Acupuncture is frequently used for smoking cessation. Positive results from uncontrolled studies have not been supported by meta-analysis of controlled trials. One possible reason for this is that the optimal acupuncture technique was not applied or that the technique was not repeated sufficiently often.
A randomized, sham-controlled trial was performed with 2 parallel treatment arms; the participant and the evaluator were unaware of which treatment was received. Seventy-six adults who wanted to stop smoking received either 100-Hz electroacupuncture with needles inserted into the appropriate point in each ear or a sham control procedure over the mastoid bone. Interventions were given on days 1, 3, and 7 of smoking cessation. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms were measured by visual analog scale scores recorded in a daily diary for 14 days; smoking cessation was confirmed objectively.
There was no significant difference between the mean reduction of withdrawal symptom scores of the 2 groups from day 1 to day 14. Fifteen participants (39%) who received electroacupuncture and 16 participants (42%) who received a sham procedure were abstinent on day 14.
This form of electroacupuncture is no more effective than placebo in reducing nicotine withdrawal symptoms.