Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine | Quit smoking

Acupuncture for quitting smoking

Acupuncture can help curve nicotine cravings to help you break your habit faster than going it alone. At Balance Life Health Care we combine the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocols with individually chosen points to address your individual concerns. Acupuncture aims to interrupt the habit neural pathway to reduce cravings, address underlying stress and make the process easier.



How does Acupuncture work to help quit smoking?

The endorphin effect

Research has suggested that Acupuncture can help stimulate the release of endorphins, serotonin, enkephalins, adenosine, γ-amino-butyric acid (GABA, a major inhibitory neurotransmitter of the brain), norepinephrine, and dopamine (1). Endorphins are endogenous opioids released from the pituitary gland in your body that signal your system to increase energy levels and decrease stress. Endorphins are believed to mediate analgesia, induce euphoria, and play a role in the reward system in the brain.

Research has shown that opioidergic activity plays a role in addictions by mediating the development of reinforcing qualities of certain activities and substances (2) such as smoking.



Reduction of physical symptoms

Chinese Medicine theory suggests that Acupuncture points have specific indications and functions. With our prescription of NADA treatment points and individual points, at Balanced Life Health Care aim to reduce the physical symptoms of nicotine addiction. These physical symptoms include cravings, irritability, anxiety, short-temper, inability to focus, depressed mood and sleeplessness.One of the most important mechanisms underlying acupuncture’s therapeutic effects is its action on the central nervous system. Evidence shows that stimulation of different points on the body causes distinct responses in blood flow, and central neural electrophysiological responses (3) as shown on MRI and infrared technology.



Relaxation and stress management

We also understand that often people smoke to deal with underlying stress that shows itself as feelings of anxiety, tension, anger or grief. Smoking a cigarette draws warm air deeply into the lungs and the nicotine hits our blood stream, then works its way into our brain allowing us to momentarily feel relaxation and release from these emotions. Acupuncture is fantastic for stress and may reduce anxiety-like behaviour following nicotine withdrawal by modulating corticotrophin-releasing factor in the amygdala (4)


How many Acupuncture sessions will I need?


Typically we expect that after each session you will have less and less cravings, and have a sense of relaxation and stress reduction. However the exact amount of session will vary from person to person, for example social smokers often need less sessions compared with daily smokers. However it is important to note that between each session no longer than 4-5 days should elapse so typically most clients will have 2-3 sessions per week until they feel confident that the cravens gave decreased.

It is important to also note that for many clients to follow up with Acupuncture in the future if cravings return.


  1. Lu DP1, Lu GP2 (2013) An Historical Review and Perspective on the Impact of Acupuncture on U.S. Medicine and Society, Med Acupunct. 2013 Oct;25(5):311-316
  2. Andrea Leuenberger (2006) Endorphins, Exercise, and Addictions: A Review of Exercise Dependence,  Impulse (The Premier Journal for Undergraduate Publications in the Neurosciences), Issue: 2006
  3. Emma M Choi,1 Fang Jiang,1 and John C Longhurst (2012) Point specificity in Acupuncture, Journal of Chinese Medicine. 2012; 7: 4
  4. Chae Y1, Yeom M, Han JH, Park HJ, Hahm DH, Shim I, Lee HS, Lee H (2008) Effect of acupuncture on anxiety-like behavior during nicotine withdrawal and relevant mechanisms, Journal of Neurosci Lett. 2008 Jan 10;430(2):98-102. Epub 2007 Oct 30.
The benefits of quitting smoking with Acupuncture