TCM and Smoking
Philippa Harvey, our TCM Specialist, explains how tobacco affects the organism and how to overcome the addiction.
Smoking is treated like any addiction. Smoking tobacco will progressively become a pathological dependency issue. This may be physical or/ and mental. As in any addiction the characteristics of habitual use means that gradually we will have to smoke more to get the same feeling. Sadly the more quantities of nicotine we consume, the body reacts with increased blood pressure, heart rates and capillary vasoconstriction, plus emotionally mood changes come in the same package.
Addiction patterns can be seen in restlessness, discomfort, headaches, palpitations, fatigue, sleep disorders, etc. This is because nicotine, can be seen as a neurotransmitter changing the way out brain works, cutting a long chemical reaction story short, the bio-physical effect is dopamine secretion; we feel pleasure.
So, how does Traditional Chinese Medicine relate to smoking?
The key word for me is in the meaning of “SHEN” Spirit. When “Shen” is disturbed, there is an unbalanced Heart, this has heat (Emotional issues), perhaps there is Liver Fire (Anger issues) or there is a Heart-Kidney (Fear issues) disconnection. The key to any addiction is finding the root cause, not treating the symptoms. We normally start smoking when SHEN or our Spirit is not in the right place.
Naturally in TCM we see smoking as “Fire” an element with heating characteristics. Smoke comes in contact with our mouth and nose area. We associate these parts of our body with the functions of the Stomach and Lungs. Our Lungs in TCM help the body in respiration and ensures our internal organs have the right amount of liquids/ fluids to work as they should. This includes our skin and hair. As there is heat, the drying up of liquids can cause constipation, dry throat, a cough, etc. Or stomach has that feeling of closing up. Many people fear stopping smoking as they regain an appetite and may put on weight.
In TCM there are three smoking addiction patterns. Each would be treated differently:
- One is associated with dryness of Lungs and liquids. This would show as mouth and nose dryness, sore throat, dry cough, with difficult expectoration usually with thick more yellow mucus, phlegm with blood, constipation, agitation, and insomnia.
- Liver Fire will affect our spleen, we will feel down, have pains around our middle and side of our body, insomnia fatigue, no willpower.
- Heart-Kidney – we will feel more agitated, perspire , have a dry mouth , we will feel dizzy, have buzzing in our ears, our eyesight will start to deteriorate, a general weakness of lower back, insomnia and sexual issues.
In clinic, we treat smoking with acupuncture for the general symptoms of anxiety, stress, and sleeplessness. Then we treat the specific syndrome and symptoms. Usually we also use auricular therapy (around the ears). You will leave the session with some small magnets around your ear area, so that your detox treatment may continue after you leave the session.
We always recommend you drink plenty of fluids, mint tea or green tea will help detox. Physical exercise should also be in a stop smoking programme; this will get the lungs back in shape, help the detox, and give us our fix of serotonin naturally. Don´t forget to eat fresh foods to help the body find its balance again.