Quitting Smoking

Conventional Approach
by Dr. Brown
& Alternative Approach

by Dr. Dillard
Quitting smoking can be extremely difficult because nicotine is a highly addictive drug. That's why it often takes more than just willpower to quit. But rest assured-when you are ready to commit to taking the step, help is available. Two effective conventional means to help combat nicotine dependency include counseling and nicotine replacement therapy. Consult your primary care physician about treatment options.

Counseling can offer support and encouragement as you adapt to a non-smoking lifestyle. Forms of counseling range from one-on-one sessions with your healthcare provider to stop-smoking support groups. You can also call the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345 or visit their web site,, to learn more about their free stop-smoking programs.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy remedies
In addition to counseling, there are over-the-counter medications that can help you reduce your cravings, such as the patch and nicotine gum.

  • The patch, a nicotine transdermal (through the skin) system, delivers a steady, measured dose of nicotine to the body. The patch is placed on the skin and gradually decreases your need for nicotine by reducing withdrawal symptoms. Nicotrol® TD, Nicoderm CQ®, and ProStep® are all available over-the-counter. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which over-the-counter brand is best for you. Aside from skin irritations that may occur at the patch sites, there are very few side effects with the patch, and it only needs to be applied to the skin once a day.

  • Nicotine gum is marketed over-the-counter as Nicorette® and comes in doses of 2 milligrams (for smokers of 24 or fewer cigarettes a day) and 4 milligrams (for smokers of 25 cigarettes or more a day). It must be chewed in a certain way to ensure that the nicotine in the gum is absorbed through mouth's lining. This process requires slowly chewing and then lodging the gum between your cheek and gums. Nicorette should be avoided if you have dental or jaw problems.
Although your decision to quit, as well as your success in accomplishing this task, is greatly influenced by how much you want to stop smoking, help is available to you. By using the nicotine patch or gum and/or getting the support and encouragement you need from friends, family, and your doctor, you can kick the habit.

Ronald C. Brown, MD, FACP., is the Vice President of Medical Programs for Oxford Health Plans. He is a graduate of Yale University School of Medicine and was trained in internal medicine at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. Dr. Brown is a board-certified internist.
  There are a number of effective treatments that can be used to help individuals quit smoking, including massage therapy and acupuncture.

Acupuncture remedies
Based on research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other agencies, auricular acupuncture, the insertion of tiny, hair-thin needles in the ear, may be effective in treating addictions like smoking. Many Eastern cultures believe that acupuncture works by stimulating the body's flow of qi (pronounced "chee"), or the body's vital energy, and rebalancing their forces. In Western medicine, acupuncture is believed to help people quit smoking by prompting the body's release of natural painkillers called endorphins. Acupuncture has few side effects or complications, and the cost is generally low.

Massage Therapy remedies
Massage directed around the face, head, and neck can help reduce the sensations of jitteriness associated with cravings for nicotine. Through manipulation of muscles, massage therapy helps overworked muscles to relax and muscle toxins to be released. It also helps the body relieve the stress and tension that may lead some people to start or continue smoking.

Complementary and alternative medicine approaches to quitting smoking are excellent options to try together with more conventional approaches to healing. Remember to speak with your doctor about which treatments may be best for you.

James Dillard, MD, DC, CAc, is the founding Medical Director for Oxford Health Plans' Complementary and Alternative Medicine program and is chairman of the Oxford Chiropractic Advisory Board. He is a board-certified medical doctor, a doctor of chiropractic, and a certified medical acupuncturist.

This column is offered for your interest and information. It is not intended as advice and should not replace your doctor's recommendation or treatment plan. Comments on this column can be e-mailed to or mailed to:

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