Holistic Approach To Stop Smoking

Holistic Approach To Stop Smoking

By: Naoki Umeda, MD • Posted on October 18, 2022

It is well known that smoking cessation (to quit smoking) has multiple health benefits. For instance, it is highly recommended for breast cancer survivors since it improves cancer survival. The first-line treatment for smoking cessation is pharmacotherapies (medications), including nicotine replacement therapy, varenicline and bupropion.

However, in recent years, an increasing number of people have been interested in non-pharmacological or “holistic” approaches. Mind-body practices, yoga and acupuncture have shown some promising data but these studies are still in preliminary phase and they are not randomized clinical trials. You can try one of them or combination of two or three as alternative therapies, but it is generally recommended to use as these holistic approaches as “add-on” or complementary therapy along with conventional pharmacotherapies to maximize the treatments’ effectiveness.

Mind-Body Practices

Mindfulness meditation

This is a practice that involves focusing or clearing your mind using a combination of mental and physical techniques. You can meditate to relax and reduce anxiety and stress. Meditation is an ancient practice that dates back thousands of years. Despite its age, this practice is common worldwide because it has benefits for brain health and overall well-being.

With the help of modern technology, researchers continue to expand their understanding of how meditation helps people and why it works. Several studies have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans to examine the effects of meditation on the areas (including a craving-related region) of the brain in smokers. Researchers found some changes of neural activity and it was considered to be related to reductions in smoking after meditation. Four randomized controlled trials revealed a significant reduction in smoking in meditation group compared to conventional therapies, but other randomized controlled trials did not.


Hypnotherapy is a state of deep relaxation and focused concentration. A trained hypnotherapist guides you into this deep state of focus and relaxation with verbal cues, repetition and imagery. When you are under hypnosis, this intense level of concentration and focus allows you to ignore ordinary distractions and be more open to guided suggestions to make changes. Several studies revealed some evidence to suggest that hypnotherapy may help smoking cessation, but their data are not definitive.


Yoga can help increase flexibility, strength and balance but also can help you feel calmer and more relaxed. There are a few studies that have shown that yoga may be helpful as an aid for smoking cessation. However, more high-quality studies are still needed to prove that yoga can help someone quit smoking. At Cleveland Clinic, we offer traditional, therapeutic and wellness methods of yoga.


Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine-based treatment that uses very thin needles inserted into the skin to stimulate specific points (“acupoints”) in the body. The goal is to relieve a health condition or symptom, such as pain, digestive issues and anxiety/depression. Although there are multiple case reports that acupuncture was effective for smoking cessation, the number of high-quality studies is limited. At Cleveland Clinic, all acupuncturists are licensed and they are happy to provide acupuncture treatment if you are interested.

To learn more information about mind-body practices, yoga and acupuncture, please contact the Department of Wellness and Preventive Medicine at (216) 448-4325, or visit

Be Strong, Be Healthy, Be in Charge!

Naoki Umeda, MD


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Naoki Umeda, MD

Dr. Naoki Umeda is a physician in the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, Department of Wellness and Preventive Medicine. In his medical practice, he sees a variety of adult patients including irritable bowel syndrome, migraine, obesity, diabetes, fatty liver, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, anxiety/depression and insomnia to provide holistic care. He also treats cancer patients to provide supportive and holistic care to improve patients’ quality of life during and after cancer treatments.

Dr. Umeda graduated from a medical school in Tokyo, Japan and completed Internal Medicine residency and Gastroenterology/Hepatology fellowship. He had additional training of transplant hepatology fellowship and GI cancer fellowship (Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN), Integrative Medicine fellowship (Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine, San Diego, CA) and Integrative Oncology scholar program (University of Michigan). Languages include English and Japanese.

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