Acupuncture: an effective method against smoking.


Smoking is a kind of social behavior with detrimental repercussions in one's health as well as in economy. The decrease in levels of nicotine in the organism during the first hours of abstinence from smoking is accompanied by symptoms of withdrawal such as anxiety, terror, feeling of heartbeat, perspiration, migraine, lack of concentration, stress, insomnia and a bigger appetite. These symptoms become more evident after a 12-hour abstinence from smoking and only last for a few days.
The contemporary pharmaceutical approach related to the abstinence from smoking, suggests the administration of nicotine in the form of gum or nicotine patches, while new pharmaceutics are expected to be available in the Greek market. Other therapeutic approaches involve psychological support, techniques of relaxation and change of social habits.

Above all though, what is required is the patient's active will and participation since he wishes to quit this disastrous habit. In accordance with the international medical bibliography the long-lasting favorable results of all interventions do not exceed 20-25%. 

The first observations concerning the favorable efficacy of Acupuncture in the treatment of addictions were carried out in the 60's at Hong-Kong. The fact that in 1980 high levels of endorphins were discovered in the serum of addictive persons who were already subjected to Acupuncture as a treatment sparked off the application of therapeutic protocols in organized detoxification centres abroad. At the same time, studies on guinea pigs which had been addicted to drugs reinforced the point of view that Acupuncture can act effectively repressing the symptoms of withdrawal.

> The procedure of the therapy

The treatment usually begins after 12 hours had passed since the last inhalation of tobacco, which is exactly when the first symptoms of withdrawal manifest themselves. Some of the points chosen are found in the face such as PE20(the upper edge of the rhinolabial groove), Extra 1(the point between the brows) and farther points which either belong to the meridians of the organs suffering (P7, K7,Per 6) or have a powerful anxiolytic and mitigatory action (PE4, KA20). At the same time, points are found and acupunctured in the lobe of the ear (Senmen, Stomach, Pneumonia). The disposable needles which are also sterilized remain to the point of acupuncture for about 20-30 minutes and are then removed. The placement of semipermanent needles in the lobe of the ear is a similar technique. These needles have a very thin point not longer than 1.5 thousandth and instead of having a handle they have a small winding in the shape of a bulge which prevents the needle from sticking further. Once the point of acupuncture is well sterilized, the semi-permanent needle is inserted and covered with a small anti-allergic patch. It may remain there from 7 to 10 days.

>	Duration of the therapy-Results

During the first week, sessions take place daily or every two days a week. In addition, the patient is asked to describe in every visit of his the symptoms which appeared the day before so that the therapeutic protocol is changed accordingly. On the second and third week, sessions take place every three days.

In a review of papers concerning the effectiveness of acupuncture in the abstinence from smoking (Lewith G.T. The treatment of tobacco addiction. Comp.Ther. Med. 1995; 142-145), the author concludes that acupuncture is as effective in dealing with symptoms of withdrawal as the exogenous administration of nicotine is.

However, the long-lasting results of acupuncture are gradually decreasing since many people start smoking after 3 months had passed, mostly as an impulsive social habit or under the pressure of stressful situations. According to all studies that have been published until today in the international bibliography, it seems that the high percentages of abstinence from smoking during the first three months (60-70%) do not exceed 30-40% a year later. This is because acupuncture is impossible to avert social behaviors which eventually lead to the recurrence of the detrimental habit. 

For this reason, both the patient's active participation and strong will are determinant factors for success. The smoker who wishes to quit smoking has at his disposal a variety of effective techniques. Acupuncture is a safe method with the same percentages of success as the others. It could be applied either as an exclusive additional approach for those who face difficulties at least during the first days of abstinence from smoking, or it could be combined with medication or other techniques (exogenous intake of nicotine, psychotherapy etc.). 

Article extracted from the web magazine "" 26-01-2006



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