This week I became trained in Auricular Acupuncture 5 point Acu-Detox Protocol. My training was facilitated by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA). Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine which involves inserting thin needles into the body, this helps to restore the body’s energy. Auricular acupuncture is based on the idea that the ear is a microsystem which reflects the entire body, represented on the auricle, the outer portion of the ear.
But what does this actually do? Acupuncture originates from thousands of years ago. It helps to restore the bodys “Qi” (pronounced Chi) energy which may have an imbalance caused by emotional and/or physical stress, poor nutrition, infection or injury (British Acupuncture Council). Auricular acupuncture in particular is popular amongst the substance misuse field to support individuals in their recovery. It works on the basis of not treating the substance, but treating the imbalance in the body caused by substance use. This in turn improves withdrawal symptoms and general health and wellbeing.
The 5 point protocol includes;
Shen Men – Related to the fire element and connected to heart energy. This point restores calmness and helps anxiety, induces restfulness and treats insomnia, lowers blood pressure and harmonises the liver.
Sympathetic – Related to the earth element of the spleen/stomach. This acts as painkiller for the intestines, helps with night sweats, spontaneous sweating and helps with the arterial and venous spasm.
Kidney – Related to the water element. This helps to improve willpower, back ache and strengthen the spine. It helps with tinnitus and poor hearing as well as digestion and sexual dysfunction.
Liver – Related to the wood element. This helps to regulate blood circulation, menstruation and emotions It has been found to help with dizzy spells and also treat depression.
Lung – Related to the metal element. This aids regulation of body temperature, controls breathing. It helps with skin disease, promotes circulation of oxygenated blood and assists the mental aspect of “letting go”.
I know what you’re thinking – does this actually work? Or is it just an old wife’s tale? Well the National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE) argue that evidence for effectiveness in treating drug and alcohol misuse is weak, yet acknowledge that anecdotal evidence is valued. Although this is the case auricular acupuncture has been used in Chinese medicine for over 3000 years and is used in many drug and alcohol services across the country! There is however other evidence which supports the alternative therapy. NADA created their own study using auricular acupuncture as substance misuse treatment amongst young people within a prison. Their research found that cravings for drugs decreased by 83%, cravings for alcohol declined by 71%, Anxiety 84%, Depression 77%, Sleep 64% and Self-esteem 40%. This also looked into other factors, the full report can be found here.
Through working in the substance misuse field I am able to put this training into practice by administering the 5 point protocol to the young people in service with us. I hope for this to be an alternative option to help the young people relax and have a period of ‘time out’. Oh and last but not least, the question I know you’re all asking… does it hurt? Simply – no.