Quit Smoking with Acupuncture

People who seek out acupuncture for smoking cessation are usually highly motivated to quit smoking. They may have attempted to quit previously without success, but now feel that they are ready. Their reasons for wanting to stop smoking are varied. Some may have developed health problems from smoking, such as shortness of breath, a chronic cough or an increased frequency of colds and flu; others may not be experiencing adverse health consequences, but want to prevent them from developing and improve their health. Some decide to stop smoking when a loved one develops a smoking-related illness such as emphysema or lung cancer. The diseases associated with smoking are widely known. Many no longer want the expense and dependency of tobacco or they feel a social pressure not to smoke. Ultimately, one has to want to quit smoking for him or herself and not for anyone else. It just won't work. They have to be self-motivated. Every person who chooses acupuncture to quit smoking has a strong desire to quit now, rather than putting it off indefinitely.

What Does the Treatment Involve?

The acupuncture program for smoking cessation at San Francisco Natural Medicine consists of five visits. Before your first appointment, you are sent an extensive questionnaire that gathers information about your smoking history and health background. The form assists in identifying the behaviors, habits and triggers that lead to smoking. Some are social smokers, some smoke for pleasure, some smoke alone or for emotional reasons or when stressed. Nicotine is a powerful mood-altering chemical that can be sedating or stimulating, depending on the individual. A few examples of triggers for smoking are:
  • Smoking when on the phone
  • Smoking when angry, upset, sad or lonely
  • Smoking when drinking coffee or alcohol
At the first appointment, your questionnaire is reviewed and discussed, and a physical exam including blood pressure, lung exam, and methods from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) such as taking the pulse and observing the tongue are employed. The purpose of this interview is to determine the Chinese medical diagnosis for you and the individualized treatment you will receive. Taking into account each person's unique smoking habits and physical and emotional make-up, every patient's acupuncture treatment is tailor-made and designed for him or her. No two people are treated exactly the same. At this session, you learn to identify your particular triggers for smoking and how to avoid them. Acupuncture can reduce the cravings and lessen the withdrawal symptoms associated you’re your efforts to quit smoking. Since the first month of quitting is probably the most difficult, the acupuncture program can ease you through this time. The first appointment is geared toward preparing you to become a nonsmoker; it does not include an acupuncture treatment. The next four sessions are acupuncture treatments to help you stop smoking. Up to the night before the first acupuncture treatment, you may smoke your last cigarette ever. From that point on, you will be a nonsmoker. The four acupuncture treatments for your quit smoking program are spaced out over three to four weeks, usually two treatments the first week, and then based on your individual needs. The treatments focus on any physical or emotional withdrawal symptoms that may arise, and also aid in relaxation. Of course, if you are having difficulty quitting, the program may be modified to fit your needs.

Does It Just Involve the Ear or Are Other Points Involved?

There are no "magic" acupuncture points for smoking cessation. Each patient is custom-treated according to his or her specific and unique diagnosis. Usually a combination of body acupuncture points and points on the ear are used. After the needles are inserted, you will relax for about 30 minutes.

Are Any Other Techniques Used Between Sessions?

Often you are prescribed herbs or supplements to control cravings or withdrawal symptoms. Exercise is encouraged and dietary recommendations are given (foods to avoid and foods to be included during the withdrawal phase). Sometimes a small metal pellet is tacked onto a specific point on the ear to reduce cravings.


How Does It Compare to Other Methods?

Because the acupuncture smoking termination program is individualized, it is often successful for those who have been unable to stop smoking through other methods. Often, our patients may have tried Nicorette gum, the nicotine patch or some type of organized program. If the individual sticks with it, the acupuncture quitting program can lead to permanent cessation.

How Much Does the Program Cost?

The total cost of the program is $599.00, which includes the initial consultation and four acupuncture treatments. The herbs, which are prescribed on an individual basis, range in cost from $6.50 to $20.00 each.Our acupuncture program to help you quit smoking will only be effective if you meet us halfway. Acupuncture will not "do it" for you. You need to have a genuine desire to quit smoking. It's very important to enlist the support of friends and family. Everyone will respond to acupuncture and quitting smoking differently. Some may sail through the process with little or no problems, while others may have a harder time with withdrawal. Be assured that acupuncture can reduce the stress and difficulty of quitting smoking, and can aid you in your decision to quit smoking.We support you in your efforts to begin a healthy and smoke-free life!


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formerly: SOMA Acupuncture & Natural Health Clinic
Carl Hangee-Bauer, ND, LAc
Erika Horowitz, ND • Natalie Metz, ND
Jacqueline Blakely, ND, LAc • Nafysa Parpia, ND • Stephen Meeneghan, ND, LAc
1615 20th St • San Francisco CA 94107 • 415-643-6600

Naturopathic Medicine • Acupuncture • Herbal Medicine • Supplements
Nutrition • Women's Health • Bioidentical Hormones
Smoking Cessation • IV Nutrient Therapy • Detoxification

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