When you think of Chinese medicine, what comes to mind is usually acupuncture needles?or maybe strangely named herbs. But what about your ears? Although It’s not common knowledge, our ears are viewed as unique in traditional Chinese medicine. This is because their surface holds a myriad of energetic points, each of which represents one of our body’s organs or systems. Surprised? Read on to discover how an understanding of your ears can help your overall well-being.
Every organ in the body, and nearly all aspects of the musculo-skeletal system have been correlated with a specific point on the ear. Stimulating (pressing) specific points targets corresponding body parts; for example, stimulating the forehead point may reduce frontal headache pain.
Possibly my favourite energetic point on the ear is shen men, also known as the ?grounding point.? The word ?grounding? in this sense refers to re-centering ourselves, bringing us back into the present moment. It’s easy to become so caught up in working or studying that we don’t even notice the sun shining in our window, or our body’s thirst for a drink of water. Likewise, if we’re under stress (and which of us isn’t?), we lose the ability to enjoy life as it passes by. Stimulating the shen men point enables us to experience mental relaxation, even if only for a temporary period.
But the ear is tiny, and our body systems and parts so many. The points do indeed fit on the ear, but It’s crowded, and stimulating these points can be a challenge to someone who’s not trained in acupuncture methods.
How are these fascinating points in the ears stimulated? Since acupuncture needles can cause pain due to the ear’s lack of adequate muscle (as contrasted to the painlessness of acupuncture on the rest of the body), practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine usually use ear seeds. Ear seeds are exactly what they sound like: tiny vaccaria seeds placed over the intended ear point and held in place by a minute band-aid. Pressure on this seed stimulates the point through acupressure.
Can you stimulate the points yourself without ear seeds? Certainly. It’s difficult, since the points on the ear are minute and many, and the ball of your stimulating finger is large, but It’s not harmful to try. A caution, though: don’t use any sharp object (like a pen) to press the point you’d like.
Seeds vs. needles
If the ears are a gateway to bodily health, then why not use ear seeds rather than regular acupuncture and needling? Although ear seeds can be powerful in some aspects, full acupuncture treatment does yield the best results, since the ear points tend to be organ-specific (for example, one might stimulate stomach function), while many of the points on the main body are condition-specific (for example, clearing stomach heat or tonifying blood). In practice I usually use a combination of ear seeds and traditional acupuncture points on the body.
If you’d like to learn more about ear points or try ear seeds, check out this map of acupuncture points and ask your natural health practitioner if ear seeding is right for you.
Katie D?Souza is an AU graduate and a licensed naturopathic doctor. She currently practices in Ontario.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for personal interest only; it is not intended for diagnosis or treatment of any condition. Readers are always encouraged to seek the professional advice of a licensed physician or qualified health care practitioner for personal health or medical conditions.