by Walter Last
Ear acupuncture can be a very effective method for relieving acute pains and chronically stiff joints, sometimes these have been cured within minutes. For some problems it can be more effective than body acupuncture. Ear acupuncture is easy and safe for self-treatment and in healing groups. Organ diseases and glandular disturbances may respond less dramatically, but ear needling will always be very helpful as a supportive method with other forms of treatment.
The main disadvantage of ear acupuncture is the requirement to find the most painful spot for it to be fully effective, and this is not pleasant for people who are very sensitive to pain. The best points are those that feel like an electric shock or like hitting a raw nerve! However, often the pain will be felt as being beneficial, especially because it usually decreases with continued needling. This pain may be considered as 'letting off steam' or congestive energy from a target organ through the 'safety valve' of an ear point. However, chronically weak organs may also benefit from ear needling if no pain is felt in the corresponding ear point. Generally, however, you may follow the rule 'The more sore the point, the more effective the treatment’.
Acupuncture needles are available from some medical-equipment shops, acupuncturists or from acupuncture supply companies, see the Yellow Pages of major cities for addresses. For ear acupuncture use short and medium fine needles (e.g. 25 mm No. 30 gauge or the finer 12mm long 32 gauge. Usually you buy them in packs of 10. In addition press-needles are very effective and may also be ordered in packets of 10. Press-needles are like tiny drawing pins with a 2 mm-long needle. They are retained in the ear for one to two weeks, covered with adhesive tape, and stimulated from time to time by pressing between thumb and a finger pad. If an acupuncture needle is not available, you may use a bead needle or even a fine sewing needle.
Sterilise a suitable needle in methylated spirits and rub the ear with a cotton bud soaked in methylated spirits (optional). Find the most tender spot in the appropriate reflex area of the ear by pressing with a toothpick or a similar probe. Insert the needle to about 2 mm deep. It must not pass through the ear. Gently move it around to find the correct depth and direction of the sorest spot.
If it is very sore, do not move the needle. When the pain subsides, start to twirl it gently between thumb and forefinger. The less pain there is, the faster you may twirl the needle. If it is not sore any more, move the needle to a different angle and twirl, and in this way gradually work around in a circle. If all or most of the pain is worked out, withdraw the needle and select another point. If it was sorer in a particular direction, insert the needle at a point 1-2 mm away from the first point in that direction and repeat the twirling and probing in different directions.
Often the pain shifts around over a reflex area and you must insert the needle and work out the pain in several points lying close together. When the ear point is sore and still in need of treatment, the needle will feel like 'sticking' when it is twirled, while it will move freely when the tension is worked out. For treating chronically weak body parts that do not have sore ear points, select the appropriate point or area from the ear chart and twirl the needle rapidly.
CHART OF EAR REFLEX POINTS
Helix points may be used to reduce inflammation, fever, swellings. Sanjiao is used for circulatory, glandular, chest and abdominal problems. Shenmen is used for sedating, as with nervous problems, insomnia, mental disorders; it is the main point for pain relief, as in arthritis or inflammations; also for dry cough, bronchial asthma, epilepsy and hypertension.
Each ear contains a complete reflex map of the body as shown in the chart. Instead of using needles, you may press the ear with the head of a pin, a toothpick, a matchstick or a fingernail. Treat the indicated organ points or wherever there is a tender spot; press for a minute or more each day or whenever convenient. In addition, it will be very stimulating to the whole body to massage both ears thoroughly by rubbing them between thumb and index finger simultaneously. Massage daily. Pulling the ears at different angles is also beneficial. You may also buy an electro-acupuncture appliance. These are now available from many health food shops and not very expensive.