Auricular Acupuncture

Auricular acupuncture: ever heard of it? Acupuncture is a well known practice to many, but depending on where the acupuncture is directed depends on what kind of awesome holistic relief the patient will receive. We asked a professional to help explain things a little clearer.

Allison Millar, a licensed acupuncturist with a practice right here in Keene, helped explain the process of acupuncture in general, as well as auricular acupuncture in particular. Millar, a Fitzwilliam native, received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Northeastern University, and was a Pediatric Medical Assistant for five years before gravitating toward the theories of Chinese Medicine over traditional Western Medicine. Millar found that she wasn’t a huge fan of the traditional hospital setting after working in one. After receiving acupuncture treatment at a facility in Boston and noticing significant differences in her sleep patterns, general health and attitude, she dove headfirst into the 5,000-year-old world of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Millar received her Master of Science and Acupuncture at Southwest Acupuncture college in Santa Fe, NM, and hasn’t really looked back since.

Basic Balance, located right here in Keene, was founded by Millar back in 2016. Her goal is to provide pain relief, emotional well-being, and improved health for her patients through acupuncture and other forms of TCM. The five branches of TCM include Nutrition, Massage, Exercise, Acupuncture, and Chinese Herbs – all of which Millar incorporates into her practice. The surge of folks exploring the holistic medicine has been extremely beneficial to Millar: although she is currently not accepting new patients, she recently hired a new associate to help out with the caseloads and plans to open up her availability soon.

Millar explained that auriculotherapy is regarded as an integrative medical practice used to treat or diagnose health issues throughout the body through the process of needles, seeding, and sometimes electrical stimulation of the surface of ear reflex points. Doing so can improve the flow of energy within the body, ultimately alleviating pain and regulating the body’s functions and internal organs. Most of the pressure points known for combating pain can be found in the ear. Licensed acupuncturists tend to think of the ear as a roadmap for the rest of the body and use auricular acupuncture as a way to activate these points in order to rectify certain disparities throughout the body.

“The ears are an effective system because of how close they are to your brain,” Millar explained. “The ear is one of the first organs to form off of the brain when in utero, so the connection between your brain and your ear is really strong.”

As with any type of practiced acupuncture, hair-thin, solid needles are inserted between the cells, stimulating certain pressure points in the ear. However, ear acupuncture can also be performed with heat, magnetic balls, or finger pressure. Millar said that even a grain of rice with some adhesive would do – as long as the pressure point stays stimulated. While acupuncture needles remain in the ear for around 30 minutes, the ear seeds can last on the ear for about a week, with patients rubbing those pressure points as needed. Patients notice a difference almost immediately.

Because the ear is such a sensitive and universal spot for stimulation throughout the body, Millar noted that certain ear piercings can have serious effects, depending on where the piercing is. Millar explained that although the ear lobes have little energetic effect, other spots like the tragus or the top of the ear are more sensitive, and the scar tissue build up from piercings in these areas can be draining, ultimately disrupting the natural energy flow throughout the body. Silver, she said, is also known for reflecting that energetic flow, and can be problematic to some, as well.

Depending on the point stimulated, auricular acupuncture is used by TCM practitioners as well as military personnel and nurses to treat a variety of conditions, including (but not limited to):

Anxiety

Insomnia

Chronic pain

Substance addiction

Headaches and migraines

For those who may want to try out some at home remedies, Millar recommends self-massage on the ear or the use of essential oils (eucalyptus with pine or peppermint helps with energy levels, lavender helps with relaxation, etc.) Millar also recommended the process of bloodletting – a technique where the tip of the ear is pierced with a lancet, allowing the body to release built up energy that has nowhere to go. Folks with anxiety, insomnia or even high blood pressure might find this technique helpful.

Societally speaking, medical technology and innovations have been instrumental in our growth and development. However, it is always good to be reminded to go back to our roots and use the body for what it has always been good for – healing itself. Who would have thought that our ears could help heal us, emotionally and otherwise?

“Of all the microsystems,” Millar explained, “the ear can be a stand-alone treatment: that’s how powerful it is.”