Cigarette smoking is a huge problem worldwide. With millions dying to smoking each year, many medical professionals and innovators have stepped forward to urge many away from a preventable health burden.
Aside from the typical smoking cessation programmes and various alternative methods of quitting already existing, quit smoking laser treatments have also become popular in the last few years.
While many motivated smokers who have gone through the treatment report reduced nicotine cravings and urges to smoke, some medical professionals find only anecdotal data and evidence to support its efficiency for anyone on a quit journey.
In today’s post, we’ll talk more about laser treatments for quitting smoking, how they work, and if they’re the best option for you.
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Understanding Quit Smoking Laser Treatments
Quit smoking laser treatments have become increasingly popular in the last few years. The technology uses the same device used for arthritis laser treatment.
Instead of pointing at aching joints, the low-level laser will point to your ears, face, hands, or wrists – areas where it is believed to help reduce your nicotine cravings via endorphin activation.
These low-level lasers are non-invasive and only have a low-intensity level, meaning there should be no pain once the lasers touch you.
What the Research Says About Quit Smoking Laser Treatments
Being targeted and hit by a low-intensity laser, even if deemed safe, feels different from being treated with a doctor’s expert hands and their use of tools, so let’s talk about the nitty-gritty of quit smoking laser treatments.
According to its innovators and service providers, the laser helps promote healing and tissue repair for patients with rheumatoid arthritis in older patients. This claim is questionable because researchers found a lack of data to support its efficacy as an arthritis treatment.
In another study, a woman treated with low-level laser light therapy for arthritis mentioned she found great relief after the therapy.
However, the study also mentioned that she was taking herbal supplements alongside the treatment, again revealing the lack of data to support its efficacy for the intended treatment.
If low-level laser treatments lack evidence for the intended treatment for arthritis, they can also lack data to support the claims that they can help you manage cravings and stop smoking for good.
Quit smoking laser treatment services mention that their lasers improve endorphin release, the natural ‘feel-good’ hormones that release when you win at something or enjoy a surprise birthday party.
While studies on mice have shown low-level laser treatment to alleviate inflammation, there is, again, a lack of data on its effects on human endorphin release.
As laser treatment clinics claim that the extended endorphin boost of 3-5 days can help motivated smokers go through their withdrawal symptoms in a quit journey, it’s something that sounds too good or quite impossible to be true without enough evidence to back it up.
Why Quit Smoking Laser Treatments Aren’t Ideal
Let’s assume for a moment that laser treatments do work for smoking cessation. Let’s say it does release endorphins for 3-5 days and helps improve tissue repair response for most rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.
It would still be very problematic because of the following reasons:
Lack of comprehensive scientific evidence: As made clear above, quit smoking laser treatment only has anecdotal data to support its claims. Even if some motivated smokers and arthritis sufferers mention relief and ease with laser treatments, more research and data are needed to learn about its possible side effects and unforeseen consequences.
Placebo effect: It’s highly likely that the perceived effectiveness of quit smoking laser treatments is just a placebo effect.
If patients are made to feel that the treatment has worked with many other people, their brain and body create a system that makes them feel better naturally. Their bodies may react by releasing more endorphins during withdrawals, even without low-level laser treatments.
Individual variability: Smoking addiction is a complex issue, and each person’s journey to quit smoking is unique. It’s the reason why GPs create custom quitting programmes based on their previous nicotine dependence, motivation, and goals.
With laser treatments, you only get the same treatments as other patients do, and that means it won’t always work for everyone.
Smoking Cessation Programmes: A More Effective Route
There’s a better way to stop smoking: going through a smoking cessation programme.
To initiate the process, you can visit your regular GP, or book a bulk-billed telehealth appointment to go through a smoking cessation programme.
The GP can create a tailor-made quit journey with your previous nicotine consumption in mind. They can also help you through behavioural therapy, counseling, and connecting you with a quit-smoking community.
Aside from these useful and proven solutions, they can also prescribe tools that can help you quit smoking for good: nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products and pharmacy nicotine vaping products (NVPs).
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)
NRT products are patches, lozenges, gums, sprays, and inhalers that introduce a small dose of nicotine to alleviate your cravings. These have been proven safe and effective for many smokers, and you can buy them from pharmacies and supermarkets.
These tools are far more effective than low-level laser therapy. While they might not release endorphins, they can alleviate your nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms via the introduction of nicotine to your system.
They’re also a great deal cheaper than a hundred-dollar treatment in a clinic with very limited guarantees.
NRT products don’t work for everyone, especially if they work in areas with heavy smokers or have strong gestural triggers, such as craving cigarettes with coffee or right after dinner.
GPs can prescribe responsible NVPs that are available to purchase through a registered pharmacy. These are different from the other illegal ‘vapes’ you can find in corner shops and the local tobacconist.
NVP products sold in pharmacies are made under stringent pharmaceutical standards on the manufacturing process and ingredients, are toxicologically assessed for inhalation, are locally insured, and are specifically designed to help you stop smoking.
With pharmacy NVPs, you can be sure you’re inhaling a tested and insured product intended for smoking cessation, and designed solely with your health in mind.
On the other hand, Illicit tobacconist vapes are imported under the radar, right alongside illicit tobacco and drugs, and are made as cheaply as possible for maximum profits. They also contain cancer-causing nickel and lead and are sold without any care for human health, including to non-smokers, teens, and children as young as 5 years old.
After you get a prescription, you can head down to your local pharmacy and purchase an NVP. Then, your GP and pharmacist will inform you on how to use and maintain the device and it’s possible side effects during first-time use.
Pharmacy NVPs have been proven more effective than NRT products.The latest Cochrane Review found high-certainty evidence that NVPs are more effective than NRT in helping people stop smoking.
These are also a great deal cheaper than low-level laser light treatments.
With a lack of evidence and only word-of-mouth to support the claims of low-level laser light therapy, it’s something that no medical professional can prescribe for smoking cessation.
Instead, it’s better to just go through a smoking cessation programme that has helped millions of people quit smoking and improve their health and quality of life for good.
If you’re looking to start on your quit journey, we can help.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to bulk-billing Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good, including using responsible vaping products where appropriate.
Click here to book your bulk-billed telehealth consultation with an Australian healthcare professional and quit smoking today.