Acupuncture Helps You Quit Smoking
By Shawna E.M. Snyder, D.Ac., M.A.O.M.
Know Why You Want to Quit
So you want to quit smoking, but do you know why? “Because it’s bad for you” isn’t good enough. To get motivated, you need a powerful, personal reason to quit. Maybe you want to protect your family from secondhand smoke. Maybe the thought of lung cancer and emphysema frighten you. Did you know that cigarettes have 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing compounds plus 400 other toxins. Or maybe you’d like to look and feel younger. Choose a reason that is strong enough to outweigh the urge to light up.  The good news is that quitting smoking at any time can greatly benefit you health. Stopping smoking can benefit your body even within a few minutes as your blood pressure normalizes after only 20 minutes. Within a few hours your body begins to recover from the carbon monoxide toxicity. After several months your lung functioning will begin to improve substantially and your risk of a heart attack decreases. Long-term benefits include a reduced risk for emphysema, coronary heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.
Acupuncture treatment can greatly improve your chances of success. In fact, acupuncture is often a court mandated treatment for drug addicts because of its ability to reduce cravings and alleviate withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, anxiety and difficulty concentrating.

How Can Acupuncture Help Me to Quit Smoking?
Acupuncture can be very effective in helping you stop smoking. A recent study showed that 40% of smokers who received acupuncture to quit smoking, combined with anti-smoking counseling were able to successfully stop smoking. Acupuncture can significantly reduce nicotine cravings making it easier for you to stop smoking. 
Acupuncture can help you relax, diverting stress that leads you to smoking. Acupuncture can help your body detoxify after you quit smoking. An added benefit of acupuncture in the treatment of quitting smoking is that it can help suppress your appetite, improve your mood and reduce depression that many people experience when they stop smoking. Acupuncture, unfortunately, is not a magic cure in the treatment of any addiction, including smoking. But, acupuncture is effective in making it easier to quit and remain smoke-free for good.

Power to You!
Tell your friends, family, and co-workers that you’re trying to quit. Their encouragement could make the difference. You may also want to join a support group or talk to a counselor. Avoid being in places that you used to smoke, and those activities that are psychologically linked to smoking. Also, avoid other smokers to boost your odds of success.
One reason people smoke is that the nicotine helps them relax. Once you quit, you’ll need another way to cope with stress. Relaxation is one of the ways in which acupuncture treatment helps keep you from reaching for that cigarette. Other options are to get regular massages, listen to relaxing music, or learn yoga or tai chi. If possible, avoid stressful situations during the first few weeks after you stop smoking-use this time to pamper yourself.
Physical activity can help reduce nicotine cravings and ease some withdrawal symptoms such as reducing your stress and help you relax.  When you want to reach for a cigarette, put on your inline skates or jogging shoes instead. Even mild exercise is helpful, such as walking the dog or pulling weeds in the garden. The extra calories you burn will also ward off weight gain as you quit smoking.
Once you’ve smoked your last cigarette, toss all of your ashtrays and lighters. Wash any clothes that smell like smoke and clean your carpets, draperies, and upholstery. Use air fresheners to help rid your home of that familiar scent. You don’t want to see or smell anything that reminds you of smoking.

Food for Life
Don’t try to diet while giving up cigarettes – too much deprivation is bound to backfire.  Instead, focus on high quality, nutrient rich foods.  Eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables such as carrots, celery, leafy green salads and citrus, specifically, can help decrease cravings.  
Certain activities and foods may boost your urge to smoke so, avoid these triggers. Alcohol is one of the most common triggers, so try to drink less when you first quit. If coffee is a trigger, switch to tea for a few weeks. And if you usually smoke after meals, find something else to do instead, like brushing your teeth or chewing gum. Other foods to avoid is junk food and sugar because they will aggravate smoking withdrawal symptoms.
Drink plenty of water-it’s known that dryness causes cravings.  Another option is to sip green tea throughout day during the detox period to keep the tissues flooded with elements that discourage nicotine cravings.

Choose Your Reward
In addition to the tremendous health benefits, one of the perks of giving up cigarettes is all the money you will save. Reward yourself by spending part of it on something fun. However, there’s more than the monetary reward to consider. Smoking cessation has immediate and long term health benefits
Acupuncture can improve your quality of life by fostering a healthy state of being while keeping you on a smoke-free course.

Try and Try Again
It’s very common to have a relapse. Many smokers try several times before giving up cigarettes for good. Examine the emotions and circumstances that lead to your relapse. Use it as an opportunity to reaffirm your commitment to quitting. Once you’ve made the decision to try again, set a “quit date” within the next month. As a way to remain nicotine-free, once you‘ve successfully quit, periodic maintenance acupuncture treatment can help you stay on track and resist any urges to light up.

Shawna E.M. Snyder graduated with a Masters degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the New England School of Acupuncture in Boston, MA, a 4-year program.  Shawna is certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and is licensed as a Doctor of Acupuncture by the State of Rhode Island through the department of health.
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