So you have decided you want to stop smoking. Galvanised by great determination and, perhaps a fear of the health risks associated with cigarette smoking, you are now ready. At this point, a salute to all who have successfully quit this habit is well in order, as it is rarely an easy endeavour, but it most certainly is possible.
Cigarette smoke contains a deadly mix of more than 7,000 chemicals; hundreds are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer. Cigarette smoke can cause serious health problems and death. Fortunately, people who stop smoking greatly reduce their risk for disease and premature death.
Increases the risk of strokes by two to four times.
Reduces circulation by narrowing the blood vessels, thus increasing risk of obstruction of the large arteries in the arms and legs that can cause a range of problems from pain to tissue loss.
Lung diseases (e.g., emphysema, bronchitis). It is the main cause of lung cancer.
Cancers of the cervix, bladder, pancreas, kidney, stomach, lip, oral cavity, pharynx, oesophagus, larynx/voice box.
Infertility, preterm delivery, stillbirth.
Lowers bone density in post-menopausal women.
Why is it difficult to stop?
Nicotine is the psychoactive drug in tobacco products that produces dependence. Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine or alcohol. Quitting smoking is difficult and may require multiple attempts. Users often relapse because of nicotine withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and increased appetite.
How does acupuncture help you quit?
Acupuncture is used to reduce the cravings to smoke cigarettes and lessens the withdrawal symptoms associated with smoking cessation. Acupuncture helps to detoxify the body of nicotine and to eliminate the symptoms of withdrawal, as it is highly effective in:
Calming and relaxing the mind
Enhancing the ability to concentrate
Alleviating feelings of depression
Suppressing the appetite and diminishing food cravings.
Many persons lose the urge to smoke as they notice a change in the taste of smoke and come to think of it as unpleasant and distasteful, finding it difficult to finish an entire cigarette. Often after the first week of treatment, most people are willing to reduce their cigarette consumption by 50 per cent. Most people notice greater energy and find they can breathe easier.
During the procedure, extremely thin needles are inserted into specific acupuncture points on the hand, wrist and ear. Mild electrical stimulation is passed through some of these needles to augment their effectiveness. After treatment, press beads or magnets are taped to the ear and remain in place for a few days to maintain the stimulation.
At least three weeks of treatment, twice weekly, is usually recommended. The total number will vary depending on the individual's daily cigarette use.
Dr Tracey-Ann Brown is an oriental medicine practitioner, herbalist and doctor of acupuncture; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.