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J Am Board Fam Med. 2013 Jan-Feb;26(1):61-70. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2013.01.120157.

The efficacy of auriculotherapy for smoking cessation: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

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Veteran's Administration and Department of Psychiatry, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63106, USA.



Quitting smoking remains a challenge for almost one-third of the military veteran population. Alternatives to pharmacological therapies such as acupuncture, acupressure, and electrical stimulation have received minimal attention in research but have been widely reported to be popular and safe interventions for smoking cessation.


This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 125 veterans was conducted to determine whether aural electrical stimulation (auriculotherapy) once a week for 5 consecutive weeks is associated with a higher rate of smoking abstinence are than observed with sham stimulation.


Auriculotherapy was found to be safe and largely free from significant side effects. However, there was no difference in the rate of smoking cessation between those participants who received true auriculotherapy and those who received sham auriculotherapy. The auriculotherapy group achieved a rate of 20.9% abstinence versus 17.9% for the placebo arm after 6 weeks.


The results of this randomized, controlled clinical trial do not support the use of auriculotherapy to assist with smoking cessation. It is possible that a longer treatment duration, more frequent sessions, or other modifications of the intervention protocol used in this study may result in a different outcome. However, based on the results of this study, there is no evidence that auriculotherapy is superior to placebo when offered once a week for 5 weeks, as described in previous uncontrolled studies.

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