More and More Smokers Are Turning to Acupuncture to Help Stop their Smoking Addiction

Currently available statistics indicate that over 70% of American adult smokers want to stop smoking. These are tens of millions of people we are talking about and a lot of them just know how difficult it is to kick this unhealthy habit. Nicotine is a powerful addictive substance and studies actually show that it is as addictive as alcohol, cocaine, or heroin.

Normally smokers will try to stop smoking more than two times before they finally achieve success. Conventional modes to halt the habit more often than not are inadequate and so smokers look for other approaches that are outside the scope of conventional modalities.
One of these non-conventional approaches is acupuncture, a powerful form of Chinese healing technique that has the proven capacity to stop many kinds of substance and behavioral addiction. Acupuncture’s effectiveness is proven by the fact that it is a court mandated therapy for drug addicts due to its ability to treat anxiety, irritability, concentration difficulties and other symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and its ability to control cravings.

Cigarette Smoking – One of the Hardest Addictions to Overcome

There are over 50 million Americans who smoke. Data shared by the World Health Organization reveal that throughout the world, in people who are 18 years old and above, about 33% are smokers.

There are so many reasons to stop smoking. A single cigarette stick can contain more than 40 carcinogenic compounds and about 3,900 chemicals. Imagine inhaling just one stick inside your body. Among the very harmful chemicals that you put in your body when you smoke include DDT, arsenic, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, tar, and nicotine. The CDC has stated that smoking tobacco is related to an increase in flu and colds frequency, chronic cough, shortness of breath, high blood pressure, lung cancer, and emphysema and has accounted for over 400,000 premature deaths each year.

A lot of smokers know the risk that smoking entails and really want to stop but they find the addiction too powerful to overcome. What’s more, there is growing social pressure for them not to smoke in public places. More often than not, smokers who smoke in public places are treated in a hostile manner by people nearby who are affected by their smoking

Breaking Your Smoking Habit with Acupuncture in Bellingham

Permanent or long term smoking cessation can be achieved with acupuncture and this has been confirmed by a growing number of permanent ex-smokers who got through their addiction with this powerful Chinese healing art. Acupuncture for the treatment of smoking addiction aims in restoring energy balance in your body and addresses all symptoms to provide you with optimal health.

Addressing nicotine addiction and other forms of substance and behavior addiction are part of the training of all qualified acupuncturists based on the teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncturists study the addiction from all viewpoints including its emotional, mental, and physical dimensions. Some acupuncturists adopt a technique known as auricular acupuncture in which acupuncture needles are stuck into five specific acupoints on the ear. This protocol for detoxification is endorsed by the NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association).

And so acupuncture assists in detoxification and relaxation. It also targets the symptoms of restlessness, irritability, cravings, and jitters making it much easier to overcome the addiction.

A study to observe the potency of acupuncture in decreasing the patient’s urge to smoke was done in Oslo, Norway. Five years after the initial treatment, the researchers saw that the taste of the participants for cigarettes changed and that the cigarettes tasted even worse than before the subjects started the study.

The needles used by acupuncturists for treating conditions are extremely thin. In smoking addiction treatment, these needles are inserted into specific places in the body and ears. Small pellets are taped to acupoints on the ear to sustain the effect of the treatment till the next treatment session. If the person starts to have a cigarette craving, all he/she has to do is to press gently on the pellets and his/her will be composed once more and the cravings dispelled.

Just to be clear, not all people may find acupuncture helpful for the condition they suffer from nor is acupuncture is a cure-all for any type of ailment or disease. What acupuncture is, is it facilitates the healing process which makes the treatment of addictions, including smoking highly successful and permanent.

So if you are really serious about stopping smoking for good, then you need to find a qualified practitioner who will help you kick the habit and give you full control of your life once more.

Acupuncture Therapy – How It Works

Based on the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the withdrawal symptoms of nicotine addiction are caused by an obstruction in the function of the Liver organ system. Your addiction to nicotine causes the Liver to get used to the stimulation of the nicotine flowing in your bloodstream. This stimulation replaces the natural stimulation that your own body used to provide. The Liver receives less energy from this stimulation which then causes it to poorly function.

The level of nicotine in your bloodstream falls in between each time you smoke. And since the Liver gets its energy/stimulation from the nicotine, the low nicotine level causes energy deficiency in the Liver causing it to malfunction. The result is the manifestation of symptoms that can include depression, anxiety, agitation, continued craving for smoking, and sleeplessness.

These symptoms typically are eased when you smoke a cigarette again and every time you do, the amount of nicotine in your body is boosted once more providing the energy the Liver needs to work properly that in turn silences temporarily the symptoms.

Acupuncturists treat this type of addiction by restoring the natural source of stimulation for the Liver. This either cures or chronically curbs your withdrawal symptoms since your Liver is once more being stimulated naturally and properly without the need to smoke. During the initial stages of the treatment the stimulation will wear off and so multiple sessions may be needed before the effects become permanent. The number of treatment before permanent results are obtained will depend on how well the patient responds to the treatment.

One other benefit that acupuncture can give a patient is that it tends to change the patient’s way of experiencing smoking. There are patients who may now find the taste of the cigarette or the smoke unpleasant and nauseous. This makes it easy for them to quit their bad habit completely.

How Many Treatments Do You Need?

The frequency, number and length of treatment sessions will vary. Normally a session may take five to 30 minutes to finish. The patient needs to receive treatment once or twice a week. Some patients may feel a substantial improvement with just the first treatment; for chronic or severe addictions, several sessions may be required.

Patients commonly need 4-6 initial therapies in the first few weeks after which are followed by once-a-month treatments spanning four to six months.

Acupuncture Neutralizes Cravings, but Habits are Oftentimes Hard to Break

Smokers have to deal with their unhealthy habit besides the physical cravings of their addiction. It is usually the habit of smoking that is more difficult to control than the physical addiction.

If you have emotional challenges that you need to confront and If smoking is your way of coping, then stopping smoking can make you feel vulnerable, helpless, and insecure. If you have incorporated smoking deep into your daily ritual, then not smoking can make your day seem incomplete. Quitting smoking is truly a challenging and a daunting task to achieve.

If you are willing to stop smoking completely, we advise that you utilize all the support systems available to you. Exercise, participate in a support group, get moral support from friends and family, and indulge in smoke-free activities. Smoking cessation requires social, emotional, and support. Be bold and overcome.

More and More People Are Turning to Acupuncture for the Treatment of Sciatica

With the rise of more and more individuals suffering from sciatica, many have opted for different types of treatments. Sciatica treatment using acupuncture is a novel way to fight this condition and many are now discovering its powerful ability to relieve nerve pain.

One of the great things about acupuncture treatment for sciatica in Portland is that is an all-natural type of treatment. Acupuncture does not utilize surgery or any type of western pharmaceutical products. This treatment merely involves the use of extremely thin needles inserted into various points in the body to help improve the flow of vital energy or Chi flow throughout the body. The restoration of Chi flow has helped in the alleviation of pain for a lot of individuals. This has been proven by sciatica patients who have availed themselves of acupuncture before.

Sciatica is a type of lower back pain that radiates from the top of the buttocks down to the legs. It is a condition resulting from muscle spasms near the sciatic nerve that can be caused by aging or lack of exercise. Sometimes a sensation of numbness can be felt by sufferers. A herniated disk and other types of degenerative disease can also cause sciatica. Happily, acupuncture has been proven to be a very effective treatment for sciatica that leads to the immediate relief of spasms.

Sciatica treatment using acupuncture has other benefits besides the relief of spasm and pain. Acupuncture can also help boost energy that can push people to become more active, and it can provide flexibility and relax tired and tensed muscles, as well. It’s important to note that unlike pain medications, the effects of acupuncture for the treatment of sciatica are often not felt immediately. The effects may be different from person to person.

Sciatica is caused by a pressure bearing on the sciatic nerve and the pain may be generated by muscle spasms through which the nerve is connected directly. The pain may also be due to the inflammation of the sciatic nerve itself. Another cause for the pain may come from a specific degenerative joint disease that may impact the sciatic nerve.

If a degenerative disease is the cause for your sciatica, however, then acupuncture will not work for you. The treatment may provide you with temporal relief from your pain but will not cure the problem completely. When a displaced spinal disc begins to press on the sciatic nerve, the muscles tense up, causing pain. One cannot expect acupuncture to correct the misalignment of the disc. Yes, it can relieve the inflammation and muscle spasms but it can’t change the health and the position of the disc.

Nevertheless, a lot of people see acupuncture as still one of the safest and most natural forms of treatment possible for sciatica. The treatment never uses any type of conventional drug that comes with negative side effects.

If You Want A Sure-Fire Way of Treating Your PMS Symptoms, Acupuncture is the Treatment You Need To Consider

If you want a complete resolution of your premenstrual syndrome or PMS symptoms such as acne eruptions around or during menses, hives, headaches, and mood swings acupuncture is the treatment you should consider. Acupuncturists most of the time resolve these symptoms within one or two cycles of menstruation.

How does acupuncture treat PMS?

Using a combination of Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners are able to treat PMS. In accomplishing this, these practitioners and acupuncturists need to first do a comprehensive medical examination of the patient and identify the symptoms that need not be limited to the patient’s menstrual cycle. The evaluation may even encompass the other organ systems of the patient and not only her reproductive system and organs. When this is done, the acupuncturist will be able to detect a pattern diagnosis that is unique to each patient. The symptoms are grouped. Oftentimes the diagnosing patterns of associated symptoms are classified based on the organs systems of the body they affect. Usually, the acupuncturist might associate shoulder and neck tension, digestive problems, and headaches on the temples with PMS symptoms and other menstrual conditions.

PMS sufferers are usually diagnosed by acupuncturists and TCM practitioners in Cleveland with problems that involve the Liver System. To give you a little background, the movement of vital energy or Qi or Chi through the organs and throughout the body is the responsibility of the Liver System; without the Liver System, the muscles cannot move, the brain cannot think, the digestive organs cannot digest food and so on and so forth. The body tightens up when we get tensed or stressed. This causes the QI to stop or move slowly through the muscle tissues and organs. Conditions such as muscle pain, menstrual cramps, headaches and other symptoms arise when Qi stops moving.

Energy pathways called meridians are the vehicles in which qi circulates throughout the body. They function in the same way as veins, arteries, and capillaries although these organs circulate blood all over the body instead of Qi. The meridians originate at the toes and fingers, and then pass through the stomach. Each meridian is named after the organs they pass through: therefore, we have the Liver Channel or Liver Meridian that starts at the big toe, goes up the inner leg and pass through the reproductive organs. It then passes the sides of the chest (through the breast and liver) and then to the eyes and head. PMS sufferers manifest symptoms that usually are the result of stress causing them to tense up which leads to liver Qi stagnation. According to TCM, the blood is stored in the liver and conveys this blood to the uterus. A stagnant Liver Qi prior to menstruation compounds the symptoms because the uterus does not receive adequate blood. The stagnant Qi causes depression, irritability or anger or can make the sufferer cry a lot. The whole meridian can be affected resulting in menstrual cramping, and breast tenderness and swelling.

The good news is that acupuncture is able to restore the normal and free flow of Qi. The acupuncturist will insert filiform needles in the site of the Qi blockage. Herbal remedies that have been used for over 2,000 years also help in addressing PMS problems. One case study of how well acupuncture responds well to PMS symptoms involve a woman suffering from mood swings related to PMS so severe that they affected her family life and work. She described her symptoms as like a half a month of great feeling and then followed by the next two weeks of feeling of anger, depression and crying spells. During the second half of the month, she couldn’t sleep well, woke up frequently during sleep and suffered from cramping and breast tenderness prior to and after her menstruation.

The acupuncturist initially started her on weekly acupuncture treatments and gave her a customized Chinese herbal formula in the form of a tea to drink. Her sleep improved after the first week and her menstrual cramping decreased after a couple of visits. She reestablished her normal sleep patterns after four visits and during this time it was four days before her menstruation. From to time, she experienced breast tenderness but her emotions were now all normal. She had another period after her fifth visit and had no breast tenderness during that time. For one day though, she experienced some cramping. After her sixth treatment, her acupuncturist lessened her sessions to biweekly affairs and after her seventh treatment, her mood swings, breast tenderness, and cramping were gone for good. This is a typical case of how fast PMS symptoms dissipate with acupuncture treatment.

How Acupuncture Helps Treat Various Kinds of Addiction

Dopamine

A neurotransmitter whose purpose is to send signals between neurons (nerve cells), dopamine plays an important part in sending information from the substantia nigra to the corpus striatum in order to promote purposeful, smooth muscle activity. This chemical is a precursor to or the substance from which noradrenaline (norepinephrine) and adrenaline (epinephrine) is formed. Depending on the kind of protein it combines with, dopamine can either inhibit or excite nerve cells.

When the level of dopamine in a person’s frontal lobe is high the person experiences pleasure and less pain. So, a person with naturally high dopamine levels may be able to tolerate pain well. A high level of dopamine can come from good genes, a good personality and/or a healthy lifestyle, which means that if a person eats a healthy diet, is physically active, and knows how to properly manage stress, it leads to high dopamine levels in his/her body. People with high levels of dopamine will, for example, tend to tolerate back problems or arthritis better than those with relatively low levels of it.

Dopamine is always associated with feelings of alertness, purposeful behavior and reward. It is often related to the brain’s “pleasure” system causing us to experience a feeling of enjoyment and a strong desire to do or keep on doing certain activities. It is dopamine that helps us to experience the feeling of pleasure whenever we use certain stimuli or drugs, indulge in sex, or eat our favorite foods. However, there is also a downside to high dopamine levels in the body. if we have high amounts of dopamine in our limbic system, it tends to cause memory and emotional problems; if it’s inadequate in the cerebral cortex, it may lead to a personality of extreme distrust in people making the person highly susceptible to episodes of paranoia which can ruin his/her social life..

Alcohol Addiction

One of the reasons why a lot of people consume alcohol is because it can boost the levels of dopamine in the brain, specifically, in the mesolimbic system. Alcohol disrupts the ability of the body to break down dopamine which causes the levels to remain high in the brain. When a chronic drinker all of a sudden stops drinking alcohol, the dopamine levels in her/his fall dramatically resulting in an inability to derive pleasure from normally pleasurable activities such as social interactions, eating, and exercise and the feeling of dysphoria (sensation of discomfort and unpleasantness) sets in instead.

The drop of dopamine levels related to alcohol withdrawal is a factor that causes strong cravings for alcohol by alcoholics. Not all people who drink alcohol become alcoholics. But people who very high dopamine releases when they drink alcohol (or even, coffee) are likely to become addicted to it more so when they are not into social gatherings or if they are very smart.

Acupuncture Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

For the treatment of alcohol addiction, acupuncturists usually focus on the acupoint Ht 7. This point helps prevent the levels of dopamine to subside in one part of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens during ethanol withdrawal. It can also help release dopamine when the patient is facing an ethanol challenge. When the Ht 7 is needled, the body is stimulated resulting in the normalization of the brain’s dopamine levels even if the patient had been drinking for a long time. Acupuncture sessions twice or thrice a week is recommended for people trying to quit. The treatments can help normalize the amounts of dopamine in their body so that they neither feel agitated nor depressed.

Smoking Addiction

Nicotine is an addictive substance. This is because it affects the central dopaminergic channels in a major way. The substance can induce feelings of reward and pleasure. Nicotine lowers appetite, boosts alertness, and activates the body’s central nervous system. Both men and women are prone to nicotine addiction but women smokers are more compelled to continue the habit because of fear of gaining weight when they stop. Nicotine addiction is the strongest type of chemical addiction. Even if the smoker cuts his/her smoking by 50%, it may lead to severe withdrawal symptoms like cravings for cigarettes, anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, anger, hunger, and sleep disorders. There are medications that can lessen dopamine reuptake to help smokers stop smoking. But, unfortunately, these medicines come with very harmful side effects and are especially dangerous for people who are currently taking meds that boost epinephrine and norepinephrine levels, for those who are just starting to abstain from alcohol, and for people who have uncontrolled hypertension, eating disorders, or epilepsy.

People who have been smoking for a decade or more are likely to have enzymes that have adapted to their habit. So, when they suddenly decide to quit smoking, they feel extremely miserable. Body and auricular acupuncture can help restore balance in the body. It also helps release “feel-good” hormones including endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine and helps lower stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones are rebalanced through the stimulation of acupuncture needles. This is much better than just stimulating or inhibiting the metabolism of some of these hormones.

One notable case involving acupuncture treatment for smoking addiction involved a female who had been smoking a pack of cigarettes every day for 30 years. When she decided to quit smoking after her friend died of lung cancer and who also had smoked for decades, she selected acupuncture as her treatment of choice. She was treated for six weeks. During those times, she neither gained weight nor experienced any withdrawal symptoms. Needless to say, she was cured of her addiction. Another example of acupuncture’s ability to cure smoking addiction dealt with another female smoker who completed ear acupuncture treatment for 3 months; she also was cured of her addiction. Her daughter was very surprised of her cure since her mother had smoked heavily for more than two decades. Of course, there have been cases where the treatment was unsuccessful but this was because the patient never was really prepared to quit or because he/she was too busy going to his/her scheduled acupuncture treatments.

Morphine Addiction

Again, addiction to morphine is caused by the drugs ability to release dopamine in the person’s bloodstream. The worst part of morphine addiction is the severe withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the drug. In this regard, acupuncture can be an ideal treatment since it can very much lessen the symptoms of morphine withdrawal. A study done in Korea in 2005, dealt with the ability of acupuncture to alter the behavior and levels of dopamine in rats injected with morphine. The results were published in the Neuroscience Letter magazine. They showed that the needling of the HT7 acupoint, led to a substantial lowering of the rats’ behavioral hyperactivity due to a systemic morphine challenge and the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. These all meant that acupuncture had a therapeutic effect on morphine addiction by helping reduce the body’s sensitivity to morphine and by normalizing the levels of dopamine in the body.

Dr. Vickery is a licensed acupuncturist in Tarzana, CA., and the founder and clinical director of Vickery Health and Wellness.