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Auriculotherapy: Immunity’s New BFF?

By Kaitlyn Bader —

Though acupuncture is a relatively new procedure in America, established here in the 1970’s when Nixon returned from his 1972 trip to China, its practitioners and patients are growing by the day.  Particularly now, when one in every ten Americans develops an autoimmune disease, acupuncture is a helpful way to manage symptoms.   Director of the YinOva Center of NYC for alternative therapies, Jill Blakeway, describes acupuncture to ABC News as “particularly good for treating chronic long-term imbalances like arthritis, irritable bowel, asthma, allergies and hormonal imbalances that cause infertility.”

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM),  the human body flows with energy called “qi”. When “qi” becomes blocked or stagnant, illness results. By inserting needles into pressure points, acupuncture can unblock “qi” through these channels, balancing the qi–and the mind and body–in the process.

Auriculotherapy acupuncture follows a similar method to that of TCM acupuncture, utilizing points of contact on the ear to access other parts of the body.  These points are generally mapped by viewing the shape of the inner ear as an upside-down infant; the points for the left and right eyes are near the ear lope, whereas the point for the lower back is at the top of the ear.  A probe is often used to brush the ear so that the practitioner can feel areas of abnormal texture, and the patient can give feedback about areas of discomfort, indicating the need for detoxification.  Based on this feedback, the practitioner will decide which points to stimulate.  Using a small lancet, not unlike those diabetics use daily to test their blood sugar, the practitioner punctures the selected points, allowing blood to drain on its own, then massaging it out of areas in which the flow has stopped.

One of the benefits of auriculotherapy is that more intense symptoms like headache, fever, sore throat, or back pain, will disappear immediately.  The practitioner dialogues with the patient as to how the symptoms are improving to compare their ear bleeding notes with those of the patient’s.  If pain continues to linger, sometimes more points are opened with the lancet, to allow more toxins to exit the body.  As the blood drains, the practitioner constantly swipes the patient’s ear with cotton balls soaked in isopropyl alcohol to keep the area disinfected and promote a clear blood flow.

If the thought of blood still wigs you out, auriculotherapy, like acupuncture, can still be practiced without puncturing the skin.  In this case, seeds instead of needles are pressed into specific points and held there with tape, sometimes for days or weeks at a time.  Tiny acupuncture needles can also be inserted into these points to complement an acupuncture treatment or as a treatment of its own.  Afterwards, affixing metal beads to these pressure points has become a trend, as seen on celebrities like Penelope Cruz who practice acupuncture and auriculotherapy.  Patients of all methods are told to massage the points regularly for optimal results.

For those who have never contemplated alternative medicine, manipulating an ear to cause a chain reaction in another body part  sounds kooky.  But, consider this—the ears have long been accepted as an erogenous zone, or a part of the body that when stimulated leads to (genital) arousal.  Western medicine also observes that the vestibular system (aka: inner ear) regulates the ability for the feet to balance the body—any inner ear problems, and you can’t walk straight.   Before dismissing its very non- Western philosophy, consider that  acupuncture–with its over 4,500 years of practice, might have accurately mapped energy vortexes within the human body.

Stricken with a sweltering summer fever, I headed to my acupuncturist’s office to see if she could accelerate my healing and relieve discomfort.  After determining that this was a fever brought on by too much sun, she offered auriculotherapy.  I winced when she explained that she would be draining small amounts of blood from my ear, yet hardly felt anything when she did it.  As I put my shoes on a few minutes later, I realized how calm and relaxed I felt.  And, when I got home fifteen minutes later, I took my temperature to reveal a perfect 98.6°.

Whether you regularly attend acupuncture appointments, or are curious about treating longstanding symptoms alternatively, consider auriculotherapy.  The only thing you have to lose is your discomfort–and fast!

As with all services requiring licensure, please be sure to check for state licensure before accepting an acupuncture treatment. And don’t forget to check with your physician. Check out a video of auriculotherapy below:

 

 

 

Kaitlyn Bader-Autoimmune Ally

 

 

Video Source- You Tube 

Sources 

  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2206232/
  • http://www.paradigm-pubs.com/sites/www.paradigm-pubs.com/files/active/0/ModChiEarAcu_E.pdf
  •  http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/acupuncture
  • http://vestibular.org/node/2
  • http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/4736/acupuncture
  • http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2013/01/24/penelope-cruz-sports-acupuncture-beads/

 

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