Ear acupuncture is an ancient therapy originating in China, which consists of applying needles in specific points of the body (most common in the ear) to treat diseases and promote health.
Again, these needles are applied to specific body regions to improve immunity and treat emotional problems and physical illnesses such as sinusitis, asthma, migraine, and arthritis.
These techniques are based on the idea that the body is composed of energy accumulated in various regions called meridians. If the flow of energy in these meridians is unbalanced, it will lead to body inflammation, causing symptoms such as pain, fatigue, and weakness.
Therefore, the objective of ear acupuncture (or any other part of the body) is to establish balance in the body, facilitating the circulation of energy, triggering analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.
However, this type of treatment should be performed by trained professionals and under the guidance of a physician.
What is Acupuncture used for?
These techniques are known to strengthen the immune system and for the treatment of problems and diseases such as:
- Mouth problems such as pain after tooth extraction, gingivitis or pharyngitis
- Respiratory diseases such as sinusitis, rhinitis, common cold, asthma or bronchitis
- Ophthalmologic diseases such as conjunctivitis and cataracts
- Neurological problems such as headache or migraine
- Gastrointestinal problems such as acid reflux, duodenal ulcer and constipation
- Orthopedic problems such as sciatic pain, lumbago or rheumatoid arthritis
- Sleep disorders such as insomnia and agitation
In addition to these problems, acupuncture can complement the treatment of allergies such as rhinitis, nausea and vomiting induced by chemotherapy, and; emotional disorders such as anxiety, excess stress, or depression.
In many cases, this Chinese therapy is also an adjunct treatment for smoking cessation, especially auriculotherapy, because it helps combat anxiety and deals with smoking withdrawal symptoms.
It is usually recommended to perform 2 or 3 acupuncture sessions per week for 3 months or more in these cases.
Types of Acupuncture
There are various acupuncture techniques, which are indicated by an acupuncturist in conjunction with a physician, depending on a person’s disease or health problem. The most popular types of acupuncture are:
1. Ear acupuncture
Auricular acupuncture, also known as auriculotherapy, can treat pain, physical or emotional illnesses and can be performed with or without needles.
This technique is performed on the ears, and when needles are not used, mustard seeds or other small spheres can be used and placed at specific points on the ear.
The benefits of this type of acupuncture are scientifically proven and recommended for the treatment of back pain.
2. Aesthetic acupuncture
In this case, it is used to improve skin elasticity, stimulating collagen production; it also helps in the recovery of muscles and the growth of support cells, fighting wrinkles and even localized fat.
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This type of acupuncture is performed by applying small needles in the region of the head, face, and neck. The results of aesthetic acupuncture are more natural than Botox procedures, but it takes longer to take effect.
3. Acupuncture for weight loss
In Chinese medicine, it is believed that overweight and obesity promote body imbalances, causing problems in the liver, spleen, kidneys, thyroid, and hormonal disturbances.
For this reason, acupuncture can be indicated for weight loss because it increases metabolism and reduces appetite through the application of needles in strategic points of the body.
In addition to this, acupuncture can also stimulate the body’s energy flow and alter the levels of hormones involved in hunger, promoting weight loss.
However, it is also important to maintain a healthy diet and dietary restrictions because, in combination with acupuncture, weight loss may be more effective.
Electroacupuncture is used to relieve chronic pain caused by spinal problems and fibromyalgia, for example, and helps improve sleep through the brain’s release of substances linked to well-being.
For this type of acupuncture, a device is used with fine needles attached to electrodes that emit small electrical impulses through the body.
In addition to improving pain, electroacupuncture promotes relaxation, reduces stress and anxiety, and can be performed by professionals in physical therapy and trained acupuncturists, so it is important to look for certified clinics to perform this type of procedure.
How acupuncture is performed
As you know by now, conventional acupuncture involves the use of fine needles, disposable and with varied sizes, allowing its application in different skin points, which will depend on the symptoms, diseases, and health problems that the person presents.
Acupuncture sessions are performed by an acupuncturist, a physician, nutritionist, physiotherapist, or occupational therapist; this procedure does not require anesthesia because the needles are extremely “thin,” and the application is performed with exact techniques that don’t cause pain.
In addition to this, before starting the therapy, the professional prepares a medical history that includes the personal and family history of the individual.
Generally, the person remains lying on a stretcher for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the type of acupuncture applied and the treatment indication.
Where the acupuncture points are located
Acupuncture points, better known as meridians, are the exact places where the needles or laser should be applied so that the flow of energy is released, thus reducing pain, for example.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, there are 12 meridians that are related to various organs such as the lung, spleen, intestine, bladder, and gall bladder.
The feet have several meridians, so, commonly, this region is stimulated with needles when performing acupuncture.
However, the ear is the region where most applications are performed because acupuncture in this region, in general, is related to pain relief.
What are the risks?
Acupuncture is a very safe technique and, in general, has no health risks, nor does it cause side effects, however, it must be performed by a qualified professional and in properly certified clinics.
The needles used in acupuncture should be disposable because their reuse increases the risk of contracting diseases like hepatitis.
People who use medications such as aspirin should consult their physician before having this procedure since applying the needles may cause bleeding.
Furthermore, if a person presents intense pain, inflammation, bleeding, and hematomas in the region of the needle application, it will be necessary to consult a general practitioner to evaluate these signs and indicate the most appropriate treatment.
Acupuncture during pregnancy
Pregnant women can also benefit from acupuncture because it helps to reduce the effects of hormonal variations during pregnancy and relieves back pain and discomfort caused by the weight of the belly.
It is also effective in combating the nausea of the early months and helping the baby get into the right position for delivery.
Anyone can try acupuncture, even when the person does not have any disease, because this technique can improve well-being.
It can also be performed in children with health problems such as pain caused by sickle cell anemia, hyperactivity, and stress. The most applied technique in these cases is laser or electroacupuncture.