How to be a quitter – Smoking cessation with the NADA protocol


We are now only a few weeks away from the summer solstice or midsummer (also known as Litha in the Pagan religion).  This will be the official first day of summer and the longest day of the year.  Many cultures in the Northern hemisphere celebrate this day with some type of ritual.  In southern England, thousands of people gather at Stonehenge to see the sunrise from the vantage point of the center of the stone circle.  In many ancient and current cultures, a Sun God is worshipped, and fire is a treasured element used in these rituals.  As explained in the previous blog, summer in Chinese medicine correlates with the element of Fire.  Fire is a very transformative element, as an object becomes something else entirely once it has been burned.

With summer upon us, and the changing of the seasons, so is an opportunity to make a transformation within, to light your own inner-fire.  What better time to kick your “butts” to the curb than during the season of transformation? Have you been thinking about quitting smoking, but can’t find the tools to help along the way?   Or maybe you hadn’t thought about quitting, because the thought of giving up a habit so physically and emotionally tied to your being is just plain scary.  Or perhaps you have tried quitting in the past but were disheartened by intense withdrawal symptoms or subsequent weight gain.  It’s true, quitting is no easy feat but the good news is that it may be easier than you thought possible.  Because we at Forever Able Wellness can help you with acupuncture!

While acupuncture has been used for millennia to treat pain and disease, its use in the treatment of drug and alcohol dependency is relatively recent.  In 1972, Hong Kong neurosurgeon H.L. Wen, MD, found that acupuncture effectively reduced withdrawal symptoms, and since then it has been used with increasing frequency in healthcare settings worldwide for drug detoxification.  Beyond that, Dr. Michael Smith developed a five-point auricular protocol for addiction at the Lincoln Memorial Hospital in New York.  This protocol was so effective that it lead to the formation of the National Acupuncture Detox Association (NADA) in 1985, which was established to promote education and training of clinicians in the use of the NADA protocol.

The NADA protocol consists of inserting small, sterile, disposable needles into five designated points of the outer ear.  The points are called Shen Men, Sympathetic, Kidney, Liver, and Lung.  Shen Men and Sympathetic both calm the nervous system and promote relaxation.  Kidney is used to address underlying psychological causes for addiction.  Additionally, in Chinese medicine the Kidney relates to our will (Zhi), therefore stimulation of this point may strengthen one’s will-power to battle an addiction.  The Liver is responsible for controlling the free movement of Qi (energy) throughout the body.  When the Qi does not flow properly, it becomes obstructed, resulting in emotional stress. The Lung is the primary organ affected by smoking.  Once the needles are inserted, they are retained for around 30 minutes, allowing the patient to fully relax and for the body to accept the effects of the treatment.  NADA recommends that the protocol be used as a supportive therapy in conjunction with other modalities of treatment such as counseling and/or support groups.

The NADA protocol has proven to be hugely effective for all types of drug and alcohol dependence.  “Among the benefits reported by patients and clinicians are improved program retention, a more optimistic and cooperative attitude toward the process of recovery, as well as reductions in cravings, anxiety, sleep disturbance and need for pharmaceuticals.” (NADA)


Facts about the NADA protocol:

Quick: It only takes a minute or two to insert all of the needles.

Generally painless: Needles are small, short, and hair-fine.  Many people feel a small prick initially but most report feeling nothing once needles have been inserted.

Effective: We recommend a series of daily treatments for one week followed by weekly maintenance visits to increase effectiveness and reduce cravings.

Inexpensive: Because we perform the NADA protocol in a community setting, treatments can be offered at a  reduced rate.

If you are interested in taking advantage of this unique treatment protocol to help quit smoking, please review our smoking cessation program or call 219-2400 for more information.


Written by: Lauren Phillips, L.Ac.