A recent survey indicated that fifteen percent of the general population would use complementary medicine for smoking cessation in the United States. The application of acupuncture for addictions started from a chance observation in Hong Kong that opiate withdrawal symptoms could be relieved among the addicts who received acupuncture treatment. Follow-up investigations in animals showed further data suggesting that acupuncture may help relieve substance withdrawal symptoms by promoting the release of neurotransmitters.

However, there is conflicting data on if acupuncture has an effect on smoking cessation. In one review, it was concluded that acupuncture works as well as nicotine replacement therapy. Another review concluded that randomized controlled trials were more likely to say otherwise. However, these analyses involved only a small number of studies, and may be prone to bias as they involved open trials.

The scope of techniques employed in these studies varied widely, and it is possible that one technique may be more effective than the other. For example, the acupuncture points in the ear are commonly used in the English-speaking world, whereas French practitioners more frequently use acu-points on the face. Acupuncture points on the body are typically needled at the same time, with or without electrical stimulation.

In light of the difference in research design, in choice of acu-points and in stimulation technique, further studies employing standardized methodology may help elucidate whether acupuncture is effective for smoking cessation.

This article is contributed by Britannia Acupuncture Clinic.

Author's Bio: 

Gale Benz is an alternative health commentator and blogger. She has interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture.