Why acupuncture may be the best option for people trying to quit smoking

Quitting smoking may be challenging because of the addictive nicotine content in tobaccos, but it can be made easier with natural therapies like acupuncture. A study published in the journal Chest found that acupuncture safely and effectively helps people quit tobacco smoking. This alternative therapy, which is a form of traditional Chinese medicine, is also as effective as nicotine replacement therapy in this aspect.

A team of Chinese researchers aimed to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture, auricular acupressure, and nicotine replacement therapy on quitting tobacco smoking in the Chinese population. Acupuncture involves inserting very fine needles through the skin at certain points on the body, while auricular acupressure involves applying pressure using the hands or a special tool on specific points on the ear. Nicotine replacement therapy involves taking nicotine in the form of gum, patches, sprays, inhalers, or lozenges. The participants received their assigned therapy for a total of eight weeks, with follow-up at 16 weeks.

In conducting the study, the team recruited a total of 300 participants and randomly divided them into three groups: an acupuncture group, an auricular point pressing or auricular acupressure group, and a nicotine replacement therapy. Out of the 300 participants, only 195 continued receiving the therapies until the end. At 24 weeks, the abstinence rate in both the acupuncture group and the nicotine replacement therapy group was 44 percent. The auricular acupressure group only had an abstinence rate of 30 percent, which was the lowest among the three.

When the researchers measured the average time to relapse, they found that the acupuncture group’s average relapse time was 44 days, 41 days in the nicotine replacement therapy group, and 29.5 days in the auricular acupressure group. In addition, the team assessed the groups’ nicotine dependence and withdrawal scores and found that those in the acupuncture group had the lowest scores.

From these findings, the Chinese research team concludes that acupuncture may be used as a safe and effective therapy in helping people quit tobacco smoking. According to an article in Health.ClevelandClinic.org, the beneficial effects of acupuncture on tobacco cessation can be amplified by combining it with other therapies, such as herbal medicine and hypnotherapy.

The effects of quitting smoking

The moment you stop smoking, your body starts to recover. Here are the benefits you will experience when you stop smoking after:

  • One hour: After 20 minutes without a cigarette, your heart rate will drop and return to normal, as well as your blood pressure. Then, your blood circulation may start to improve.
  • 12 hours: Twelve hours after the last cigarette is smoked, the body starts to get rid of the unwanted carbon monoxide from the cigarettes. When carbon monoxide levels go back to normal, the oxygen levels in the body will start to increase.
  • One day: At this point, your risk of heart attack starts to decrease. Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease, blood pressure, and blood clots – all of which are detrimental to the heart and blood vessels.
  • One month: After a month, your lungs start to health and your lung function starts to improve. Your also athletic endurance improves.
  • One year: By this time, your lungs have significantly healed themselves. Your risk of developing coronary heart disease have also decreased by half and will continue to drop after your one-year mark.

Every year of not smoking reduces your risks of diseases and improves overall health. No matter how challenging quitting smoking is, the benefits are worth it. (Related: Reverse damage from smoking just by quitting: The body has a remarkable ability to heal itself.)

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