Integrative Medicine Blog

Acupuncture for Smoking Cessation

Christopher Reilly L.Ac., MSA Sunday, January 08, 2017
Istock quit smoking

In the 1970's, an acupuncture protocol was developed by a medical doctor, Michael Smith as an alternative to methadone treatment.

Smoking cessation is a pretty common, health-related New Years resolution, so I thought it would be a nice time to explain the process a little.

In the 1970's, a new acupuncture protocol was developed in the Bronx, NY by a medical doctor named Michael Smith as an alternative to methadone treatment for opiate/heroin addiction. Over the following years the protocol would be modified to include different acupuncture points to arrive at the combination of the five used today.

Points of the "five needle protocol," or "5NP," are all located in the ear, and are now used from New York to Seattle, WA in addiction centers across the country. While my colleague Rebecca Rice, L.Ac. and I were still finishing graduate school in Seattle, we helped King County research and report on the effectiveness of the 5NP in the county's drug treatment programs, which were significantly positive.

Within the brain, the pleasure and reward centers that play the central role in opiate addiction, are the very same centers that underlay smoking and nicotine addiction. The 5NP has now been in use for decades as a method to help reduce and manage withdrawal symptoms in someone who is quitting smoking. The smoking cessation client will stop smoking, then within 24 to 48 hours will begin their acupuncture sessions to moderate the withdrawal symptoms. Side effects include: relaxation, better energy, improved sleep and increased sense of wellness.

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