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Acupuncture and allergy to smell of smoke

Q:  I have a big problem with cigarette smoke I hate the smell and it makes me feel sick I do get anxity and stressed when smelling it making me very unsocialabe do you think acupuncture would help thank you in advance

We are sorry to hear of your problem with cigarette smoke. Clearly your problems will have eased a little over the last few years as the smell has become less prevalent, but we are sure that you have experienced that odd sensation that the less common cigarette smoke has become the more noticeable it is when it does turn up.

We have to be honest and say straight away that we have never come across anyone with the same problem and as you might expect there is no research of any kind into this specific problem. We do occasionally come across people with phobias, and we wrote a long answer last December about the fear of flying in which we said:

It was always said that if you wanted to get a straight answer from a doctor, you should ask them, 'would you be happy for your wife to have this treatment?' So, I suppose if you said to us, 'would you recommend acupuncture to your family to overcome a fear of flying?', the answer would probably be 'no'. This is not to say that it might not work; over many years of practice we have heard of a number of almost incredible stories about changes which people have managed to make thanks to treatment, and quite often by the practitioner simply sticking to very basic traditional acupuncture. 

Extreme reactions of any kind are, from a traditional acupuncture perspective, indications that a part of the system is out of balance and generating inappropriate emotional or mental responses. It is sensible to be mildly apprehensive about flying, just as it is to be mildly scared of heights. If the faculty of sensible fear is out of balance, then extreme reactions abound.

However, with a problem such as this there are other possibilities which seem to us to go to the heart of the problem much more directly. Hypnotherapy or CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) are both well tried approaches for phobias, with the added advantage in the case of hypnotherapy of being able to do trial runs under the power of suggestion. There are a great many forms of hypnotherapy, all of which have their strengths, but those based around NLP and the work of hypnotherapist Milton Erickson seem to have the most well attested handle on treating phobias.

There is no doubt that you would probably derive some benefit from acupuncture treatment in terms of a reduction in anxiety, as our factsheets show, and always the possibility that a skilled practitioner might look at your overall balance and get that feeling that there is something obvious to be done which may help. It is more probable, though, that they would do as this expert would, refer you to a trusted colleague who does hypnotherapy or CBT to ensure that your needs were skilfully and professionally met. Because traditional acupuncture treats the person, not necessarily the condition they have, there is a danger that this can be re-framed as 'acupuncture can treat anything', and occasionally incautious practitioners let patients' expectations run away with them. 

 If you substitute the words 'extreme reaction to cigarette smoke' for 'fear of flying' the same advice holds good. It might well be worth your while talking to a local BAcC member about your problems because in conversation they may see that the issue is really your anxiety which has latched on to a specific trigger. In this case they may well think that something could be done. If not, then it is a trusted source of a good referral to other forms of treatment. It's often very difficult to know where to turn in the field of CBT and hypnotherapy, and personal recommendation is usually the best way to find a good practitioner.

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