By Sarah, Auricular Acupuncturist, Mental Health Nurse & DBT informed therapist.
Acupuncture is a technique based on traditional Chinese medicine and can be used to treat a variety of ailments. Auricular acupuncture is centred on the ears and focuses on five areas connected to pathways of the body to provide treatment for a variety of difficulties including, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, PTSD/trauma symptoms, stress and overall mental wellbeing.
The procedure itself consists of ten sterile acupuncture needles placed in areas of the ear. The neural stimulation of these areas helps to balance energy systems within the body for a reduction in symptoms. Mental health conditions such as the ones mentions above, cause imbalances in brain chemistry, the acupuncture needles stimulate nerves connected to parts of the brain to re-balance the brain chemistry.
What we know about difficulties such as trauma is they increase activity in the sympathetic nervous system resulting in release of adrenaline and cortisol known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. Continued activation of these stress hormones cause imbalances and acupuncture helps re-balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. This a reason why acupuncture is also effective to people who have used substances due to the over stimulation of certain brain chemicals which then require re-balancing.
The five ear points used in auricular acupuncture:
• Sympathetic- aids the balancing of our stress response
• Shen Men- used to help with sleep, panic and anxiety
• Kidney- for optimum mental wellbeing to provide a sense of calm and improve confidence
• Liver- supports the regulation of emotions and improve sleep
• Lung- connects to the alleviation of symptoms of depression and grief
Ideally once the needles are established in the ears a client should be seated or lying down for 40 minutes in a silent or low stimulus surrounding to support effectiveness of the treatment. Sitting in silence can be a challenging aspect of the treatment as many of us live busy lives with our minds continuously occupied; stopping and being still without the external distraction of a phone, a book or other people can feel uncomfortable, however this is great opportunity to work on sitting with discomfort and building our skills of tolerance. For others, the stillness within the treatment can be the part they most enjoy, a time to embrace our skills of observation, giving ourselves permission to pause and an opportunity for transformation.
After the removal of the needles small ear ‘seeds’ can be placed on an acupuncture point to maintain stimulation for a longer lasting effect in between sessions. Initially, a course of 6-10 treatments on a weekly basis would be recommended for an improvement in symptoms, clients can also continue to have acupuncture for further maintenance sessions for continued symptom reduction.
During my years as a practising acupuncturist, I have seen many client success stories following the treatment with effective reduction in symptoms to improve wellbeing and daily life. I have provided acupuncture to clients who carried a healthy scepticism about its efficacy at the beginning of treatment who have become returning clients week after week.
For people local to the Coventry, West Midlands and surrounding areas, Good Thinking Psychological Services offer auricular acupuncture within their service provision, please contact email@example.com for more information, bookings and costings.