If you're suffering from addiction, cravings or unwanted habits, acupressure using ear seeds might be for you. In this form of traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM, a practitioner places the tiny seeds of the vaccaria plant on key points on the ear and tapes them in place. Pressing on the seeds stimulates the related point and might be able to help you reduce cravings when they arise. This practice should not be a substitute for conventional medicine.
According to TCM, the ear hosts acupressure points that correspond to each part of the body. When you stimulate a point, the smooth and abundant flow of qi or vital life energy returns the related organ or area, allowing healing to take place. Ear seeds can be used alone or in combination with acupuncture or body acupressure in order to treat a host of symptoms, and can offer gentle support for your weight loss or smoking cessation efforts, or to help you fight addictions, according to the website Soft Touch Acupuncture.
The seeds of the vaccaria plant are tiny enough to sit precisely over one pressure point. This feature is important because the ear is crowded with pressure points, and it's easy to hit a point or points that surround the one you intend to stimulate. Vaccaria also works to invigorate the blood, and opens the energy channels of the body and speeds the healing process, according to the website Yin Yang House. Many vaccaria seed products come with an adhesive tape attached to each seed for easy application.
Ear acupressure might reduce cravings for addictive substances more steadily and to a greater degree than standard medical care alone, according to a 2006 study by Satya Krishnan and Xiaowei Tian of the Department of Health Science at New Mexico State University, published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. Participants in the study, who had used drugs for an average of 14 years, received acupressure once a week for six weeks during treatment for substance abuse. Ear acupressure had a significant positive effect on psychological distress, drug and alcohol use and cravings.
TCM seeks to treat the whole person, not just a symptom. In addition to using ear seeds, you can speed your progress by taking into account any emotional or physical stressors you might be suffering. Most TCM practitioners see emotional and physical symptoms as two sides of the same coin. In releasing unresolved emotional issues, acupressure removes the tension that often contributes to physical symptoms, according to Michael Reed Gach, director of the Acupressure Institute in Berkeley, California, co-author of "Acupressure for Emotional Healing." Changing your emotional habits and adjusting your routine to be less stressful will help ear seeds therapy be more effective.
Ear pressure points are extremely challenging to locate. Although you can buy ear seeds for your personal use, your best bet for using them effectively is to consult a TCM practitioner. Acupuncturists and acupressure therapists are both qualified to place ear seeds and instruct you on how to use them. A TCM professional can also give you a complete diagnosis, along with tips on how to adjust your diet and habits for your body type.
- Soft Touch Acupuncture: Auriculotherapy
- Yin Yang House: Wang Bu Lui Xing (Vaccaria Seeds)
- "Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine"; Efficacy of Auricular Acupressure as an Adjuvant Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment; X. Tian and S. Krishnan; January/February 2006
- "Acupressure for Emotional Healing"; Michael Reed Gach and Beth Ann Henning; 2004