A traditional medicine research team at Taipei Medical University Hospital yesterday said its clinical research showed that ear acupuncture therapy could help people quit smoking.
The team, referring to the theory of channels and collaterals, said they discovered that performing acupuncture or sticking acupuncture patches on a point on the top part of the ear and another point at the bottom part of the ear, causes a person’s brain cells to stop desiring nicotine.
The team said that when the therapy was performed on long-term smokers, it made them reject the smell of cigarette smoke, adding that more than 50 percent of them quit smoking.
“It makes them feel slightly uncomfortable when they smell cigarette smoke, so they no longer want to smoke,” said Tang You-Jen (唐佑任), a traditional Chinese medicine doctor at the hospital, adding that stimulating the acupuncture points can send signals to the brain that helps long-term smokers who rely on nicotine everyday.
He said long-term smokers sometimes suffer nicotine withdrawal symptoms, such as hand tremors, when they quit smoking, but ear acupuncture therapy can help relieve such symptoms.
However, Lo Su-ying (羅素英), head of the Health Promotion Administration Health Education and Tobacco Control Division, said more scientific tests are needed before the therapy can be listed as a recommended treatment in the administration’s Second Generation Tobacco Cessation Program.
“There are about 330,000 smokers in Taiwan, and about 90,000 people have successfully quit smoking [through the program], translating to a success rate of nearly 30 percent,” she said.
Lo said studies have shown that the success rate of quitting by using willpower is only about 3 percent, so the administration suggests people who want to quit smoking seek specialist advice through the program.
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