Can Acupuncture Help You Stop Smoking?

  • Medical Author:
    Standiford Helm II, MD

    Dr. Helm has been practicing interventional pain management since 1982. Dr. Helm is a diplomate of the American Board of Anesthesiology with subspecialty certification in Pain Medicine and of the American Board of Pain Medicine. Dr. Helm is a Fellow of Interventional Pain Practice (FIPP), the only certifying agency which tests the ability to perform interventional pain procedures. Dr. Helm is also an examiner for FIPP.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Ask the experts

Can acupuncture help to stop smoking?

Doctor's response

Smoking, which is better described as nicotine addiction, is a complex addiction, with both psychological and physical components. Stopping smoking is very difficult, as suggested by the old Mark Twain joke, "Quitting smoking is easy. I've done it a thousand times."

There are also a thousand treatments available to help stop smoking. Whenever we have a multitude of treatments, it means we don't have any surefire way to treat a problem. Despite the absence of one "silver bullet" to treat nicotine addiction, you can stop smoking. The tools available to do so include both treating the physical addiction, such as with nicotine replacement and other medications, and treating the psychological component, as with support groups.

Many adjunctive therapies are also available, including acupuncture. While there is at least one study showing modest success in using acupuncture to treat smoking, the evidence, in our modern world of evidence-based medicine, is limited. There is no reason not to try acupuncture to stop smoking, but your chances of quitting are best if acupuncture is part of a broader treatment program.

Medically reviewed by Robert Bargar, MD; Board Certification in Public Health & General Preventive Medicine



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Reviewed on 9/18/2017