I have been using the little helpers with several patients recently and very pleased with the results that they are reporting. Here is a nice article from AcuTake by Denise Cicuto.
Acupressure is a free, easy, safe, and convenient way to alleviate symptoms and stay healthy. It can help with everything from stress reduction and boosting immunity to soothing travel ailments and getting rid of hangovers.
In addition to acupressure points on different parts of the body—many of which are covered in AcuTake’s Why Are You Doing That Point? series—there’s a whole microcosm of points inside your ear!
Similar to how foot reflexology targets points on the feet that correspond to body parts, in acupuncture, there is a map of the body inside the ear. Acupuncturists use these points for treating pain, digestive problems, smoking cessation, weight loss, generalized stress and anxiety, and other things.
While many acupuncturists use needles to treat points on the ear, another common method for treating ear acupuncture points is with ear seeds. You can use ear seeds on your own, so they’re a great DIY way to give your ears a little acupressure love.
What are ear seeds?
Ear seeds are tiny balls that are made of either a plant called vaccaria or metal. These seeds are attached to a small piece of tape and affixed to acupuncture points in the ear.
The seeds essentially act as placeholders for acupressure points. By applying ear seeds at the end of your acupuncture treatment, your acupuncturist extends the effect of your treatment.
What do I do with the ear seeds once they’re in my ears?
You’ll just need to press on the ear seeds a few times a day. The easiest way to reach most of the points is to place your thumb behind your ear and your index finger in front of your ear. Grasp the seed between your fingers and apply firm, gentle pressure.
How long do I leave the seeds in?
You can leave in ear seeds for a few days or more, pressing on them a few times a day. If they start to itch or burn, you might be reacting to the tape, so remove them whenever they become uncomfortable. Your acupuncturist may have different kinds of seeds and tapes to try next time, so be sure to ask. Often, seeds fall out on their own during showering or hair brushing. That’s normal.
What if I can’t get to see my acupuncturist? Can I put the ear seeds in myself?
Absolutely. Your acupuncturist can show you where to put the seeds in, using charts to help guide you. You may need a mirror or to have a friend put them in for you. If you’re not able to get to your acupuncturist, there are some great ear-seed kits available with charts and a set of tweezers from earseeds.com.
Do you have any recommendations for which points to target?
To start, I recommend Ear Shen Men (first photo) and Point Zero (second photo).
Ear Shen Men is located toward the bottom of the horseshoe-shaped depression at the top of your ear, known as the triangular fossa. This point calms the mind and alleviates stress.
Ear Shen Men is good for treating anxiety, depression, and insomnia. It’s one of the five points included in the widely utilized NADA protocol for aiding addiction recovery.
Point Zero is located in the middle of the external ear surface, like a bullseye. This point is great for bringing the body’s energy back in balance. It also helps enhance the effects of other acupuncture points, so it’s a nice point to press after you’ve gotten an acupuncture treatment.
Denise Cicuto is a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist who specializes in women’s health and immunity. Her private practice, Cicuto Acupuncture, has offices in San Francisco and Alameda, California.