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Tobacco addiction is one of the most difficult conditions to treat using conventional Western medicine approaches. "Cold turkey," hypnosis, nicotine gum and patches, and even prescription anti-depressants have all been tried with only limited success. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine treat smoking and nictoine addiction as real, physiological problems. Recognizing that the long-term use of tobacco has altered the function of the patient, the acupuncturist works to restore the normal balance to the patient's system through the judicious use of acupuncture and, occasionally, Chinese herbal medicines.
Smoking cessation treatment consists of two parts and is performed upon three points in the auricle (lobe) of the ear. Both ears are used. The first and more powerful part of the treatment makes use of an electrostimulator. This device provides a small, tingling electric current to the three (1” long) needles inserted at the beginning of the treatment. The purpose of this instrument is to enhance the effect of the acupuncture by constantly stimulating the point. Furthermore, it has been found that this form of stimulation increases the quantity and refines the balance of substances responsible for the function of the nervous system. This procedure takes approximately fifteen minutes, from start to finish.
The second part of the treatment maintains the strength of the first with the insertion of small (2 – 3 mm) “seeds” which are attached to the ear with transparent tape and retained for about a week. By maintaining a soft pressure on the relevant acupuncture points, these seeds provide a constant level of gentle stimulation to the patient, providing a sort of mobile version of the treatment.
As these procedures are being done, the patient relaxes on a table and generally feels a calming, pleasant sensation during the entire treatment session. Although the ear lobe is quite sensitive, the patient will usually feel little pain or discomfort from either the needles or the electrostimulator.
Since every individual is different, the length of time required to quit smoking is not easily predictable. Numerous factors may influence the process, many of which are not well understood. However, the majority of people will require about 3 treatments to achieve the full effect. Approximately 40% of all smokers will stop smoking completely after the first treatment.