Lend me your ear…no really July 13, 2015
By Jorge Mejia AP, DOM
How many times have we heard the phrase “it’s all connected…?” If you stopped to really ponder this notion it can be overwhelming to think about how physically we are made up of the same stuffs as stars and that the molecules we inhale and exhale will be inhaled and exhaled by everyone around us and eventually on the other side of the planet! But without going down a philosophical rabbit hole I’d like to explore some ideas that may help demonstrate a simple way to connect on a deeper level to our own health. Strangely enough it starts with the cartilaginous appendage (say it out loud, it’s fun) located on the side of our heads…yup, our ears.
Think of the ear as a small switchboard that is in close proximity to the brain and by which we can access the body’s energy pathways, mojo, genes, spirit and, in a sense, affect the entire body. The ears are thought of as a micro system, or microcosm (small universe) by which we can influence the larger, macrocosm (the body). From this point of view the ear looks like more than just a fleshy piece of cartilage doesn’t it?
Way before Van Gough made the ear emo or cool the Chinese and even the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans were using auricular (external ear) therapy to treat a ton of different conditions. In the 1950’s French physician Dr. Paul Nogier began treating the ears of patients using an ancient cauterization technique and was amazed to note the positive effects this had on patients with stubborn cases of sciatica. He later developed a map of the ear based on the concept of an inverted fetus. This concept would change the way auriculotherapy was used and continues to be used. Ear acupuncture represents a fusion of thousands of years of traditional medical knowledge and conventional medical innovation, which is a great example of the present connecting with the historical past.
The way we use the ear clinically is by looking for irregularities: flaky skin, discolorations and tenderness in certain areas of the auricle that correspond to a patient’s condition. Using these factors and the inverted fetus map as a guide we are able to locate the right points for the patient. Points that correspond to the head are located on and around the lobe; points that correspond to the feet are located near the top of the ear and internal organs in the middle. By inserting thin, sterile needles into specific points in targeted areas on the ear we can facilitate the body’s own ability to self regulate, balance itself out and heal.
One of the great things about using the ear in treatment is that it is easily accessible and we can use it to treat many issues as well as many patients at once. Ear acupuncture can be used as a stand alone treatment modality or in conjunction with full body acupuncture to treat a variety of conditions from fertility, pain, addiction, depression to tinnitus to name a few. Because of its wide application it is currently being used by the US military in wartime battlegrounds, prisons, treatment facilities, hospitals and natural disaster zones.
For the past year and a half Maggie and I have been using ear acupuncture in our free veteran’s acupuncture clinic and it happens to be one of the most rewarding experiences for us as practitioners. It has allowed for us to connect with our community and has helped those in need of relief connect to a more natural approach to healing.
So if you want to connect to a deeper sense of well being or maybe you are just on the fence about trying acupuncture, I’d say an auricular treatment would be a good place to start. At $15 per session during our Community day on Wednesdays it is well worth the immediate benefits and the potentially profound results you may experience. So when you’re ready, come on in and lend us an ear!!1