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Acupuncture for Smoking Cessation

By Susan Mosley, LAc, Dipl. C.H.

What about acupuncture for smoking cessation?
Don’t think you are a weak person for not being able to shake the cigarette habit. I have taken care of heroin addicts who said stopping narcotics is immensely easier than quitting tobacco, simply because it is legal, still socially acceptable in many groups, and the product is highly physically addictive.
I use electrotherapy stimulation in combination with the standardized NADA (National Association of Detox Acupuncture) ear treatments. NADA protocols have been used extensively in inpatient and outpatient addiction and recovery programs. Ear points are used for stress relief, to stop cravings, and to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Arm and leg acupuncture is added as needed for cough, digestive upsets, insomnia, or other problems. You will need 3 treatments the first week, at least 2 sessions the 2nd week, and thereafter if you are still tapering down. If you are especially dedicated and your schedule permits, daily treatments for 2 weeks are ideal. Many people feel the smoke has a foul taste after the first few treatments.
Set a target date for quitting, and then schedule your stop smoking series for that day. Ceremoniously get rid of all your cigarettes, matches, lighters, and ashtrays, and refer to yourself as nonsmoker from that day forward. The treatments will also help keep your hunger under control, so you’ll be less likely to gain weight. I also give you tape-on ear pellets to help you throughout the process.
Most people usually see about a 75% reduction in the amount of cigarettes smoked. If you can quit completely that 1st day, you will be over the physical addiction entirely after a week. Withdrawal symptoms may last as long as 2-3 weeks. However, the harder part is breaking the HABIT of smoking. You have to find something else do with your hands, after you eat, when you are on the phone, or when you are drinking alcohol or coffee. Your success rate will be greater if you also add another technique for stop smoking like hypnosis, or nicotine patches or gum.
What else can I do to stop?
1.        Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to flush out toxins and keep cravings at bay. If you don’t like plain water, add watermelon, cucumber, or citrus slices.
2.        Don’t rely on sugar and artificial sweeteners to get you through the nicotine jitters. They cause blood sugar swings, as well as making it more likely you will gain weight. As your blood sugar drops, so does your energy, then you will really will be dying for a nicotine pick me up. Use stevia for sweetening instead. It is diabetic safe, non-caloric, with no carbohydrates.
3.        Avoid coffee and alcohol. Both beverages are emotionally associated with cigarettes, dehydrate you, and also cause cravings. Try Yerba Mate tea to boost your low energy instead of caffeine. This tea is good for your immune system, suppresses your appetite, and you can go ‘cold turkey’ off caffeine without headaches or lethargy. 
4.        Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly crunchy and flavorful snacks like carrots, celery, pickles, apples, and raisins.
5.        Change your habits: if you normally smoke while watching TV, change chairs or rearrange your furniture.
6.        Stay away from other smokers. If you normally take your break at work with your smoking friends, you must find another habit: climb stairs, read a novel, call your mother!
7.        Keep your hands and mouth busy. File your nails, squeeze a stress ball, learn to crochet, chew on a toothpick or gum. If you have a craving, clean your stinky, smoky house for 5 minutes.
8.        Find a support person, either someone who is stopping with you, or an ex-smoker to help talk you through your rough spells.
9.        Make it inconvenient to smoke. Keep your cigarette paraphernalia in the car; smoke only outside your home. Or even roll your own!
10.     Take your herbs. I have traditional Chinese herbal pills and teas available, which reduce the irritability of withdrawal, help you sleep, and restore lung function.
11.     Pay yourself for not smoking. Every time you can hold off a craving, put the cost of one cigarette in your piggy bank. You’ll quickly see how much money you are saving. You can use the cash to reward yourself with something extravagant.
12.     Your cravings will fade after only a couple of minutes, believe it or not. If you can distract yourself for just those 2 minutes, you will have won: brush your teeth, take a short walk, massage your hands or scalp, or a stretching break. Remember that boredom is a sign that you need to get busy! 4 big triggers for smoking are Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, and Tiredness (HALT).
13.     As of March 2005, Medicare now pays for smoking cessation counseling. Call 1-800-MEDICARE for more info.
14.     Call the Tennessee Smoking Cessation Help Line’s toll free number 1-877-448-7848 for more support. 
15.     Memorial Health Place at Hamilton Place Mall has a meeting of Nicotine Anonymous every Tuesday at 7pm. There you can find a ‘buddy’ to help you through your bad times. Call 423-893-9765 for more information.

For more information call:
Susan Mosley, LAC, Dipl. C.H.
Four Seasons Wellness
6245 Vance Road, Suite B
Chattanooga TN 37421

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