be good to yourself...

Acupuncture / Acupressure

i. Before quitting

[Contributed by Grant N. Mazmanian]

"QUOTE I went to an M.D. specializing in anesthesiology at a local hospital outside of Philadelphia at the recommendation of a friend. The doctor gave me references and claimed a 75% success rate. I called several doctors and nurses at the hospital and they all reported the same results: they stopped smoking after one or two treatments, minimal withdrawal symptoms, little or no weight gain and no apparent side effects. They all had tried to quit several times and failed and were very enthusiastic about the procedure.

"My visit lasted about an hour. Sterile, disposable acupuncture needles were inserted along my arms, hands, ears and head. There was little to no pain. A final needle was placed on the top of my head and an electrode was connected to a mild electric current. I rested in a chair during the procedure.

"At the end of treatment, I was given an herb to mix with hot water to make a tea. I was instructed not to smoke and if I had any cravings, to drink the tea. If the tea didn't work, the doctor gave me his beeper number.

"For the first few days I felt a craving but I didn't know what I wanted; it wasn't for a cigarette but I was at a loss to describe what the craving was for. I called the doctor about it and he told me that it was a normal response. I went for a second session because I wanted to reinforce the first treatment but I honestly didn't think I needed it. After a week, the craving subsided. The usual cigarette 'triggers were gone after two weeks."

[N.B. - Grant does not know the herb he was given - ed.]

ii. After quitting

[Contributed by Tina]

"I was getting discouraged that after sooooo many days without nicotine, I was still longing to smoke all the time. It didn't seem to make sense to reintroduce nicotine into my system via gum or patches (though if I'd planned my quit, I would have used one of them). I went to an acupuncturist instead, and thought I'd post a report. ...

"After swabbing my ears with alcohol, she used long tweezers to poke a little ring into the upper arch of my left ear, and another one at the nest-like hollow in the lower part of my right ear. These rings are less than 1/8 inch diameter, and though they seem to be laying flat on the skin, they must have a pointy part facing into the skin because a) I could feel them being placed as if they were poking my skin (although this might have been the tweezers) and b) I was instructed to tap the rings to activate the pressure points in question. Using small pieces of clear surgical tape, Dr. Lee secured the rings to my ears. She issued the following instructions: lightly tap the points 20 times each morning upon awakening; tap them 5-7 times any time I feel the urge for a cigarette.

I could swim, shower, sleep, etc without fear of disturbing the rings, but I shouldn't scratch at them. They would help me be free of urges to smoke, and even if I did have a cigarette, it would taste bad and I wouldn't want to smoke it. (Junkie thinking ALERT: It did cross my mind to test this theory....) Because I had already quit for 2 weeks, she thought a week would do me, and I should drop by (no appointment needed, because it's so fast) to have the rings removed. The visit cost $50.

"So, how is it, you're asking. From the first, I noticed that tapping the rings did seem to help get over cravings. The first day, I did this many many many times. Fewer the second day, and, you guessed it, fewer each day than the last. Also, I could feel a little soreness, especially in the left, at the beginning, and this too diminished.

"The experience, especially noticeable with the 20 a.m.-taps, is sorta... Eastern. That is, the cravings don't feel like they're being wiped out, as if with a drug, but rather that you are becoming slightly better balanced, and therefore your need for something to fix you, like a cigarette, is less. I can't imagine that this subtle effect would be enough to have made me quit had I still been smoking. And I have not tried what it would taste like to smoke a cigarette."

Cutting Down