Acupuncture for Smoking Cessation

Cigarette addiction is one of the hardest substance addictions to treat. Most cigarette smokers wanting to quit have already tried numerous amounts of counseling, gum and patches to make them kick the habit without success.  One of the methods that have been practiced for thousands of years for substance addiction is acupuncture. One particular style of acupuncture that has over 50 years of European medical research is ear or auricular acupuncture that has been proven the best style of acupuncture that helps smokers get over their nicotine addiction.

What is Auricular Acupuncture?

Auricular acupuncture also called, auricular therapy, auriculomedicine or ear acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine form of acupuncture that has been updated in Lyon, France applying basic modern medical science (specifically from neurology/ neurophysiology) and principles of traditional acupuncture. Auricular acupuncture entails the insertion of ultra thin, single use, sterile needles into the specific parts of the ear. Sometimes laser is included in the treatment. Usually, certain points in the ear are needled along with specific body points that can be treated with needles or laser. This type of acupuncture is a completely pain-free procedure and frequently leaves the patient very comfortable and relaxed.

How does it work?

Unlike traditional Chinese medicine, auricular acupuncture’s potency has been thoroughly researched. When the energy pathways (meridians) on the ear are stimulated with laser or needle, the body produces and releases natural pain killing biochemicals known as endorphins. These chemicals are released through the pituitary gland and some parts of the central nervous system. Ear acupuncture has been observed to affect the cerebrospinal fluid and the blood serum amounts of endorphins.

Cigarette smokers have naturally higher levels of endorphin than non smokers. If this is the case, then how does auricular acupuncture, which enhances endorphin levels work? One explanation is that when a smoker decides to quit the endorphin levels in his central nervous system drops considerably and so need to be maintained. Contrary to popular belief, auricular acupuncture does not boost the body’s endorphin levels; the fact is this therapy regulates the endorphin’s rate of release. In this manner, patients who have stopped smoking need help with their withdrawal which auricular acupuncture provides leading to a total control of their nicotine cravings.

Besides helping out with the withdrawal symptoms and helping regulate the production of endorphins, auricular acupuncture provides the patient with a sense of relaxation and calmness. Of course these benefits come about due to the release of endorphins producing pain relieving effects. The painkilling effect of auricular acupuncture happens because of the reflex stimulation inside the prefrontal cortex, somatosensory, thalamus and periaqueductal gray.  This stimulation of the parts of the brain enables the cravings, stress, restlessness, anxiety or withdrawal to be successfully addressed.

What does Auricular Acupuncture Treatment Involve?

If you are considering getting auricular acupuncture, you need to seek treatment from a licensed acupuncturist who preferably specializes in this type of acupuncture.  Practitioners of auricular acupuncture usually have undergone training on certain clinics in the United States, Europe and certain clinics in the world.

Auricular acupuncturists will start treatment by performing a full assessment of the patient’s condition using specific diagnostic tools and procedures. A certain type of assessment that acupuncturists may use is the observing of laterality dysfunction. Laterality means a state of harmonious interaction exists between the brain’s two cerebral hemispheres. Often a patient’s left brain hemisphere is the dominant part of the brain (since a majority of patients are right handed).  Some of the causes for laterality disorders can involve emotional or physical trauma that has happened in the patients’ life.

More often than not, people with productivity problems (confusion in coordination and concentration difficulties), behavioral issues (stress, anxiety depression) or learning disorders (like dyslexia, ADHD, ADD, etc.) are indications that they suffer from laterality dysfunction.  Researchers have discovered that people who are addicted to nicotine or other substances are attempting to balance themselves.  The researchers have also found out that auricular acupuncture is the fastest and most effective method to resolve those disorders.

A person having laterality dysfunction can make his acupuncture therapy a bit less effective since it is seen as a blockage to therapy that needs to be identified and then resolved first.

The acupuncturist will usually utilize a polarized or filter object along with a procedure called Vascular Autonomic Signal or VAS to know the points on the ear to be needled. The VAS is used by the acupuncturist to easily identify the acupuncture points on the ear that needs to be pricked.

Patient Participation

Acupuncture therapy for the treatment of nicotine addiction is much more effective when the patient is really involved. The entire treatment plan may include a minimum of two sessions to about 6 sessions. Sometimes a booster or follow-up session may be required.

Patients may be required prior to the initial treatment to not attempt to smoke for just a few hours since they may be anxious enough that they will smoke before therapy to calm their anxiety. During the course of the treatment, the acupuncturist may advice the patient to avoid stressful environments or situations or social settings wherein they normally would smoke. This may be the hardest part of the treatment and if the will power and determination to cure his smoking addiction is strong enough, the patient will be able to pull this through.

Conclusion

If you think acupuncture therapy is the best way to cure your nicotine addiction, then your acupuncturist will most probably apply auricular acupuncture for you since this is the most highly effective acupuncture treatment for those wanting to stop smoking. The presumptions that say acupuncture is an uncomfortable and painful method are dispelled when patients find that they attain a deep sense of relaxation that enhances their determination and confidence to quit.

 

Scott Paglia is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist in Bellingham, WA and provides master level pulse diagnosis, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture in Whatcom County, WA.

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