Try acupuncture to quit smoking

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—Millions of dollars are spent each year on smoking cessation treatments, including the nicotine patch and hypnosis. But one smoking cessation treatment being used more often may be the ticket to a smoke-free future. Studies suggest that acupuncture may aid in the fight against smoking addiction by relaxing the body and reducing cravings.

“By using an acupuncture needle to stimulate certain points on the body, pain-modulating endorphins are released,” says Sher Demeter, LAc, associate dean for the Minnesota College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Bloomington, Minn. “This is often compared to experiencing a runner’s high, which can also cause a mood-lifting effect. Not only can acupuncture be used to treat problems associated with chronic pain, headaches, digestion, insomnia, irritability and nervousness, but it also has been used as a smoking cessation tool.”

Demeter adds that acupuncture may help a smoker relax and feel less anxious, reduce the craving for nicotine, decrease the frequency of withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, and help eliminate toxins in the body.

“A person should commit between six and eight weeks of treatment while visiting two to three times a week. It can take about a month for your body to clear its system of toxins, so it is important to re-evaluate after a few weeks,” says Demeter.

Because smoking is an addiction, quitting is not as simple as getting a few acupuncture treatments and then never craving another cigarette. “The success rate is similar to other smoking cessation treatments and programs; for the treatment to be effective, you have to make positive lifestyle changes and maintain those changes by using your own free will,” says Demeter. “You cannot quit smoking with just acupuncture, but it can help reduce the nicotine cravings by reducing the physiological and emotional stress associated with quitting smoking.”

For additional resources about smoking cessation, visit, a Web site focusing on natural approaches to health and wellness hosted by Northwestern Health Sciences University.

The Natural News Service is a public information program provided by Northwestern Health Sciences University. The University offers an array of choices in natural health care education including chiropractic, Oriental medicine, acupuncture, therapeutic massage and integrative health and wellness.

from the July 5-10, 2007, issue

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