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Does it Work Wednesday

Auriculotherapy to Quit Smoking

Does it Word Wednesday
Auriculotherapy to Quit Smoking
By: Lauren Keith

The hottest new "tool" to help you quit smoking appears to be auriculotherapy.  It's accupunture for the ear.  It can be done with laser and ear stapling, but in this special Does it Work report, I examine the electrical version of this accupunture.  

"I've tried the patch, Wellbutrin, hypnotism, will power---it doesn't work," says Jody Simmons of Cape Girardeau.

Jody hopes this form of auriculotherapy will work for her. She's smoked cigarrettes for more than 30 years, but says now that she has grandkids, it's time to give up the habit. "I'm definitely motivated," she says.

Before she arrives at the Freedom Center, Jody could not smoke up to two hours before this procedure. Tina Schlosser performs the auriculotherapy on Jody.

"I'm going to take the probe and stimulate different parts of the ear," says Schlosser, pointing to a metal probe that emits high levels of electricity. Schlosser received the treatment herself about a year and half ago. She decided it works so well, she trained to do the procedures. It's now her full-time job.

"They need to want to give up smoking. This helps with the withdrawal, which scares most smokers about quitting," says Schlosser.

Here's how this supposedly works.  Tina applies a series of high-level electrical impulses to different areas of Jody's ear, it's not a laser. "We have receptors that close down because of nicotine, so this is stimulating those nerve endings and the body will start to think of itself as a nonsmoker again," says Schlosser.

People with pacemakers cannot have this procedure done because of the electricty involved. The whole process takes about 12 minutes for each ear. "It's not uncomfortable, but you know it's there.  It feels like a push pin pricking you quickly," says Jody as the procedure's being done on her left ear.

She breezes right through the treatment. "Not bad at all! Just a little tingling in my ears," she says. Now, she hopes this will be the end of her nicotine cravings and lighting up. "Take deep breaths when you have a craving. Chew gum. You just do whatever it takes to get through those moments," instructs Jody.

These directions are especially important during the first two weeks after treatment.  Tina says most clients don't need a second $100 treatment, but if they do, it's usually within the first two weeks.  She also says the key to success here is having a support system. Quitting smoking truly is quitting a habit. "Everybody in the office knows they have to stop," notes Jody.

In fact, I caught up with Jody two weeks later at the office. She works in the calling center at Big River Telephone.  This company told its employees: give up smoking this year, or pay a quarter of their own healthcare.

"First, we're for anything that improves employee's health," says Big River Telephone Manager Chris Simmons.

Rising healthcare costs also prompted the company's smoke-free mandate. There's also a business incentive for the company, too.

"Productivity. We have 16 people who work here that smoke. They're taking two (15) minute breaks. Essentially, we're talking 8 hours of someone smoking outside. So, we know if we can eliminate the smoking, we're going to see the productivity go up. Do the math--no one wants to pay someone to stand outside smoking!" says Simmons.

So, is Jody still smoking?

"I'd give it a grade 'A!" she says excitedly. 

She's smoke free, but that's not to say the last two weeks have been easy. She's replaced the cigarrettes with gum, some hard candy, and ice water----all things the Freedom Center recommends she try.

Plus, those cigarette breaks have now turned into what Jody and co-worker Rogine Colin call "sunshine breaks." The pair often take walks, as they continue on their path to living healthier lives.

"You have be willing to quit or else it will not work. If you want the help, it works," notes Rogine.

Rogine also had auriculotherapy and reports success. So do the dozen others who had the company-paid procedure. I should also note: the other four employees quit "cold turkey."  Again, the trend with the auriculotherapy.

"My perception has been, if they've made up their mind to quit smoking, auriculotherapy has been a good tool," says Big River manager Chris Simmons.

That's also what chiropractor Michael Givens says. He stresses auriculotherapy does not work, if you're not ready to quit.

"Regardless, if it's placebo effect or not, it doesn't matter. The point is: it's working. When they're motivated to quit, they're going to," says Givens.

So, I ask Jody if she thinks the auriculotherapy made her quit, or was it her personal desire to kick the habit.

"That's a tough question, but I know the auriculotherapy worked.  The biggest thing on quitting is the nicotine withdrawals. For me, that procedure took away the cravings," says Jody.

So, what's the final grade on this accupunture?  I'm not going to assign one this time.  Jody gives it an 'A,' but does it work for you?  You'll have to decide.  Since Heartland News has been airing commercials about this story, I've received several emails from viewers.  Some report success even one year after getting treatments; others say it does not work.  However, one thing is for sure:  if you're not ready to quit, this will not work for you.

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