Acupuncture Assistance for Withdrawal from Tobacco Smoking

The effectiveness of acupuncture for drug withdrawal, including smoking cessation, has been proclaimed by acupuncturists in the U.S. since the early 1980’s.  Much of the work in this area was stimulated by the reports of Michael Smith, who developed an acupuncture protocol for “drug detox” in the late 1970’s.  His work focused especially on the use of ear acupuncture, following the work of surgeon-acupuncturist Paul Nogier in France.  Smith has also pursued the question of the nature of addiction and the setting required to help patients overcome addiction.  Though Smith’s work was mainly involved with difficult inner-city drug problems like heroin addiction, the principles and methods have been applied to nicotine addiction in daily smokers.  Explanations for the role of acupuncture in drug withdrawal, such as inducing enkephalins and endorphins to reduce the anxiety and stress as the blood levels of the drug decline, were proposed.  The results of testing for these substances have been somewhat contradictory.

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