by Clark and Ann Zimmerman, L.Ac.
Many people turn to acupuncture when they want to quit smoking. This is because acupuncture can be a gentle and effective way to reduce cravings, detoxify the lungs, and stabilize one’s emotions as they are quitting. Is it a magic bullet? Usually not. The patient has to be ready to quit. They have to be willing to shift to the identity of being a non-smoker. This often means giving up activities/rituals that promoted the smoking habit, such as going out to bars, drinking the morning cup of coffee, or looking forward to the smoke break at the office. Sometimes it is also important to step back from others who continue to smoke.
Acupuncture has enjoyed a long history of helping people with a variety of addictive behaviors. To this end, people have turned to acupuncture for alcoholism, drug abuse, food cravings, and even other addictions such as gambling, sex, or shopping. Acupuncture works by balancing the flow of Qi in the body and mind. In acupuncture theory, addictions are due to a number of potential imbalances in the way that energy flows through the body. In particular, people who exhibit highly addictive behavior tend to have problems in their heart Qi, which is due to a history of emotional or sexual abuse or a betrayal of trust. As their core emotional response to life is based on a sense that life isn’t safe, they turn to external solutions to provide a sense of comfort and security.