According to certain studies, the feeling that one gets from smoking is similar to one after using cocaine or heroin. The purpose of acupuncture is to help in quitting smoking because it decreases the withdrawal symptoms and makes nicotine less desirable. Many smokers need at least three tries before they are completely smoke-free. Acupuncture is an alternative treatment option that can be pursued after having failed at quitting smoking in the past. Furthermore, it can be useful for those who are not able to use the nicotine patches or gums.

What’s on this page?

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese treatment method. In the core of this method is the idea that diseases are caused by disruptions of the flow of energy in the body. Acupuncture then stimulates these acupressure points with small needles and releases the energy from them. This should help in the wellbeing of the patient when the treatment is focused on the parts that are responsible for certain illnesses.

Some nerves are directly under the skin and very sensitive to pressure. In acupuncture, the needle goes through the skin and stimulates the nerve. This will then send a signal to the brain through the spine. In this treatment method, it is very important that only certain nerves are being stimulated. For example, in the case of stopping smoking, the person performing the acupuncture would only stimulate those nerves that are responsible for the addiction.

Does acupuncture really work?

The effectiveness of acupuncture as a stop smoking medication is controversial. There are no reliable studies done that would prove that acupuncture really was a great way in helping a smoker to stop smoking. Research hasn’t found any particular benefits from acupuncture. When the participants in the control group were tested similarly than the real patients, except the needles were used in places that weren’t meant to affect the decisions to stop smoking. The results weren’t any better or worse compared to the ones that actually received proper acupuncture. After six months, both groups had exactly the same number of people who had succeeded in quitting smoking. However, some patients did report back that acupuncture was beneficial because it had a positive effect on the cravings to smoke, digestive system, moods and sleeping patterns. So the efficiency of the treatment can vary between individuals.1

In either case, it is clear that acupuncture itself is not sufficient enough to help to stop smoking. It is a supportive method at best. When it is combined with other treatment options it can potentially help some patients. However, it is important that the patients themselves participate in the treatment actively so that they are ready to analyse their own behaviour and are really willing to change.

How is acupuncture used as stop smoking treatment?

When acupuncture is used to help in getting rid of the habit of smoking, it is good to focus on the pressure points around the ears because those areas are very effective in treating the addiction. It is believed that the desire to smoke diminishes when the nerves near the ears are stimulated. During every appointment, 6-7 needles are used. These needles can be removed at the end of the session or they can be left in for a couple of days. If they are held in the ear for longer, they are attached with a help of a plaster. If necessary, the needles can be left on for several weeks. The benefit in this form of treatment is that the patient does not have to return back so often.

It affects the taste of cigarettes

Another possible method is to focus on the acupoints that are located above the wrists. This area is focused on when the goal is to stop smoking and change the taste of cigarettes. The needles will then stimulate the blood circulation to the nose and throat which will better the tastebuds regarding everything else except cigarettes. The goal is that the patient will stop smoking after he cannot taste the cigarettes anymore.

It leads to a sense of pleasure

Acupuncture is said to release endorphins in the brain which will lead to a sense of pleasure. This will help the patient to handle the withdrawals better and it is less likely that the smoker will get depressed. This is also used as a way to control the patient’s weight because it is common that a smoker’s weight increases during the process of quitting smoking. Acupuncture can help in controlling appetite and digestions. The so-called hunger pressure point is right behind the ear.

How much does it cost?

Acupuncture is only beneficial if you really want to stop smoking. Just like hypnosis, it is not a miracle cure for any addiction and in itself, it doesn’t change a person’s behaviour. At the beginning of the treatment, you should schedule many treatment sessions. When the withdrawal symptoms alleviate you should have one session per week until you are completely not smoking anymore. A good therapist will find out the patient’s medical history and assess whether or not the patient is motivated enough to quit smoking.

Every session lasts from 30 minutes to an hour and costs around 30-60 pounds. Quitting smoking completely will take around six sessions which means that the price as a whole would be anywhere between 180-360 pounds.

Laser treatments

Nowadays, it is possible to switch the acupuncture needles into lasers instead. This treatment is also suitable for patients who desire to get rid of smoking. During this treatment, the red laser stimulates the acupoints just like a needle would. The laser has an effect on the nerves on the brain that also nicotine influences. If the laser therapy is done correctly, it should release endorphins that help the smoker to handle the desire to smoke and the withdrawals. Compared to regular acupuncture, laser treatment is completely painless. However, the effectiveness of the treatment is questionable. At this moment, there is no existing research available that would prove that the laser treatment would help in quitting smoking. The critics think that it only has a placebo effect.


  1. Study about Acupuncture – NCBI