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Published on October 16, 2015

woman breaking cigarette symbolizing quitting

Acupuncture Can Help You Be a Quitter

Since 1975 the American Cancer Society has challenged people to stop using tobacco on the third Thursday of November. The idea was born out of an event in Randolph, Mass., in 1970. Arthur Mallaney, a high school guidance counselor, asked students and the community to give up cigarettes for one day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund.

Since the start of the smokeout challenge, the percentage of tobacco users has declined, but it is still a significant number today. One in five U.S. adults smoke cigarettes and 15 million Americans smoke tobacco in cigars or pipes. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women in the U.S. In addition to lung cancer, smoking is linked to cancers of larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), mouth, sinuses, esophagus, bladder, pancreas, cervix, ovary, colon, kidney, stomach and some types of leukemia. Smoking is responsible for one in five deaths in the U.S. Today, 8.6 million people in the U.S. live with serious illnesses caused by smoking.

Research shows smokers who have support such as: books, telephone hotline, groups, medications, counseling, or friends and family are more likely to quit. Utilizing more than two support mechanisms further increases success.

How Acupuncture Helps

Group acupuncture is another option that offers both the benefits of acupuncture, plus the support of a group. Avera Integrative Medicine offers group acupuncture therapy sessions for smoking cessation that meets two times per week for a total of six weeks, allowing opportunity for six to 12 acupuncture treatments.

Most patients for smoking cessation require six treatments and some require up to 12. The acupuncture treatment is based on a well-established ear acupuncture protocol for addiction called the NADA protocol. It requires needling at seven specific points in each ear. Once the needles are placed, they are left in for 30 minutes then removed. It is beneficial to enter the therapy sessions with a personal motivation to quit smoking. Putting the needles in your ear does not make you want to quit smoking. The acupuncture treatments will help ease the transition off of tobacco; working to curb cravings, decrease anxiety, or subdue other nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as headache, insomnia, irritability and food cravings.

We recommend participants set their quit date to occur somewhere between the second and third acupuncture treatment. We also encourage participants to read “The Easy Way to Quit Smoking,” by Alan Carr. During the process of quitting, patients can benefit from other integrative therapies that ease stress, anxiety, irritability, headache and insomnia, for example, aromatherapy or mind-body movement. Multiple layers of support are helpful in the journey to a healthier, smoke-free lifestyle.

The Benefits

Take the Great American Smokeout Challenge and become a quitter.

  • 20 minutes after your last cigarette your heart rate and pulse decrease.
  • At eight hours, your blood level of carbon monoxide normalizes.
  • In 24 hours, your heart attack risk decreases.
  • In two – three months, you will have improved blood circulation and lung function with less infections.
  • By your five-year anniversary of smoking cessation, your risk of dying from a heart attack is cut in half and at 10 years your risk of dying from lung cancer drops to nearly the same rate as a non-smoker!

Live Better. Live Balanced. Avera.

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