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WHAT IS AURICULAR ACUPUNCTURE?
When you walk into my office the one thing that is most commonly commented on is the giant poster of an ear on my wall. Usually the first comment is “wow, there are a lot of points on there!” The ear is a microsystem of the body. The points are located on the ear based around an image of an upside down fetus, with the head staring at the lobe and then the spine and limbs wrapping around and the internal organ in the center.
This in itself I think is incredible, but what an auricular acupuncture treatment can do is even more amazing. Often I use auricular acupuncture in conjunction with body points, but it can be used as a primary treatment. The main way I use auricular acupuncture though is as a continuation of the treatment. I place the ear seeds on specific points at the end of the session and the patients can then stimulate the points in between our treatments. This helps carry on the effects of the session and gives the patients control in their own healing process. Something that I feel is very powerful!
WHAT CAN AURICULAR ACUPUNCTURE TREAT?
The short answer to this is everything! Auricular acupuncture has been proven to be a great way to treat a variety of conditions, ranging from, addiction, pain, headaches, and allergies. It is said to hold all of the body acupuncture points and then some! So going back to the initial comments of people walking through my office doors, Yes! It is a lot of points!
The points are chosen in the same way we chose body points in TCM, but the ear also contains points that are used based on Western medical concepts. Once a set of points is chosen the ear is then examined and the points are pressed on to see if they are tender or active. The physical look of the ear can also be used to choose points and to diagnosis. When we use the ear this way we are looking for the texture, color, and veins around the ear.
After the points are selected, either ear seeds of small needles are used to stimulate the points. The signal is then sent from the ear to the brain, and then to the corresponding body part. Some patients will feel immediate relief with the use of ear acupuncture, while others it take a few days to feel the full effects.
Auricular acupuncture is used most as a stand alone treatment in community acupuncture settings, or disaster settings, where you are trying to treat as many people as quickly as possible. NADA (National Acupuncture Detox Association) is the most common ear acupuncture protocol utilized and is a quick and effective way to treat, stress, anger, depression, pain, and addictions.
CAN AURICULAR ACUPUNCTURE BENEFIT YOU?
Most likely yes, but I do have patients where auricular acupuncture is too strong for them, and they prefer body needles instead. The seeds can be triggered while sleeping if you roll onto the side that they are on, and if you have a more sensitive ear this can be more painful then helpful. Also, I have had patients say that they feel like they just have too much energy moving through them with the ear seeds, which makes it hard to relax.
I personally love ear seeds though and often use them as a way to give myself a quick treatment, generally for pain or allergies. And I have patients who swear by them and love to use them between every treatment!
The only way to find out if auricular acupuncture is right for you though is to give it a try! What is great is if you don't love them the way I do you can always just take the ear seeds out and throw them away, there is no need to come in to get them removed since the seeds do not enter the body the way needles do!