Although smoking is at its lowest level since 1974, many people are still struggling to ditch the habit. Smoking is an incredibly strong addiction that impacts both the mind and body.
Finding the strength to quit doesn’t just require sheer willpower; it also relies on emotional willingness. There are various forms of support out there for people who are trying to quit smoking, but there are also some unconventional methods available for those of you who haven’t found success just yet. One of these unconvential methods is acupuncture.
Here’s how to use acupuncture for quitting smoking.
Acupuncture for Quitting Smoking
‘Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine. Fine needles are inserted at certain sites in the body for therapeutic or preventive purposes’, as stated by the NHS.
A lot of people go through acupuncture for a number of reasons. However, recent studies revealed that it’s also effective in treating cigarette addiction.
Believe it or not, acupuncture is a tried and tested method of combating addiction and curbing cigarette cravings. It is a complementary therapy which is most effective when used alongside normal treatment.
In a recent study, the ‘Alternative Smoking Cessation Aids: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trial‘, researchers sourced data from 14 different studies to compare the effects of alternative therapy techniques in people who were in the process of quitting smoking. Around 823 patients were examined after receiving acupuncture and the results showed that this type of therapy may have been responsible for helping patients quit smoking.
See Also: 16 Essential Tips for Quitting Smoking
While the world of science hasn’t definitively confirmed the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating cigarette addiction, research does prove that it has helped people.
It reduces cravings
The ‘Tim Mee’ is a small area on the inside part of the arm, just above the wrist. This is one of the many areas that can help relieve cravings. Trained acupuncturists use needles in this area to change the way cigarettes taste, aiding people in their journey towards quitting cigarettes.
In addition to that, an ear massage can help curb cravings, too. Ear massage releases endorphins which work as natural painkillers. It stimulates the points in your ears that can help balance the body’s ‘Qi’. It can also stimulate the nervous system, which can help to suppress the need for cigarettes.
You can do ear massages in between acupuncture sessions at home. You don’t even need the help of an expert. All you have to do is to position your thumb on the widest area of the ears. Using circular movements, move on the smaller crevices on the front section of your ears.
Although ear massage and acupuncture aim to suppress cravings, they can induce relaxation, too. Studies have shown that acupuncture encourages the brain to produce endorphins- also known as ‘feel good’ hormones.
The link with anxiety
New research has found that anxiety disorders and smoking are directly linked. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Centre for Tobacco Research found that anxiety disorders were very common among patients with cigarette addictions.
In fact, more than one-third of them reported having experienced at least one anxiety diagnosis in their lifetime. Of 1,504 participants that took part in the research, 455 of reported experiencing a panic attack in the past, 199 confessed to experiencing social anxiety, and 99 had a general anxiety disorder.
Acupuncture can help to reduce anxiety and aid an addict in his goal of quitting smoking through the following ways:
- It stimulates the production of endogenous opioids that impact the autonomic nervous system. Since stress can activate the sympathetic nervous system, acupuncture can help by stimulating the opposing parasympathetic nervous system and initiating relaxation.
- It targets areas of the brain which can reduce sensitivity, pain and stress. It also induces relaxation and shuts down the ‘analytical’ brain which often triggers anxiety and stress.
- Acupuncture regulates the level of neurotransmitters and hormones, such as dopamine, serotonin, noradrenaline, GABA, neuropeptide Y and ACTH. This changes the brain’s mood chemistry and can help to combat negative states.
Can this alone solve addiction?
Although using acupuncture for quitting smoking is helpful, it won’t be enough to kick the habit of smoking. Nicotine addiction is strong. To be effective, you need to practice it alongside other treatments which target a different aspect of addiction.
Acupuncture is particularly successful in reducing cravings but it cannot change habits. This is why you need to use it with other alternative methods, such as hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy tackles the mind and focuses on conditioning the mind into saying ‘no’ to cigarettes.
While acupuncture addresses mostly the physical elements of addiction, hypnotherapy takes a different approach by healing our mental state. Together, they combat addiction holistically.