For the growing numbers of Americans who seek help dealing with anxiety, depression and sleep disorders, centuries-old Chinese medicine provides a non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical and highly effective solution.
Auricular acupuncture, which is centered on the ears, is a particularly intriguing technique for treating a variety of symptoms related to these issues.
This form of auricular therapy has been used successfully to relieve acute and chronic pain experienced by soldiers and veterans. Called “battlefield acupuncture,” it’s been studied extensively by the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration medical centers, with proven results in reducing back, musculoskeletal, neuropathic and headache pain.
Similar to other forms of acupuncture, auricular therapy focuses on how areas of the body are connected through pathways called meridians or channels.
“For instance, massaging a specific area of your temple can eliminate a migraine,” said Denise Demback, LAC, an experienced local acupuncturist. “We have found that stimulating certain areas within your ear can alleviate a number of ailments.”
Unlike other acupuncture therapy, ear seeds - small gold buttons or tacks placed within the ear – can remain in place for several weeks, supplying a constant, ongoing source of relief. In addition, inserting the ear seeds is a quick and convenient process, with no need to disrobe or lie down for an extended period of time, making it easier for patients to consider. In fact, the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association protocol used by practitioners for both emergency response and community wellness calls for insertion of ear seeds while the patient is standing.
Patients who are experiencing severe anxiety, depression or other mental health issues may want to consult with their healthcare provider about ear acupuncture as a way to relieve symptoms and improve overall well-being.
Be wary, however, of doing it yourself by purchasing ear seeds online and placing them in your ears. It’s best to see a trained acupuncturist or an AcuDetox specialist licensed to perform the NADA protocol in the state of Delaware.
Ear acupuncture focuses on these five areas, shown to be connected to other pathways in the body:
1: Sympathetic, located along the outer edge of the ear, is connected to the stress response. Acupuncture releases spasms and dilates blood vessels, helping balance the autonomic nervous system, which controls breathing, heartbeat and digestive processes.
2: Shen Men, an oval-shaped depression inside the upper ear, is also known as the spirit gate. Acupuncture in this area is believed to anchor the spirit and calm the mind, used to help patients deal with insomnia, pain management, hyperactivity, high blood pressure, fear and panic attacks.
3. Kidney, in the ear’s center, is known as the water element, and is at the root of Chinese medicine’s yin and yang balance for optimal health. Acupuncture in this area, thought to control the essence of graceful aging, can help strengthen lower legs, spine and bone marrow, improve digestion and fertility, and more. It is also used to help calm fear, paranoia and mistrust, and boost confidence.
4. Liver. Found along the ridge inside the ear, the wooden element is connected to regulating blood flow. Acupuncture provides relief for metabolic functions, such as nourishing the liver, ligaments, skin, nails and hair, and helping regulate menstruation, sleep, mood, and digestion. Stimulating this area with acupuncture is also helpful in dealing with emotions of anger, violence, frustration or depression.
5. Lung. The area on the lower side of the ear ridge, known as the metal element, controls respiration and functions of the skin. Acupuncture is associated with clearing up imbalances of apathy, lethargy, lack of inspiration and grief.
Dr. Uday Jani treats the whole patient using an integrative medicine approach at Shore View Personal Care, a concierge practice on Route 9 near Milton. He is board-certified in internal medicine and fellowship trained in integrative medicine. For more information, call 302-684-0990 or go to www.udayjanimd.com.
Denise Demback, a licensed acupuncturist and diplomate of Oriental medicine, has been in practice since 2002. A graduate of the Maryland Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine, she is nationally board certified in both acupuncture and Chinese herbs. For more information, call 410-241-7467 or go to www.activelifeacupuncture.com.