Many of my patients end up leaving my office with ear seeds. People often ask about the tiny band aids in their ears and patients joke about getting their ear pierced. But actually, those little band aids are a form of take home acupuncture.
Auricular (ear) acupuncture involves stimulating acupuncture points in the ears. Ear seeds are an easy, non-invasive way to stimulate those points. Tiny black seeds from a Vaccaria plant are attached to adhesive and used on specific points to help with a myriad of health issues. The seeds themselves have healing properties, like helping to move blood and invigorate channels. Therefore, when applied to specific acupuncture points they will help your immune system balance and repair the body by removing blockages that cause pain and keep the body from healing optimally.
How does stimulating a point on my ear help my immune system heal my body?
Our body is full of redundant or repetitive systems so that it can survive and adapt to the world. A trained acupuncturist is able to observe these repetitions through pulses, tongues, ears, hands, feet, and many more indicators. For this discussion, we are focusing on ears. The ears mirror everything that is going on in the body at the specific time of treatment. Long standing issues manifest in the ear with the most notable visible signs. Visible blood vessels are indicative of chronic stagnation due to an injury of some sort that did not heal as well as it should have. The darker these blood vessels the more severe the stagnation. When I observe an indention on the outer ear, it tells me about some sort of underlying deficiency. When a point is swollen it shows me that there is an excess or inflammation in an area. By placing seeds on these points, it helps to bring balance to the body and allow for relief of pain.
But how does my ear tell my body to heal?
The ear is one of the most studied aspects of Chinese medicine. These studies have shown that the ear contains thousands of nerve endings most which terminate at acupuncture points. Each nerve ending connects to a nerve that goes into the brain and controls the corresponding part of the body. As an example, the point on your ear for the hip goes into the brain at the same location that controls your hip. So, by stimulating the hip point on your ear, we stimulate your brain’s hip nerve. This causes your brain to trigger a healing response to both the ear and the hip and pain is reduced.
What are ear seeds used for?
Ear seeds can be used to help treat any condition in the body. The military uses auricular acupuncture in what has been termed “battlefield acupuncture.” It is literally used in the battle field to help ease the pain from injuries until a soldier can get back to base. It is also being used in clinics to help reduce dependency on pain medications and other drugs using what is referred to as the NADA protocol. Many acupuncturists, like myself use auricular therapy to help strengthen and prolong the treatment.
I personally studied under Dr. John Hsu who was a student of Dr. Lichun Huang who is recognized as the world’s top expert in the field of auricular medicine. It’s a fascinating healing modality that is extremely effective and can be used on children and adults.