Bindi Zhu, M.D. (China) Ph.D. and Ileana Bourland, MSOM, Lic.Ac.
Tobacco users, especially people who smoke cigarettes, use one of the most addictive drugs in the world. This addictive agent, nicotine, makes its way into the bloodstream via inhalation more quickly than with an intravenous injection. Inhalation also provides an efficient vehicle for the richest source of carcinogens, co-carcinogens, and radioactive particles in any product available for human consumption. In addition to the harmful particles present in cigarette smoke, the nicotine present in tobacco accounts for the powerful nature of the addiction.¹
Smoking cigarettes is the principal cause of lung cancer. It produces an especially insidious tumor because there are no symptoms in the early stages. Unfortunately, tumor detection frequently occurs after the cancer has spreads to other vital organs, and typically kills most victims within a few years whether they receive any kind of treatment or not.
Lung cancer is only one of the medical consequences of smoking tobacco; smoking also causes arterial and bladder disease, cancers of the head and neck, and raises the risk of leukemia. The single most preventable cause of major illness, cigarette addiction stands as the greatest public health problem in our nation today. By not smoking, you will greatly reduce your chances of getting cancer.
For these and many other reasons, most tobacco users want to quit. When trying to quit smoking, most people experience two sets of symptoms known as the ì quit smoking syndrome î. The first set of symptoms involves emotional changes like irritability and a tendency to get easily angered. The second set of symptoms relates to the oral fixation associated with cigarette smoking, such as increased appetite and weight gain.
Chinese medicine helps to reduce these symptoms by using acupuncture, auricular (ear) acupuncture, and herbal medicine. By stimulating the Lung, Liver, and Spleen organ systems, the body begins to process toxins and heavy metals accumulated from tobacco use. Using acupuncture and the correct Chinese herbal formula, your body will promote the smooth flow of energy in the Liver, balance the digestive tract's absorptive function (which is governed by the Spleen organ system), regulate Lung energy, calm the mind, increase energy levels, and reduce symptoms from quit smoking syndrome. These functions help the body eliminate the chemicals introduced by cigarettes and to deal with the difficulties associated with quitting.
The Chinese have thoroughly documented the use of auricular acupuncture to help quit smoking. In clinical trails, its use increased a bitter taste in the mouth when smoking cigarettes and it reduced cravings. Both smoking and nonsmoking groups experienced a reduction in perceiving salty, sweet, and sour flavors. Only the smoking group experienced an increase in the bitter taste while smoking, especially at the root of the tongue. The bitter taste may be caused by the process of nicotine detoxification.² At the onset of the desire to smoke, pressing the ear tacks or beads (inserted during treatment) helps to reduce cravings. A strong desire to quit smoking is necessary; acupuncture alone cannot overcome this powerful addiction. Increasing the bitter flavor while smoking, however, can encourage a motivated person to quit.
To form a treatment plan, several factors are considered based on the individual's smoking history. The degree of addiction to nicotine, including the length of time cigarettes have been smoked, and how many cigarettes are smoked per day will largely determine the number of treatments needed. Other important considerations include the individual's unique constitution and the function of their primary organ systems responsible for detoxification, the Lung, Liver, Kidney and Spleen. The number of visits required generally varies from two to four treatments, once per week. The patient will reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke, gradually reduce the physiological and psychological dependence on the nicotine, and thus break free from the behavioral pattern associated with smoking.
The WHO (World Health Organization) cites 104 different conditions that acupuncture can successfully treat. This includes addictions of all kinds including food, tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.
¹ The Relationship between Taste and Smoking.î Shanghai Acupuncture Journal, March 1985, vol.I.
² A powerful vasoconstrictant, nicotine strongly constricts blood vessels throughout the body. This temporary narrowing of the vessels stresses every organ system in the body, including the digestive, circulatory, genitourinary, and respiratory systems. This temporary narrowing of the vessels can create very serious health problems in anyone suffering from circulatory or heart problems, such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, or family history of stroke. Those with any kind of respiratory disease, diabetes, urinary or prostate trouble, seizure disorder, a family risk of cancer or increased risk of cancer for any reason, or are taking birth control pills are at an increased risk of disease and should not use tobacco.
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© 2002 Ileana Bourland, Lic.Ac.
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