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How effective is acupuncture to stop smoking ?

A: As you can imagine this is a question we have been asked before. The answer we gave last year was:

The evidence for acupuncture helping people to stop smoking, either traditional acupuncture or ear acupuncture, is not that great. This was certainly the case when the BMA researched conditions for which acupuncture was effective over a decade ago, and nothing new in the field of acupuncture research has been published since to change that view.

 However, research for areas such as nicotine addiction or stress tends to employ a model of treatment which is rarely similar to the ways in which a traditional acupuncturist normally works. The use of formula points, the same ones applied time and time again, does not square with traditional treatment which is developmental and evolutionary - the results from a session help the practitioner to refine the diagnosis and inform amendments to how they treat the patient on the next visit. This is all premised on a system of Chinese medicine which aims to balance energies in the body in the simple belief that a system in balance tends to see a reduction in the symptoms which arise from underlying disharmony. Various forms of addiction, anxiety states and system failures are seen as the alarm bells of disease, and treatment is aimed at correcting the underlying patterns.

 It is often worthwhile talking directly and in person to a practitioner to get a sense of whether your own individual case is something which they believe they might be able to help. Using our 'find a practitioner' search on the website or your local Yellow Pages should identify a number of BAcC members working in your area.

This advice still holds good. We would like to say that the anecdotal evidence is good, but sadly it isn't. For some people, it appears that paying money to a health professional being told off or worse, being the object of disappointment, for smoking seems to work, but our sense is that the exact nature of the therapy is less important than the ritual involved. For many people, the attendance at a clinic is to meet someone else's need, and they light up as soon as they get outside.

 The last five years has seen a great deal of additional help available within the NHS, however, and if you haven't trawled through the information available and the various support mechanism in place, these are well worth a visit.  

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