Each year, the American Cancer Society encourages people to quit smoking with the Great American Smokeout. On the third Thursday in November, smokers across America quit for a day. Quitting, even for just one day, helps smokers take an important first step toward a healthier life and reduces their risk of developing conditions like COPD and cancer. But quitting isn’t easy — smokers’ bodies are physically addicted to nicotine and smoking can provide much-needed stress relief.
Located on Hawaii Island, Abundant Health Acupuncture (AHA) understands the challenges of quitting smoking. That’s why licensed acupuncturist and owner of AHA, Cassandra Cupples, offers acupuncture to help smokers quit. She says, “I’ve experienced first-hand the devastation to health that smoking can cause, such as COPD and heart disease, and it’s heartbreaking. I was drawn to acupuncture as an effective, natural way to help people improve their quality of life.”
Originating in China thousands of years ago, acupuncture restores balance to the body by inserting thin needles at strategic acupoints, or insertion points. It’s an alternative treatment Western medicine has been increasingly open to in recent years.
AHA is dedicated to helping the community understand the benefits of acupuncture. According to Cupples, "The smoking cessation program includes counseling, a series of acupuncture treatment, support mentally, physically and spiritually, and maintenance." First, Cupples meets with her patients to discuss the reasons they smoke, as well as their motivation for quitting. After the source of smoking is identified, patients can work on changing their behavior.
Along with counseling, Cupples will schedule several acupuncture sessions with the patient. With acupoints in the ear and wrist, the sessions are meant to lessen anxiety, alleviate depressive feelings, and as Cupples says, "Calm the mind, reduce nicotine cravings, and stimulate the repair and healing of organs." Other acupoints can help reduce smoking triggers by suppressing the appetite, stimulating the repair and healing of organs, and reducing food and nicotine cravings.
Depending on the patient, their needs, and the type of medication they may be taking, sometimes Cupples will recommend herbal formulas to supplement treatment. The herbal formulas can be used to help detoxify the liver and cut down on withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and depression.
At the point of smoking cessation, maintenance is key. Cupples says she "Continues to meet with patients and treat with acupuncture to help keep the body, mind and spirit in harmony and free of cravings." She and her patients talk about any challenges or temptations patients have faced and discuss strategies to help them stay on track to reach their goals. With ongoing encouragement and reminders of what they want to achieve, patients are less likely to falter back to bad habits.
Using acupuncture has safely and effectively helped many of Cupples’ patients quit smoking. However, it does take a lot of work on the patient’s part. “Quitting smoking is a commitment to improving your quality of life. Acupuncture is just a part of the long-term commitment to your health,” says Cupples. If a patient is committed to the program, acupuncture can make the difficult task of quitting smoking a little more manageable.
HMSA members can get discounts on appointments at Abundance Health Acupuncture. For more information, visit our HMSA365 page. If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment, contact Abundant Health Acupuncture at (808) 209-9977.