Toni Bennalley is a licensed acupuncturist with Banner Estrella Medical Center.
Question: I heard acupuncture could help me quit smoking. Is that true? How does it work?
Answer: Acupuncture is a form of medicine that has been around for centuries and is used throughout the world to cure many ailments, including smoking. The use of a micro-system called auriculotherapy, where we use the ear as a system of healing, is fairly new technique but extensive work in France and New York has been proven to help people detox from many things, including cigarettes.
A stop smoking treatment begins with the placement of five points per ear, with other pressure points tailored to your specific crutch. If, for instance, you are anxious and use cigarettes as a way to relax, we would use different points from the ones we would use on a person whom gets angry without cigarettes. Some people are aware of their addiction to the nicotine and some are afraid of gaining weight, so we have points specific for each of these concerns.
The needles used in acupuncture are very fine (about the diameter of 2 hairs). Once we insert them into the proper points in your ears and body, you relax for around 30 to 40 minutes, listening to soothing music or napping if you wish.
Afterwards, we typically send you home with acu-beads which can be placed over the penetration sites of the needles. These beads, which are placed under band-aids about the size of a pen cap, allow you to re-activate the points on your own between treatments using acupressure.
With smoking cessation, I usually recommend 4 to 10 treatments. Each person is different so it is hard to say you if will be able to stop after one session or not, although I have had a few that were able to quit cold turkey with no repercussions. I have many clients who, using a few treatments of acupuncture only, have been smoke free for years.