Besides the functions of hearing and balance, in Chinese medicine, the importance of the ear is huge. It’s an amazing part of the body internally, externally in its different visual configurations, as well as being an erogenous zone for some. If you imagine an ear upside down, you will see a picture of a fetus so that the bottom, now top, of the ear, corresponds to the head and the upper ear, now bottom, to the feet. You can extrapolate and place all the body parts into a picture of the ear upside down. Oriental medicine associates the ear, because of its resemblance to the fetus, with the “pre-natal Jing” (pre-natal Essence). The ear communicates with the entire body therapeutically. This is the basis for a branch of acupuncture called auricular therapy that may be used for many conditions: localized and general pains, weakness in organ systems, etc.
One area where excellent results are achieved is in the treatment of addictions. Nicotine, alcohol, and even hard drug addictions related to heroin, cocaine, or pharmaceuticals such as Vicodin can respond quite well to auricular therapy. Perhaps this is due to the stimulation of the release of endorphins that appears to occur with this kind of treatment. It may be, however, that success in this area is due to auricular acupuncture’s association with the pre-natal Jing as spoken of earlier. Pre-natal can be related to what western medicine calls genetic predisposition. Some seem more vulnerable to addictive behavior than others. A habit can be almost nothing to some, just a minor inconvenience; while to others, it can ruin their lives. The Oriental medical approach addresses this at the prenatal level. Either way, we have seen the effect to be quite profound, often giving the patient a chance to move along a little more freely in the life experience without the burden of long-term albatrosses.
To lengthen stimulation of the ear points, a tack may be inserted and taped in place for a week, or even longer in some cases. This is a common treatment for the cessation of smoking. One point used corresponds to the mouth and works with the oral urge that many smokers have. Also used is a more complex staple that must be removed by the practitioner. We have preferred a tack because it is easier for the recipient to monitor for infection. It is important to keep the site clean, and that is not always easy because of the tape. The point can actually move around, and it is common that a tack will need to be moved by the practitioner if stimulation at the old point decreases. The standard disclaimer here is that habits are very personal and that there are generally no magic bullets. The individual must have a sincere desire to move on from the habit. Without that, most probably, change will be very difficult.
Ear acupuncture offers another way to benefit from the principles of Chinese medicine because it addresses specific organs, structures, and functions. Ear points are often add-on points to make treatment more specific. The response to an ear point can be instantaneous and therefore most helpful with quick pain relief. This will leave you smiling from ear to ear.
This is a re-post from August 1, 2006 at 12:56 PM