Acupuncture and hypnosis may help smokers kick the habit

Reuters, Sunday 6 May 2012

Acupuncture and hypnosis are touted as drug-free ways to help smokers kick the habit, and there is some evidence that they work

There are still plenty of questions -- including exactly how effective the alternative therapies might be, and how they measure up against standard quit tactics.

But researchers say the alternatives should stand as options for smokers who want them.

The findings, reported in the American Journal of Medicine, come from a review of 14 previous clinical trials.

Six of those studies tested acupuncture against a "sham" version of the procedure (in which, for example, needles were placed in non-acupuncture points on the skin).

Overall, smokers who got real acupuncture were more than three times as likely to be tobacco-free six months to a year later.

Similarly, across four trials of hypnosis, smokers had a higher quit rate with the therapy compared to people who had minimal help -- like an educational booklet on kicking the habit.

In general, smokers who want to quit should first try the standard approaches -- which include nicotine-replacement therapy, medications and behavioral counseling, according to Dr. Mehdi Tahiri of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, who led the review.

"But some people are not interested in medication," he noted in an interview. And in many other cases, the standard quit therapies do not work.

"Then I think we should definitely recommend (acupuncture and hypnosis) as choices," Tahiri said.

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