- Patient Report -
Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine and Hypnosis as Combined Modalities for Smoking Cessation
by Cynde Randall
I am 41 years old and had been a smoker since I was 19. This is the story of my journey towards recovery from nicotine addiction.
Exactly two years ago I pulled into the driveway of the East West Clinic on the shores of Bald Eagle Lake in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. I turned off the car engine and heard what seemed to be hundreds of robins singing. They had just returned from their winter retreat. Flocks of them filled the surrounding woods and nearby marsh. I felt overcome by the beauty and emotion of the moment.
I was so aware of how sick I felt. My body was toxic from 20 years of smoking cigarettes, a toxicity only made worse by repeated failed attempts to quit and the use of nicotine substitutes. I had become increasingly alarmed by the intensity of my addiction. My skin was ravaged, my lungs hurt, all my joints ached, I suffered from chronic lower back pain and routinely experienced anxiety and depression. My brain so thoroughly relied on this drug to operate that any term of deprivation left me unable to think straight or cope with the simplest things. I knew it was killing me.
The depression that I felt that day was matched by the beauty of the robin's song. Spring was back and this chorus of voices seemed to say that through out nature, regeneration is an all powerful and all pervasive force. They reminded me that I, too, was part of nature. The birds seemed an omen -- a sign that I had finally found a "nature healer." Her name is Colet Lahoz. Upon meeting her I intuitively knew that she could help me and I would never smoke cigarettes again.
Colet Lahoz, a registered nurse and a practitioner of Chinese medicine recommended a course of treatments that involved acupuncture once each day for three days, cold turkey after the first treatment, followed by weekly treatments for 10 weeks. I also listened every day for 30 days to a self-hypnosis tape that she made specifically for people who are wanting to quit smoking. She explained that the acupuncture treatments would allow my body to produce high levels of endorphins (endogenous morphine-like chemical). This would give the signal that there was something in my body that was like nicotine. Indeed, I did not suffer the usual craving and other withdrawal symptoms. The hypnosis tape contained suggestions commanding my mind to reject nicotine and to clear my body of its toxins. It ended with affirmations helping me with my resolve to stay a non-smoker.
My boyfriend and parents drove me to the first 3 treatments. I knew from previous attempts to quit that it would not be safe to drive a car the first five days or so.
Colet Lahoz's course of treatments steadied me and cleared my head enough to maintain my commitment. Each week she encouraged me to talk about the process and to notice how my life was changing. I cried frequently during the first few weeks and tried to feel this as a chemical release. I accepted the fact that I was in for a ride.
I learned during this process that nicotine intercepts the normal chemical processes of thinking by literally sticking to the information receptors in the brain. The body compensates by growing more receptors. By the time the addict stops smoking she has developed too many information receptors. This accounts for the terrible sense of being overwhelmed by sensory information, everything is too loud, too bright, too irritating! It feels as if the world is pounding down on you and you will go mad.
The acupuncture and self-hypnosis treatments simply shut this off. In the midst of the worst withdrawal which consisted of sweating, profound disorientation, cognitive dysfunction, memory loss, heart palpitations, surges of irritability and intense anger, the acupuncture treatment would restore a sense of peace and confidence that all of this could be overcome. Ms. Lahoz helped me see that recovery is a process and that the body knows exactly what to do to correct the imbalance.
After 10 weeks of weekly acupuncture treatments and daily self hypnosis, I could feel my whole body changing. I stopped coughing. Three months into the process I realized that my bowels had re-established healthy patterns of elimination. My joints stopped hurting, my skin was looking better. After 4 months, I tapered to monthly treatments, I no longer craved cigarettes. Six to eight months into recovery I realized that my thinking power had returned and my menstrual cycle had normalized. My lower back no longer gave me trouble. My overall outlook was greatly improved. I was amazed at how extensive the recovery was. Though chronic coughing had stopped months earlier, I could see the dark shadow of tar and nicotine in my phlegm for nearly a year. I realized that much of my earlier anxiety and depression was directly due to smoking cigarettes.
I continue to notice improvement in my health, two years after my initial visit to the East-West Clinic. I have found this process to be the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life. I am proud that with Ms. Lahoz's help I was able to overcome a substance that had controlled me since I was a teenager. I am amazed to think that for 20 years I was under the spell of a drug so wicked that it tricks you into thinking that it is actually a good idea to breathe poison into your lungs, over and over, every single day. I am ever so thankful that I have found a way to break that spell.
Ms. Randall received a total of 18 treatments from 04-02-96 to 10-28-96, a period of six months. In addition to acupuncture and hypnosis, she also eventually and gradually changed her diet to eliminate coffee, sugars and starches and increased her intake of fruits, vegetables and grains. Her energy pattern as diagnosed through the Chinese method of pulse diagnosis showed an extreme yin deficiency syndrome which explained her recurrent anxiety, depression and episodes of palpitation. This pattern was reversed and normalized with acupuncture and herbal medicine. The hypnosis tape used is titled: Smoking Cessation, A Meditation on Transformation. (Available at the East West Clinic).
The following nutrient supplements and herbal preparations were suggested in sequence to meet her needs during the six- month period of time that I was seeing her:
Colet Lahoz, LAc, MS, RN
Source: Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, December 1998
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