There are many reasons for smokers to quit smoking. Practically every smoker knows that smoking significantly increases the risk for lung cancer and heart disease. Many are also aware that it speeds up the aging process, contributing to a faster decline in mental functions and making skin prone to wrinkles. Moreover, with the increase in excise duty on cigarettes over the past few years, smoking has become an expensive habit.

Many smokers want to give up smoking, yet the percentage of smokers who manage to stub out their puffing habit is still low. There are smokers who attempted to quit several times but have failed, while some don’t try because they think it is extremely difficult to do so. Indeed, quitting smoking can be a tough task for many, especially those who began smoking in their youth and have been smoking regularly since then.

Nicotine addiction is one of the reason why quitting smoking is so difficult. Nicotine changes the levels of chemicals in your brain and triggers a “feel good” effect such that many smokers rely on it as a means to cope with stress, anxiety or even boredom. Withdrawal from nicotine can cause a wide range of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, nausea, coughing, constipation, mood swings, increased irritability, difficulty concentrating, tremors, fatigue, insomnia, craving for sweet things, etc.

If you are contemplating to quit smoking, whether you are a first timer or a repeated attempter, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a great deal to offer to help you with your quest for a smoke-free living. You will be assessed based on your unique conditions, taking into account all your symptoms before a therapy plan is worked out for you. The treatment often involves acupuncture and tuina.

Acupuncture, which is safe, natural and effective, has been used to help with smoking cessation in many ways. It involves the insertion of thin needles at specific points on your body to optimize the flow of life energy (Qi) throughout your body. Points are chosen to help ease your withdrawal symptoms and restore the balance of your body, with a focus on relieving symptoms such as restlessness, headache, fatigue, insomnia, and digestive problems. Special seeds are sometimes placed on certain points on the ears with small plasters to help suppress cravings. People who undergo acupuncture treatments for smoking cessation often report a change in the smoking experience, detailing an unpleasant odour of the cigarette smoke which decreases their cravings for nicotine and deters them from picking up another cigarette.

In addition to acupuncture, tuina (Chinese ancient form of massage) which is very good at promoting relaxation and rejuvenation, can further help in alleviating your fatigue, anxiety, restlessness and irritability.

The frequency and number of treatments required are different for each individual. A typical smoking cessation program aims to help you stay smoke free for at least 28 days, requiring you to be treated at least twice a week initially. The frequency can be reduced to once a week when the symptoms are relieved and cravings curbed. Once you have passed the 28-day smoke-free period, the risk of relapsing decreases significantly, and you are on your way to a healthier life!

Kong Swee Siew
TCM Physician
Aegle Wellness