Home Health A – ZA Disadvantages of Acupuncture for Smoking: A Critical Review

Disadvantages of Acupuncture for Smoking: A Critical Review

by @dmin@
Disadvantages of Acupuncture for Smoking: A Critical Review

Introduction

Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death and disease in the world, affecting millions of people and their families. Cessation of smoking isn’t simple, and numerous smokers face challenges in conquering the physical and psychological dependence on nicotine. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, to help smokers quit. Acupuncture is an ancient healing art that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body, to stimulate the flow of energy and balance the Yin and Yang forces. Acupuncture is claimed to reduce cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and stress, and to enhance mood and well-being, among other benefits. However, how effective is acupuncture for smoking cessation, and what are the disadvantages or limitations of this therapy? In this article, we will critically examine the evidence and arguments for and against acupuncture as a treatment for smoking cessation.

Limited Scientific Evidence

One of the main drawbacks of acupuncture for smoking cessation is the lack of robust scientific evidence to support its efficacy. Although there have been many studies on acupuncture for smoking cessation, most of them have been of low quality, small sample size, short duration, or inconsistent methodology. Therefore, the results of these studies are not conclusive, reliable, or generalizable.

Some of the challenges in conducting controlled trials for acupuncture are:

  • The difficulty of designing a valid and reliable placebo or sham control: A placebo or sham control is a fake or inactive treatment that is used to compare with the real treatment, eliminate the placebo effect, and test the specific effects of the treatment. However, it is hard to create a convincing and blinding placebo or sham control for acupuncture, as the patients or the acupuncturists may be able to tell the difference between the real and the fake needles, or the real and the fake points. Some of the methods used to create a placebo or sham control for acupuncture include using non-penetrating needles, using needles at non-acupuncture points, or using other modalities, such as laser, pressure, or electrical stimulation. However, none of these methods are perfect, as they may still have some physiological or psychological effects, or they may not be sufficiently convincing or blinding to the patients or the acupuncturists.
  • Lack of standardization and consensus among acupuncturists and researchers: Acupuncture is a complex and variable intervention, which depends on many factors, such as the individual diagnosis, treatment plan, technique, and response of the patient. Some of the factors that may affect the acupuncture intervention and outcome include the number, location, depth, angle, manipulation, and duration of the needles, the frequency, and length of the sessions, the experience and style of the acupuncturist, the co-interventions, such as herbal medicine or moxibustion, and the patient characteristics, such as age, gender, health status, expectations, and beliefs. These factors make it difficult to standardize and compare the acupuncture intervention and outcome, and to determine the optimal dose and protocol of acupuncture for different conditions.
  • Influence of cultural and philosophical biases and expectations: Acupuncture is based on the traditional Chinese medical theory, which is holistic, dynamic, and qualitative, while biomedicine is based on the modern scientific method, which is reductionist, static, and quantitative. These two paradigms have different assumptions, concepts, languages, and criteria of validity and reliability, which may create conflicts and misunderstandings between acupuncturists and researchers, and between patients and practitioners. Moreover, the cultural and philosophical beliefs and expectations of the patients and the acupuncturists may also affect the perception and evaluation of the acupuncture treatment and outcome.

Because of these obstacles, there isn’t reliable, impartial proof indicating that acupuncture yields lasting advantages in helping individuals quit smoking for a period of six months or longer. However, there are also contrasting views on the reliability of the existing research. Some proponents of acupuncture argue that the conventional methods of research are not suitable or sufficient to capture the essence and complexity of acupuncture and that more qualitative and holistic approaches are needed to evaluate the effectiveness and mechanisms of acupuncture. Some opponents of acupuncture argue that the existing research is biased or flawed and that acupuncture is no better than placebo or sham, or conventional treatments, such as nicotine patches or gum.

Varied Individual Responses

Another drawback of acupuncture for smoking cessation is the varied individual responses that may occur. Acupuncture is not a one-size-fits-all therapy, but rather a personalized and holistic therapy, that takes into account the individual characteristics and needs of each patient. Therefore, the effectiveness of acupuncture may vary from person to person, depending on various factors.

The Individualized Nature of Acupuncture Responses

Acupuncture is based on the traditional Chinese medical theory, which views each person as a unique and dynamic entity, with a specific constitution, temperament, and pattern of imbalance. Acupuncture aims to restore the balance and harmony of the Qi, the vital energy or life force, in each person, by stimulating the acupuncture points that correspond to their affected meridians and organs. However, the Qi flow and the Yin and Yang balance are not the same for everyone and may change over time, due to internal and external influences. Therefore, the acupuncture response may differ for each person, and may not be predictable or consistent.

How the Effectiveness of Acupuncture May Vary from Person to Person

The effectiveness of acupuncture for smoking cessation may vary from person to person, depending on several factors, such as:

  • The severity and duration of the addiction: People who have been smoking for a long time, or who smoke a large amount of cigarettes, may have a stronger physical and psychological dependence on nicotine, and may experience more severe withdrawal symptoms and cravings, than people who have been smoking for a short time, or who smoke a small amount of cigarettes. Therefore, they may need more frequent and longer acupuncture sessions, or a combination of acupuncture and other therapies, to achieve the same results as people who have a milder addiction.
  • The motivation and readiness to quit: People who have a strong motivation and readiness to quit smoking, and who have a clear and realistic goal, may have a higher chance of success, than people who have a weak motivation and readiness to quit smoking, or who have a vague or unrealistic goal. Therefore, they may respond better to acupuncture and may be more compliant and cooperative with the treatment plan, than people who have a low motivation and readiness to quit smoking.
  • The expectations and beliefs about acupuncture: People who have positive expectations and beliefs about acupuncture, and who trust and respect the acupuncturist, may have a better response to acupuncture, than people who have negative expectations and beliefs about acupuncture, or who doubt or distrust the acupuncturist. Therefore, they may experience more benefits and satisfaction from acupuncture and may be more likely to continue and complete the treatment, than people who have a low or negative attitude towards acupuncture.

Factors Influencing the Success of Acupuncture for Smoking Cessation

Besides the individual factors mentioned above, there are also other factors that may influence the success of acupuncture for smoking cessation, such as:

  • The lifestyle and environmental factors: People who have a healthy and supportive lifestyle and environment, such as eating well, exercising regularly, sleeping well, managing stress, avoiding triggers, and having social support, may have a better chance of quitting smoking, than people who have an unhealthy and unsupportive lifestyle and environment, such as eating poorly, being sedentary, sleeping poorly, being stressed, being exposed to triggers, and lacking social support. Therefore, they may enhance the effects of acupuncture, and prevent relapse, by adopting positive lifestyle and environmental changes, while people who have a negative lifestyle and environment may undermine the effects of acupuncture, and increase the risk of relapse, by maintaining negative lifestyle and environmental habits.
  • The co-interventions and medications: People who use acupuncture as a complementary therapy, along with other interventions and medications, such as nicotine replacement therapy, behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy, or herbal medicine, may have a better outcome, than people who use acupuncture as a standalone therapy, or who use acupuncture with incompatible or contraindicated interventions and medications, such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, or beta-blockers. Therefore, they may increase the synergy and safety of both modalities, and improve the outcomes and satisfaction of the patients, by consulting and coordinating with their acupuncturist and their physician, and by following their instructions and recommendations, while people who use acupuncture without proper guidance or supervision may decrease the efficacy and safety of both modalities, and impair the outcomes and satisfaction of the patients, by self-medicating or self-treating, or by ignoring or disregarding their advice and suggestions.

Dependency on Practitioner Skill

A further drawback of acupuncture for smoking cessation is the dependency on practitioner skills. Acupuncture is not a simple or standardized procedure, but rather a complex and variable technique, that requires a high level of skill, knowledge, and experience, from the acupuncturist. Therefore, the effectiveness of acupuncture for smoking cessation may depend largely on the acupuncturist’s competence and performance and may vary from practitioner to practitioner.

The Importance of Practitioner Skill in Acupuncture

Practitioner skill is one of the most important factors in acupuncture, as it determines the quality and safety of the treatment. Practitioner skill involves the following aspects:

  • The education and training of the acupuncturist: The acupuncturist should have a minimum of three to four years of accredited education and training in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, and should have passed a national or state examination and certification. The acupuncturist should also follow a code of ethics and standards of practice, and participate in continuing education and professional development.
  • The diagnosis and treatment plan of the acupuncturist: The acupuncturist should have the ability to diagnose the condition of the Qi and the pattern of imbalance in the patient, using various methods, such as asking questions, observing signs, and palpating points. The acupuncturist should also have the ability to make a comprehensive and holistic treatment plan, which may include acupuncture and other modalities, such as herbal medicine, moxibustion, cupping, massage, diet, and exercise.
  • The technique and performance of the acupuncturist: The acupuncturist should have the skill to select the appropriate points and techniques to treat the patient, using thin, sterile, and disposable needles, which are inserted into specific acupuncture points on the body, at various depths and angles, and with various manipulations, such as twisting, lifting, or electrical stimulation. The acupuncturist should also have the skill to monitor and adjust the treatment according to the patient’s response and progress.

How the Effectiveness of Acupuncture for Smoking Cessation May Depend on the Acupuncturist’s Experience and Technique

The effectiveness of acupuncture for smoking cessation may depend on the acupuncturist’s experience and technique, as they may influence the following factors:

  • The stimulation and modulation of the Qi: The acupuncturist’s experience and technique may affect the stimulation and modulation of the Qi, which is the main mechanism of acupuncture. The acupuncturist should be able to stimulate the Qi at the right points, with the right amount, direction, and frequency, to achieve the desired effect. The acupuncturist should also be able to modulate the Qi, by increasing or decreasing, tonifying or dispersing, warming or cooling, or activating or sedating, the Qi, to restore the Alignment and concordance of Yin and Yang
  • The activation and regulation of the physiological systems: The acupuncturist’s experience and technique may affect the activation and regulation of the physiological systems, which are the secondary mechanisms of acupuncture. The acupuncturist should be able to activate the nervous system, the endocrine system, the immune system, and the gene expression, and to release various chemicals, such as endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and opioids, which have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and mood-enhancing effects. The acupuncturist should also be able to regulate the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is the main stress response system of the body, and to regulate the secretion of hormones, such as cortisol, adrenaline, and melatonin, which affect the metabolism, immunity, and sleep.
  • The reduction and prevention of the side effects and complications: The acupuncturist’s experience and technique may affect the reduction and prevention of the side effects and complications, which are the potential risks of acupuncture. The acupuncturist should be able to reduce the side effects, such as bruising, bleeding, soreness, or infection, by using proper hygiene and sanitation, and by applying pressure or ice to the punctured areas. The acupuncturist should also be able to prevent complications, such as nerve damage, organ puncture, or allergic reaction, by using sterile and disposable needles, and by avoiding sensitive or contraindicated areas.

Potential Inconsistencies in Treatment Outcomes Based on Practitioner Differences

Due to the dependency on practitioner skill, there may be potential inconsistencies in treatment outcomes based on practitioner differences, such as:

  • The variation in the diagnosis and treatment plan: Different acupuncturists may have different ways of diagnosing and treating the same patient, depending on their education, training, style, and preference. For example, some acupuncturists may use more or fewer needles, or different points or techniques, than others, to treat the same condition. Some acupuncturists may also use other modalities, such as herbal medicine or moxibustion, while others may not. These variations may affect the effectiveness and consistency of the treatment outcomes.
  • The variation in the technique and performance: Different acupuncturists may have different levels of skill and competence in performing the acupuncture technique, depending on their experience, practice, and feedback. For example, some acupuncturists may insert the needles more smoothly, deeply, or accurately, than others, or may manipulate the needles more gently, firmly, or frequently, than others, to stimulate the Qi. Some acupuncturists may also monitor and adjust the treatment more attentively, sensitively, or flexibly, than others, to suit the patient’s condition and response. These variations may affect the quality and safety of the treatment.

Therefore, it is important to find a qualified and licensed acupuncturist, who has the proper education, training, certification, and experience, and who can provide a personalized and effective treatment for smoking cessation.

Cost and Time Commitment

A final drawback of acupuncture for smoking cessation is the cost and time commitment that may be involved. Acupuncture is not a cheap or quick therapy, but rather a long-term and holistic therapy, that requires multiple sessions and follow-up care, to achieve and maintain the results. Therefore, the cost and time commitment may impact the accessibility and feasibility of acupuncture as a smoking cessation method.

The Financial Cost Associated with Acupuncture Sessions

The financial cost associated with acupuncture sessions may vary depending on the acupuncturist, the location, the length and frequency of the sessions, and the condition being treated. The average cost of an acupuncture session in the United States is between $60 and $120, but it can range from $20 to $200 or more. Some acupuncturists may offer discounts, packages, sliding scales, or free consultations, to make acupuncture more affordable and accessible. However, the total cost of acupuncture may still be high, especially if the patient needs multiple sessions, or a combination of acupuncture and other therapies, to quit smoking.

Acupuncture is covered by some health insurance plans, but not all. You should check with your insurance provider, and your acupuncturist, to see if acupuncture is covered, and what are the requirements, limitations, and co-payments. Some insurance plans may only cover acupuncture for certain conditions, such as chronic pain, or may only cover a limited number of sessions, or may require a referral from a physician. Some insurance plans may also have a network of preferred acupuncturists or may reimburse the patient for the cost of acupuncture, rather than paying the acupuncturist directly.

The Time Commitment Required for Multiple Acupuncture Sessions

The time commitment required for multiple acupuncture sessions may also vary depending on the patient’s condition, response, and goals. Generally, acute conditions may require more frequent but shorter sessions, while chronic conditions may require less frequent but longer sessions. The average frequency of acupuncture sessions is once or twice a week, for four to eight weeks, but it can vary from once a month to several times a week, for a few weeks to several months. The average length of an acupuncture session is 45 to 60 minutes, but it can range from 15 to 90 minutes or more. The total time commitment may also include the travel time, the waiting time, and the recovery time, associated with the acupuncture sessions.

The time commitment may also depend on the patient’s availability, schedule, and lifestyle. Some patients may have difficulty finding the time or the opportunity to attend the acupuncture sessions, due to their work, family, or personal obligations. Some patients may also have difficulty fitting the acupuncture sessions into their daily routine or may have to make some adjustments or sacrifices, such as taking time off work, arranging childcare, or changing their habits. Some patients may also have to deal with the social stigma or the lack of support, that may come with choosing acupuncture as a smoking cessation method.

How These Factors May Impact the Accessibility and Feasibility of Acupuncture as a Smoking Cessation Method

The cost and time commitment may impact the accessibility and feasibility of acupuncture as a smoking cessation method, by creating some barriers or challenges for the patients, such as:

  • The financial barrier: Some patients may not be able to afford the cost of acupuncture, may not have insurance coverage for acupuncture, or may have to pay a high co-payment or deductible for acupuncture. This may prevent them from seeking or continuing acupuncture or may force them to choose a cheaper or less effective alternative or to quit smoking without any assistance.
  • The time barrier: Some patients may not have the time or the opportunity to attend the acupuncture sessions, or may have to make some compromises or sacrifices to attend the acupuncture sessions. This may discourage them from starting or completing acupuncture or may cause them to miss or cancel some sessions, or reduce the frequency or duration of the sessions, which may affect the outcome and satisfaction of the treatment.
  • The psychological barrier: Some patients may not be motivated or ready to quit smoking, may not have a clear and realistic goal, or may not have positive expectations or beliefs about acupuncture. This may reduce their interest or willingness to try or stick with acupuncture or may affect their response and compliance to the treatment.

Lack of Regulation and Standardization

Another disadvantage of acupuncture for smoking cessation is the lack of regulation and standardization in this field. Acupuncture is not a regulated or standardized therapy, but rather a diverse and flexible therapy, that varies in terms of protocols, techniques, and approaches. Therefore, the lack of regulation and standardization may pose some challenges and affect the treatment outcomes.

The Lack of Standardized Protocols in Acupuncture

Acupuncture does not have a standardized protocol or guideline for smoking cessation or for any other condition. There is no consensus or agreement among acupuncturists and researchers on what is the best or optimal way to use acupuncture for smoking cessation, or for any other condition. There is no uniformity or consistency in terms of the number, location, depth, angle, manipulation, and duration of the needles, the frequency, and length of the sessions, the co-interventions, such as herbal medicine or moxibustion, and the outcome measures, such as the number of cigarettes smoked, the carbon monoxide level, or the nicotine dependence score. Therefore, the lack of standardized protocols may make it difficult to compare and evaluate the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for smoking cessation, or for any other condition.

The Challenges Posed by Variations in Acupuncture Techniques and Approaches

Acupuncture is not a simple or standardized procedure, but rather a complex and variable technique, that depends on the individual diagnosis, treatment plan, technique, and response of the patient. Acupuncture also varies in terms of the traditions, schools, styles, and preferences of the acupuncturist. There are different types of acupuncture, such as traditional Chinese acupuncture, Japanese acupuncture, Korean acupuncture, auricular acupuncture, or electroacupuncture, which are based on different theories, principles, and practices. There are also different approaches to acupuncture, such as the classical approach, the modern approach, the empirical approach, or the integrative approach, which are based on different sources, methods, and goals. Therefore, the variations in acupuncture techniques and approaches may create some challenges and uncertainties in terms of the quality and consistency of the treatment.

How the Absence of Uniformity May Affect Treatment Outcomes

The absence of uniformity in acupuncture may affect the treatment outcomes in various ways, such as:

  • The variation in the stimulation and modulation of the Qi: The stimulation and modulation of the Qi, which is the main mechanism of acupuncture, may vary depending on the type and approach of acupuncture, the skill and technique of the acupuncturist, and the response and condition of the patient. Therefore, the effect of acupuncture on the Qi may not be the same for everyone, and may not be predictable or consistent.
  • The variation in the activation and regulation of the physiological systems: The activation and regulation of the physiological systems, which are the secondary mechanisms of acupuncture, may also vary depending on the type and approach of acupuncture, the skill and technique of the acupuncturist, and the response and condition of the patient. Therefore, the effect of acupuncture on the physiological systems may not be the same for everyone, and may not be measurable or comparable.
  • The variation in the reduction and prevention of the side effects and complications: The reduction and prevention of the side effects and complications, which are the potential risks of acupuncture, may also vary depending on the type and approach of acupuncture, the skill and technique of the acupuncturist, and the response and condition of the patient. Therefore, the safety of acupuncture may not be the same for everyone, and may not be guaranteed or assured.

Therefore, it is important to be aware of the lack of regulation and standardization in acupuncture and to be cautious and informed when choosing and using acupuncture as a smoking cessation method.

Placebo Effect and Psychological Factors

A final disadvantage of acupuncture for smoking cessation is the placebo effect and psychological factors that may be involved. Acupuncture is not a purely physiological therapy, but also a psychological therapy, that may influence the perception and expectation of the patient. Therefore, the placebo effect and psychological factors may play a role in the reported benefits of acupuncture for smoking cessation and may raise some doubts and questions about the validity and reliability of the treatment.

The Role of the Placebo Effect in Acupuncture

The placebo effect is the phenomenon in which a fake or inactive treatment, such as a sugar pill or a sham needle, produces a real or positive effect, such as pain relief or mood improvement because the patient believes or expects that the treatment works. The placebo effect is a common and powerful factor in medical research and practice and may account for some or all of the effects of many treatments, including acupuncture.

The placebo effect may be involved in acupuncture for smoking cessation in various ways, such as:

  • The placebo effect of the needles: The needles used in acupuncture may have a placebo effect, as they may create a sensation or a stimulation on the skin, that may influence the brain and the body, and may induce a positive response, such as relaxation, pain relief, or craving reduction. The placebo effect of the needles may be enhanced or reduced by the type, size, number, and location of the needles, and by the manipulation, duration, and frequency of the needles.
  • The placebo effect of the acupuncturist: The acupuncturist may also have a placebo effect, as they may create a rapport or a relationship with the patient, that may influence the attitude and the behavior of the patient and may induce a positive response, such as trust, confidence, or motivation. The placebo effect of the acupuncturist may be enhanced or reduced by the education, training, experience, and style of the acupuncturist, and by the communication, interaction, and feedback of the acupuncturist.
  • The placebo effect of the environment: The environment may also have a placebo effect, as it may create a context or a setting for the treatment, that may influence the mood and the state of the patient and may induce a positive response, such as calmness, comfort, or enjoyment. The placebo effect of the environment may be enhanced or reduced by the location, design, and atmosphere of the environment, and by the music, aroma, and lighting of the environment.

The Potential Influence of Psychological Factors on Perceived Benefits

Psychological factors may also influence the perceived benefits of acupuncture for smoking cessation, as they may affect the cognition and emotion of the patient, and may alter the interpretation and evaluation of the treatment. Psychological factors may include the following:

  • The expectations and beliefs of the patient: The expectations and beliefs of the patient may affect the perceived benefits of acupuncture, as they may create a bias or a preference for the treatment, and may influence the attention and the memory of the patient. For example, if the patient expects or believes that acupuncture works, they may pay more attention to the positive effects and less attention to the negative effects, and they may remember more of the positive effects and less of the negative effects, of the treatment. This may lead to an overestimation or an exaggeration of the benefits of acupuncture.
  • The motivation and readiness of the patient: The motivation and readiness of the patient may also affect the perceived benefits of acupuncture, as they may determine the willingness and the ability of the patient to quit smoking, and to follow the treatment plan. For example, if the patient is motivated and ready to quit smoking, they may be more willing and able to attend the acupuncture sessions, to comply with the acupuncturist’s advice and recommendations, and to make positive lifestyle and environmental changes, that may enhance the effects of acupuncture. This may lead to an improvement or an achievement of the smoking cessation goal.
  • The attribution and justification of the patient: The attribution and justification of the patient may also affect the perceived benefits of acupuncture, as they may explain or rationalize the cause and the meaning of the treatment outcome. For example, if the patient attributes or justifies the success or the failure of the treatment to the acupuncture, rather than to other factors, such as their own effort, willpower, or luck, they may reinforce or undermine their confidence and satisfaction with the treatment. This may lead to a confirmation or a denial of the benefits of acupuncture.

Whether Reported Successes May Be Attributed to the Placebo Effect Rather Than the Physiological Impact of Acupuncture

The placebo effect and psychological factors may raise some doubts and questions about whether the reported successes of acupuncture for smoking cessation may be attributed to the placebo effect rather than the physiological impact of acupuncture. Some of the arguments and evidence for and against this possibility are:

  • For: Some researchers and critics argue that the reported successes of acupuncture for smoking cessation may be attributed to the placebo effect rather than the physiological impact of acupuncture, based on the following arguments and evidence:
    • The lack of consistent, bias-free evidence: There is no uniform, impartial evidence indicating that acupuncture yields a lasting advantage in helping individuals quit smoking for a period extending six months or beyond. Most of the studies on acupuncture for smoking cessation are of low quality, small sample size, short duration, or inconsistent methodology, and the results are not conclusive, reliable, or generalizable.
    • The difficulty of designing a valid and reliable placebo or sham control: There is no valid and reliable placebo or sham control for acupuncture, as the patients or the acupuncturists may be able to tell the difference between the real and the fake needles, or the real and the fake points, and the placebo or sham control may still have some physiological or psychological effects. Therefore, the studies that compare acupuncture with placebo or sham control may not eliminate the placebo effect and may overestimate the specific effects of acupuncture.
    • The similarity of the effects of acupuncture and placebo or sham control: There is no significant difference between the effects of acupuncture and placebo or sham control on smoking cessation, according to some meta-analyses and systematic reviews. Both acupuncture and placebo or sham control may have some effects on reducing cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and stress, and on enhancing mood and well-being, but these effects may not be specific or lasting, and may not lead to a higher quit rate or a lower relapse rate.
      • The influence of the psychological factors: The psychological factors, such as the expectations, beliefs, motivation, readiness, attribution, and justification of the patient, may have a greater impact on the perceived benefits of acupuncture than the physiological impact of acupuncture. The psychological factors may create a self-fulfilling prophecy, a confirmation bias, or a cognitive dissonance, that may affect the perception and evaluation of the treatment outcome.
    • Against: Some acupuncturists and advocates argue that the reported successes of acupuncture for smoking cessation may not be attributed to the placebo effect, but rather to the physiological impact of acupuncture, based on the following arguments and evidence:
      • The existence of consistent, bias-free evidence: There is some consistent, bias-free evidence that acupuncture has a sustained benefit on smoking cessation for six months or more, according to some meta-analyses and systematic reviews. Some of the studies on acupuncture for smoking cessation are of high quality, have large sample sizes, long duration, and have rigorous methodology, and the results are conclusive, reliable, and generalizable.
      • The possibility of designing a valid and reliable placebo or sham control: There is a possibility of designing a valid and reliable placebo or sham control for acupuncture, as some researchers have developed and tested some methods, such as the Streitberger needle, the Park device, or the validated sham acupuncture (VSA), which are non-penetrating, non-stimulating, and non-specific, and which can create a convincing and blinding placebo or sham control for acupuncture. Therefore, the studies that compare acupuncture with placebo or sham control may eliminate the placebo effect and may estimate the specific effects of acupuncture.
      • The difference of the effects of acupuncture and placebo or sham control: There is a significant difference between the effects of acupuncture and placebo or sham control on smoking cessation, according to some meta-analyses and systematic reviews. Acupuncture may have more effects on reducing cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and stress, and on enhancing mood and well-being, than placebo or sham control, and these effects may be specific and lasting and may lead to a higher quit rate and a lower relapse rate.
      • The independence of the psychological factors: The psychological factors, such as the expectations, beliefs, motivation, readiness, attribution, and justification of the patient, may not have a greater impact on the perceived benefits of acupuncture than the physiological impact of acupuncture. The psychological factors may be independent of or influenced by the acupuncture treatment, and may not affect the perception and evaluation of the treatment outcome.

Therefore, it is important to be aware of the placebo effect and psychological factors in acupuncture, and to be critical and informed when evaluating and interpreting the reported benefits of acupuncture for smoking cessation.

Conclusion

Acupuncture is an ancient healing art that has been used for thousands of years, and is still evolving and improving. Acupuncture is based on the principles of Qi, meridians, and Yin and Yang, which are the core concepts of traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture can balance the energy and restore the health of the body, mind, and spirit.

Acupuncture can treat a wide range of physical and mental health conditions, such as chronic pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia, migraine, nausea, sinus congestion, stress, infertility, and more. Acupuncture can also be used as a preventive measure to enhance the immune system and promote general wellness.

Acupuncture is a safe and effective therapy when performed by trained and licensed professionals. Acupuncture has few and mild side effects, and few and rare complications. Acupuncture also has few specific contraindications, which require caution and modification.

Acupuncture is not only a standalone therapy, but also a complementary and integrative therapy, which means that it can be used in conjunction with conventional healthcare, to enhance the effectiveness and safety of both modalities. Acupuncture is integrated into conventional healthcare in various ways, such as referral, co-treatment, and integration. Acupuncturists and medical professionals can collaborate to provide the best care for patients, by adopting some of the approaches, such as respect, communication, and education.

However, acupuncture is not a perfect or magical therapy, and it has some disadvantages or limitations, especially when used for smoking cessation. Some of the disadvantages or limitations of acupuncture for smoking cessation are:

  • Limited scientific evidence: There is a lack of robust scientific evidence to support the efficacy of acupuncture for smoking cessation. There are also challenges in conducting controlled trials for acupuncture, and contrasting views on the reliability of existing research.
  • Varied individual responses: There is a variation in the individual responses to acupuncture for smoking cessation, depending on various factors, such as the severity and duration of the addiction, the motivation and readiness to quit, and the expectations and beliefs about acupuncture.
  • Dependency on practitioner skill: There is a dependency on practitioner skill in acupuncture for smoking cessation, as the effectiveness of acupuncture may depend largely on the acupuncturist’s education, training, experience, and technique. There may also be inconsistencies in treatment outcomes based on practitioner differences.
  • Cost and time commitment: There is a cost and time commitment involved in acupuncture for smoking cessation, as acupuncture may require multiple sessions and follow-up care, to achieve and maintain the results. There may also be barriers or challenges in accessing and affording acupuncture as a smoking cessation method.
  • Lack of regulation and standardization: There is a lack of regulation and standardization in acupuncture for smoking cessation, as acupuncture does not have a standardized protocol or guideline, and varies in terms of techniques and approaches. There may also be challenges and uncertainties in comparing and evaluating the quality and consistency of the treatment.
  • Placebo effect and psychological factors: There is a placebo effect and psychological factors that may be involved in acupuncture for smoking cessation, as acupuncture may influence the perception and expectation of the patient. There may also be doubts and questions about whether the reported successes of acupuncture may be attributed to the placebo effect rather than the physiological impact of acupuncture.

Therefore, acupuncture is not a definitive or universal solution for smoking cessation, and it may not work for everyone, or for every condition. Acupuncture may have some benefits, but also some drawbacks, when used for smoking cessation, and it may not be the best or the only option for quitting smoking. Acupuncture may be more effective and suitable for some people, and less effective and suitable for others, depending on their individual characteristics and needs.

The debate and research on acupuncture for smoking cessation are ongoing, and there may be new findings and developments in the future, that may shed more light on the mechanisms, effects, and limitations of acupuncture for smoking cessation. However, until then, it is important to be cautious and informed when choosing and using acupuncture as a smoking cessation method, and to consult and cooperate with your acupuncturist and your physician, to find the best and the safest way to quit smoking.

Acupuncture is a holistic therapy, which means that it considers the whole person, not just the parts. Acupuncture recognizes that smoking cessation is not only a physical challenge, but also a mental, emotional, social, and spiritual challenge, and that it requires a comprehensive and personalized approach, that addresses all the aspects and factors that affect the health and well-being of the person. Acupuncture is a therapy that can help you quit smoking, but it is not the only therapy, and it may not be enough by itself. You may also need other therapies, such as nicotine replacement therapy, behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy, or herbal medicine, to help you quit smoking. You may also need to make some lifestyle and environmental changes, such as eating well, exercising regularly, sleeping well, managing stress, avoiding triggers, and having social support, to help you quit smoking. You may also need to have a strong motivation and readiness to quit smoking, and to have a clear and realistic goal, to help you quit smoking.

Acupuncture is a therapy that can help you quit smoking, but it is not a therapy that can make you quit smoking. You are the one who can make yourself quit smoking, by making the decision and taking the action, to quit smoking. Acupuncture is a therapy that can support you and guide you, but you are the one who can empower yourself and inspire yourself, to quit smoking. Acupuncture is a therapy that can impact your health and well-being in a positive and profound way, but you are the one who can create your health and well-being, by quitting smoking.

FAQ

Does acupuncture really work for smoking?

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine and a component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in which thin needles are inserted into the body at specific points, called acupuncture points, to stimulate the flow of Qi (energy) and balance the Yin and Yang (opposite and complementary forces) in the body. Acupuncture is claimed to reduce cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and stress, and to enhance mood and well-being, among other benefits. However, the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture for smoking cessation is limited and inconsistent. Some studies suggest that acupuncture may have some short-term effects, but no sustained benefit for six months or more. Other studies suggest that acupuncture may have no significant difference from placebo or sham control, or conventional treatments, such as nicotine patches or gum. Therefore, the answer to whether acupuncture really works for smoking is not definitive or universal, and it may depend on various factors, such as the individual characteristics and needs of the smoker, the type and approach of acupuncture, the skill and technique of the acupuncturist, and the co-interventions and medications used.

What is the success rate of acupuncture to quit smoking?

The success rate of acupuncture to quit smoking is difficult to measure and compare, as there is no standardized protocol or guideline for acupuncture for smoking cessation, and there are variations in the methods and outcomes of the studies on acupuncture for smoking cessation. However, some meta-analyses and systematic reviews have attempted to estimate the success rate of acupuncture to quit smoking, by pooling the results of multiple studies and calculating the odds ratio or the relative risk of quitting smoking with acupuncture versus placebo or sham control, or conventional treatments, such as nicotine replacement therapy, behavioral therapy, or hypnotherapy. According to these meta-analyses and systematic reviews, the success rate of acupuncture to quit smoking ranges from 4% to 40%, depending on the definition and measurement of success, the duration and frequency of follow-up, and the quality and reliability of the studies. Therefore, the success rate of acupuncture to quit smoking is not consistent or conclusive, and it may vary from person to person, and from study to study.

What are the acupuncture points for quitting smoking?
  1. There are many acupuncture points for quitting smoking, which are selected based on the individual diagnosis, treatment plan, technique, and response of the smoker, and the tradition, school, style, and preference of the acupuncturist. However, some of the common acupuncture points for quitting smoking are:
  • Ear acupuncture points: Ear acupuncture, also known as auricular acupuncture, is a type of acupuncture that focuses on ear acupuncture, which is a microsystem that maps the whole body on the ear, and uses small needles, seeds, magnets, or pellets to stimulate the ear points. Ear acupuncture is often used for addiction, weight loss, pain, and stress. Some of the ear acupuncture points for quitting smoking are:
    • Shenmen: This point is located on the upper part of the ear, near the apex. It is also known as the “spirit gate”, and it is used to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and relieve pain.
    • Lung: This point is located on the lower part of the ear, near the earlobe. It is also known as the “lung point”, and it is used to clear the lungs, reduce coughing, and improve breathing.
    • Mouth: This point is located on the lower part of the ear, near the jaw. It is also known as the “mouth point”, and it is used to reduce cravings, control appetite, and stimulate saliva.
    • Endocrine: This point is located in the middle part of the ear, near the antihelix. It is also known as the “endocrine point”, and it is used to regulate hormones, metabolism, and blood sugar.
  • Body acupuncture points: Body acupuncture, also known as traditional Chinese acupuncture, is the most common and widely practiced type of acupuncture, which is based on the principles of TCM, such as Qi, meridians, and Yin and Yang. Body acupuncture uses thin, stainless steel needles, which are inserted into specific acupuncture points on the body, to stimulate the Qi and balance the Yin and Yang. Some of the body acupuncture points for quitting smoking are:
    • Tim Mee: This point is located on the wrist, one finger-width above the crease, on the inner side of the arm. It is also known as the “smoking cessation point”, and it is used to reduce cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and stress.
    • He Gu: This point is located on the hand, between the thumb and the index finger, at the highest point of the muscle when the thumb and index finger are brought close together. It is also known as the “Union Valley Point”, and it is used to relieve pain, headache, and sinus congestion.
    • Zu San Li: This point is located on the leg, four finger-widths below the kneecap, on the outer side of the shinbone. It is also known as the “leg three miles point”, and it is used to enhance the immune system, regulate blood pressure, and improve digestion.
    • Yin Tang: This point is located on the forehead, between the eyebrows, at the level of the third eye. It is also known as the “hall of impression point”, and it is used to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep.
How much is acupuncture to stop smoking?

The cost of acupuncture to stop smoking may vary depending on the acupuncturist, the location, the length and frequency of the sessions, and the condition being treated. The average cost of an acupuncture session in the United States is between $60 and $120, but it can range from $20 to $200 or more. Some acupuncturists may offer discounts, packages, sliding scales, or free consultations, to make acupuncture more affordable and accessible. Acupuncture is covered by some health insurance plans, but not all. You should check with your insurance provider, and your acupuncturist, to see if acupuncture is covered, and what are the requirements, limitations, and co-payments. Some insurance plans may only cover acupuncture for certain conditions, such as chronic pain, or may only cover a limited number of sessions, or may require a referral from a physician. Some insurance plans may also have a network of preferred acupuncturists or may reimburse the patient for the cost of acupuncture, rather than paying the acupuncturist directly.

*Image credits- freepik*

Important Notice:

The information provided on “health life ai” is intended for informational purposes only. While we have made efforts to ensure the accuracy and authenticity of the information presented, we cannot guarantee its absolute correctness or completeness. Before applying any of the strategies or tips, please consult a professional medical adviser.

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