Zapping your cigarette craving with laser

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Billy and Sally (names withheld upon request) tried the gum, the patch and sheer will power. None kept them off cigarettes for the long haul. So they decided to give the latest high-tech weapon against nicotine addiction–the laser—a try.

Billy, a 38-year-old electrician, and Sally, a 28-year-old call center agent, were among the first in the country—and in the Asia-Pacific region—to try a method that employ “cold” laser therapy to help kick the habit. Billy and Sally, who used to smoke since high school 10 and 12 sticks a day, respectively, took the laser treatment early this year. After the second and final “booster” sessions, both attested they no longer miss cigarettes at all.

Mack Benauro, owner and certified laser therapist of Anne Penman Laser Therapy Manila (annepenmanlasertherapymla@gmail.com), explained the procedure: A “cold” laser pulses low levels of energy at several points on the hands, nose, ears and wrists. Each point is targeted for 60 seconds, and the procedure is painless.

These points correspond to energy centers used in acupuncture and acupressure to ease cravings and elevate mood. In addition to the laser, clients also receive supportive counseling. Included are ideas on what to do instead of having a cigarette when craving strikes, as well as stress management and relaxation techniques.

The Anne Penman Laser Therapy Manila, located at Studio Two Building, Northgate Cyberzone, Filinvest Corporate City in Alabang, is part of a worldwide franchise based in Scotland (United Kingdom), where its founder pioneered the therapy.

Principle

She said the principle behind the Anne Penman Laser Therapy (APLT) Smoking Cessation program is that when an individual stops smoking, his/her endorphin level suddenly drops, which has been identified as the cause of withdrawal symptoms, both physical and mental. Endorphins are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, and when they are released or stimulated, an individual’s mood is boosted naturally.

Benauro explained: “When using the APLT Smoking Cessation program, clients experience no sensation of heat but actually a soothing feeling of well-being. They enter a phase of deep relaxation and circulation is activated. This process generates natural endorphins that bind to nicotine receptors, and the ‘saturation’ of these receptors exponentially reduces withdrawal symptoms to a minimum level.”

Nonintrusive

She said the laser employed at the APLT Manila is safe, pain-free, drug-free and nonintrusive.

Unlike most industrial and surgical lasers, cold lasers are not used for cutting or to heat up tissues.

Since cold lasers employ certain wavelengths of light, it has been proven to relieve pain, assist regeneration of nerves, stimulate acupuncture meridians, and as Anne Penman found, remove addictions, particularly smoking.

“The laser light acts as a calming agent so that when you stop smoking, the withdrawal symptoms often associated with quitting are either greatly reduced or completely eliminated,” she explained.

The Philippines is the second largest smoking population in the Asean region (Indonesia tops the list).

More than a fifth or 17.3 million adult Filipinos are hooked on smoking. Of these, 14.6 million are males and 2.8 million are females. More alarming is the fact that one in five youth aged 13 to 15 currently smoke cigarettes.

Sessions

“Every person we treat has different needs. To maximize the success of the laser therapy, we have created a program that also include person-centered advice and backup support,” Benauro explained.

She said while most of their clients were able to stop the craving after undergoing the first session, the second and third sessions are scheduled to help with issues like stress and weight gain and help their clients maintain their new lifestyle.

The APLT Smoking Cessation program, which also include a 24/7 global helpline, cost P13,850 (the APLT also offers a four-session weight-loss program as well as four-session Chronic Stress Management).

“Anyone can stop smoking. It’s making the lifestyle change after you stop that can be difficult and our center is here to help,” Benauro assured.

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