By Laurel House, Planet Green
More than a display case to show off your favorite pair of chandelier earrings, your ear lobe, and the many crevices that make up the visible area of the ear, is actually a useful body part. As the foot is to reflexology, the ear is the gateway to the body according to the principles of ear acupuncture, or auriculotherapy. But needles needn’t be used to get effects.
What Are Ear Seeds?
Ear “seeds” seem to be the acupuncture treatment du’jour. This prick-less form of needling doesn’t leave you with a back covered in bruises like cupping or a connect-the-dots of acupuncture punctures, yet it can be equally effective. Little stainless steel beads or seeds from the Vaccaria plant are placed and taped (with clear tape) on acupressure points along the ear – the same points used for ear acupuncture. They are left in the ear for several days and it is suggested that the patient press them when feeling pain, anxiety, jet lag, or whatever their ailment, for immediate relief. After 3 or 4 days have passed, simply lift the tape and the seeds are removed.
A 4,000 Year Old Cure
In the 1950s, French neurologist Paul Nogier, MD, found that by stimulating certain parts of the ear, symptoms and ailments experienced in other areas of the body were relieved, thus birthing the practice of modern auriculotherapy. But this wasn’t the first time that the correlation between the ear and the organs of the body was discovered. Four thousand years ago, ancient Oriental physicians used ear acupuncture to alleviate a menagerie of medical conditions. Chinese acupuncturists took a particular interest in Dr. Nogier’s study and, in 1960 the Nanking Army Ear Acupuncture Research Team conducted their own studies on over 2,000 patients, verifying and expanding on Dr. Nogier’s findings.
According to Douglas Eisenstark L.Ac., a teacher and acupuncture practitioner in Santa Monica, California, “ear seed and auricular therapy is based on the same ideas of acupuncture, taichi and other Asian medical concepts. The idea, at its most basic, is that qi, a communication method of energy, passes all through the body and indeed throughout the universe. By directing this qi we can achieve positive effects in creating more balance in the body.”
Asian medical practitioners follow the principles that pain, disease, and dysfunction is caused from congestion or blockage of qi. It is believed that by stimulating acupuncture points, the normal flow of qi is returned and health regained.
New Research Proves The Old Cure Works!
Researchers at UCLA studied the ear and its use as, what Douglas refers to as, a microsystem for the body – a small location that represents the whole. A controlled, double-blind study revealed the presence of musculoskeletal pain, such as pain from a back injury or fractured bone, could be determined by examining the ear. Auricular points that corresponded with the particular areas of the body where pain was present, were tender compared with surrounding, unrelated areas of the ear. Research has been done on specific ailments and disease and has been shown to be effective in the treatment of addiction, chronic pain (including myofascial, joint, neuropathic, and sciatic) and when used as anesthesia during dental visits.
Any acupuncturist worth his needles can apply ear seeds. And, since needles are not necessarily used (though some acupuncturists tape down tiny needles instead of seeds), you can actually elicit some of the same effects simply by referring to the ear chart and rubbing the points yourself. Ear seeds are a perfectly safe, effective and discreet mode to maintain health and stay balanced.