help from other people because nicotine addiction physiologically affects your body regardless your will.
In Eastern medicine we usually use ear acupuncture to help people quit. To the acupuncturist, the ear is a miniature representation of our body, and every organ in the body is reflected on the ears. We insert needles into the areas of the ear pertaining to the organs affected by smoking, such as the throat, bronchi, lungs, liver, endocrine glands, brain, etc. Later, we attach tiny needle-like tacks or small seeds to those points using a bandage which can remain on the ear for more than a week, thus prolonging the period of effectiveness. This makes auricular acupuncture most effective. Acupuncture on the body itself is actually better than ear acupuncture, but the needles have to be removed within the treatment session creating a greater economic burden for people who need to be treated often. The ideal is to use both ear and body acupuncture at the same time.
Acupuncture doesn’t directly cause a person to quit smoking. Instead, it helps indirectly by increasing the body’s effectiveness in nicotine detoxification, reducing withdrawal symptoms, and tonifying the overall energy of the body. One of the main reasons many people fail to quit smoking is due to the accompanying withdrawal symptoms, which may be experienced physically and/or mentally in the form of headaches, heart palpitations, vomiting, insomnia, indigestion, fatigue, low energy, itchiness, phlegm, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, irritability, sensitivity, vexation, etc. Weight gain in particular is the result of snacking often because one feels an emptiness in the body and mind. If a person starts smoking again without fully getting through the withdrawal period, these withdrawal symptoms disappear, which may further encourage the failure to quit.
While a person is quitting smoking, acupuncture effectively promotes detoxification when needles are inserted on the acupoints pertaining to the lungs, liver, and kidneys, and simultaneously on the special point for detoxification. We also need to promote detoxification during this period by drinking clean water often, exercising, and making ourselves sweat. Through repetitive needle stimulation, acupuncture may make smoking taste worse and/or decrease the desire to smoke, signifying that the brain is starting to recover the body’s memory of before one ever started smoking.
Smoking often starts from a feeling of emptiness or of something lacking. If you are happy enough, you may not need to smoke and it may not be able to addict you any more even if you do smoke. If you can maintain the belief that it is possible for you to quit, exercise regularly along with treatment, and have the courage to change your lifestyle, success will surely be yours. As the cool autumn approaches, let’s do this together. It’s a good time to quit smoking.