I think not. Yet, there are around
50,000 homeless veterans in the U.S. on any given night -- despite
a 33% drop since 2010! "The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
(VA) states that the nation's homeless veterans are predominantly
male, with roughly 8% being female. The majority are single; live
in urban areas; and suffer from mental illness, alcohol and/or
substance abuse, or co-occurring disorders."
This is where acupuncture comes in,
friends. The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association
(NADA) protocol, specifically, is helping veterans with PTSD manage
stress, addictions, difficulty sleeping, and other behavioral and
mental health conditions. NADA uses a standard set of ear points --
Sympathetic, Shen Men, Kidney, Liver, and Lung -- stimulated either
with needles or with ear seeds.
Since it was established in the Bronx in 1974, the NADA protocol
has brought relief not only to veterans, but also others in need of
assistance with addictions, from food to illegal drugs. How does it
work? The acupuncturist -- or one of over 10,000 health care
professionals trained specifically in NADA protocol -- inserts the
five sterile, stainless steel, one-time use needles into the ear
and lets them remain for up to 45 minutes. Then, we take them out.
It's simple. It's fast. It's cheap. It's effective.
What are patients saying about the NADA
protocol? "...improved program retention, a more optimistic and
cooperative attitude toward the process of recovery, as well as
reductions in cravings, anxiety, sleep disturbance and need for
On Friday, June 26, NUHS Chief AOM Clinician Dr. Hyundo
Kim and a group of acupuncture and oriental medicine interns
headed downtown to the Chicago National Guard Armory to offer free PTSD ear
seed treatments to homeless veterans. That's right -- NADA can
get even easier! When needles aren't appropriate or convenient, we
can still stimulate the ear points of the NADA protocol with
stick-on ear seeds. The added bonus is that the patient can
essentially take the treatment "to go," and can squeeze the seeds,
reactivating the points, for the next few days.
At that Chicago Stand-Down event, held in June, homeless
veterans are brought together in a single location to access
community resources and supplies needed to begin addressing their
individual problems and rebuilding their lives. Our group of
volunteers provided ear seed treatments while other groups provided
everything from a hot meal to a bag of clothing to an eye exam. I
saw booths for flu shots, HIV tests, dental services, and Reiki.
That day -- that one day -- those homeless veterans had a
Representatives were on-site to match them with shelters, jobs,
and the benefits they earned for their service to the United States
of America. They were welcomed, they were appreciated, and they
This weekend I saw an article about the word "eggcorn" being
added to the dictionary. Perfect, I thought. Someone has finally
justified my mispronunciation of the word "acorn." After all these
years, I've been vindicated.
No. That's not what happened. Apparently, a word has been
created, tested, and formalized for these types of circumstances.
When enough people say a word incorrectly enough times, it can
become a legitimized word. You can't just be totally crazy and
wrong, though, mind you. You have to misuse a word and
have it be somewhat close to making sense. Then you can be
"For all intensive purposes," "a mute
point," "an averse reaction," "old timer's disease," and "soup
chef." All wrong. Look again -- it should read "for all intents and
purposes," "a moot point," "an adverse reaction," Alzheimer's
disease," and "sous chef." Notice how the words commonly used are
technically wrong, but still actually kind of correct? Now there's
a word for that, and that word is, appropriately, an "eggcorn."
What do eggcorns have to do with TCM? Well, thanks for asking.
Some of my favorite intentional misspeaks just happen to be related
to auricular acupuncture, or, as I call it, "earcupuncture."
Closely related is the way that I call the ear apex the "earpex."
Sometimes, I just can't help myself. It's like the words are out
there just calling me to stick them together. Maybe I'm not even
misspeaking; I'm just making new contractions. You're welcome.
Today, on this new day, just one week after Merriam-Webster
added "eggcorn" to the dictionary, I feel confident in using my
slightly off the beaten Daoist path terminology. I'm using
earcupuncture, or earicular acupuncture, I'm bleeding the earpex
point to lower blood pressure, and I'm not apologizing. Words that
are wrong but self-explanatory enough to be right are OK in my
Also, ear acupuncture is important. It's powerful, it's fast,
it's easy, and it's cheap to perform. People need to become more
familiar with this modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine, but
the sterile statement, "I'm going to insert needles into your ear
now," doesn't always go over well with patients. Can an eggcorn or
two lighten the mood? Can a spoonful of humor make the needle slide
in more smoothly?
Why does auricular acupuncture work so well that I'm willing to
mispronounce it to help new patients accept it? The theory of
auricular acupuncture is that the ear is a microsystem, where every
body part is represented and connected to a particular point on the
ear. Red spot on the antihelix? Maybe it's revealing your knee
pain. Really sore when I squeeze your lobe? Could be your tooth
infection screaming for help.
Say it how you like. Whether it's ear acupuncture, ear-icular
acupuncture, or earcupuncture, just try it out. I won't judge you
on your pronunciation. Will it hurt? Maybe. Here's a secret tip.
Sometimes we don't even use needles on the ear points. We have
these things called "ear seeds," and they definitely don't hurt. If
you could handle the feel of a Band-Aid with a piece of dirt stuck
to it, then you'd be fine with ear seeds. Just squeeze and enjoy
the pain relieving benefits. It's easier than sticking an acorn to
Ok, I'll do one--one of those kinds of posts. I usually
think it's more interesting and relevant to share information about
some topic of concern or awe to those of us in alternative
medicine, but this time I'm just going to do what the original
intention of this AOM blog probably was. I'm going to share what
it's like to be an acupuncture student fighting her way towards the
end of the trimester.
Now, I'm not fighting because I'm bored, confused, or frustrated
with my classes. On the contrary, I enjoy the nights I get to drive
in a car by myself and sit quietly for 4-5 hours learning about
something I love. It's the most relaxing part of the day. Hey, I
have active young children, a messy husband, and a sometimes
too-demanding teaching schedule to juggle all day. Give me a
graduate night class any day of the week!
No, I'm not fighting in a bad way. I'm excited to reach the end
of this trimester because the day after it ends, I'm getting on the
airplane for Nicaragua. Two weeks in Central America is just what
the doctor ordered for this stressed out, over-committed student.
I'd love to say I'm a good flier, but that wouldn't be true. With
that missing Malaysian plane, I'm going to be grinding ear seeds
into my PC6 points until they're bleeding. Awesomely inopportune
time for that mysterious tragedy. Not to be insensitive, but I
barely make it through my flights as it is. Rescue remedy? Yep,
I'll be using that heavily.
The past several months have been leading up to this medical
mission trip, and soon I know it will be here, then
already--sadly--behind me. Since last year's trip, I haven't been
able to get that clinic off my mind--not that I want to! NDI's
integrative healthcare clinic serves so many appreciative and needy
people, and it's the only medical setting I've ever experienced
where providers of several medical fields all circle around and get
to take a crack at each patient who walks in the door. I know that
when I start my first shift, a middle-aged Nicaraguan farmer will
come into the clinic with the chief complaint of back pain. If I
used a machete all day, I'd develop back pain, too. Instead of that
patient being confined to the limits of one provider's medicine,
this patient will reap the benefits of the naturopath, the
chiropractor, the acupuncturist, the psychologist, and the massage
therapist on staff at the same time. He might get an adjustment,
soft tissue work, some needles, and even a tincture for the road. I
can't get that sweet deal anywhere in the United States, that's for
sure. Did I mention it's free? Sign...me...up.
This is the future of medicine, people.This is it. Integrative
medicine is the way. True, I have to get on an airplane to immerse
myself in it at this point, but I promise you one thing--I'll bring
Can acupuncture help you stop smoking? Maybe. Like most smoking
cessation plans, the most important part will be whether or not you
firmly desire to quit using tobacco. If you have the will, then
acupuncture might just have the way.
cessation is one of the more long-standing mainstream applications
of acupuncture in the United States. My husband recently asked me
for ideas about the effectiveness for his co-worker who has been
trying to quit, and my mind has been making the connections ever
since. How does it work? Will it work? Which points should be used?
How often will he need treatment? Can he do some of the work at
home between acupuncture sessions?
Naturally, being just a student, I didn't know the answers to
these questions without looking into them myself. Now that I feel
like I have a handle on some of these factors, I'll go ahead and
give you lowdown. Of course, I'm not telling anyone to try this at
home, but this is what your acupuncturist might do if you walk into
the clinic and ask for help in your journey to drop the cigarettes
First, let's talk about the mechanisms. Why does a needle going
through your skin make you want to stop smoking? Actually, there
are multiple methods to this madness. On one hand (literally, on
the side of your hand, via an acupoint called Tim Mee) a needle can
actually make your cigarette taste bad. Personally, I think they
already taste bad, but apparently people who smoke tend to like the
taste. Moving on, if changing the taste of a cigarette from lightly
ashy to repulsively garbagy isn't strong enough magic for you,
there are other things that might still work for your stubborn
Next, auricular acupuncture can help
control your cravings, addiction, and withdrawal symptoms while
trying to quit. Think ear piercing with a purpose! While ear
acupuncture can sound even scarier than regular body acupuncture to
the faint-at-heart-newbies, rest assured that the needles are
hair-thin and barely felt. I should tell you that
electro-stimulation of these auricular points is also commonplace.
Some commonly used ear points for smoking cessation include the
following: Shen Men, Sympathetic Autonomic, Point Zero, Endocrine,
etc. Your acupuncturist will add additional points depending on
your individualized condition. Nope, auricular acupuncture for
smoking cessation is NOT necessarily a one-size-fits-all
Now, what can the patient do at home to keep these positive
no-smoking juices flowing between acupuncture sessions? Luckily, we
have a plan for that, too. If you've never heard of ear seeds, you
will if you seek help to quit smoking from an acupuncturist! Small
seeds or magnets (fancy name--auricular pellets) with clear tape
backing are stuck on the above mentioned ear points, and then the
patient is instructed to squeeze them several times a day until
they eventually fall off. If you shower regularly, this is
generally in around three days. If you're looser with your bathing
schedule, you might keep your home care going for a whole week I
suppose. But, let's just pretend everyone showers more than once
Back to the main event: Can acupuncture help you quit smoking?
It really is UP TO YOU. Unless your acupuncturists steals your
cigs, robs you of any available currency, and prevents you from
bartering in the streets for your next nicotine fix, it really is
in your hands. Studies show a variety of outcomes; some are very
positive indeed. If you're ready, call the clinic!
Effect of Acupuncture on Smoking Cessation or Reduction: An
8-Month and 5-Year Follow-up Study. Preventive Medicine, Volume 33,
Issue 5, Pages 364-372. Dong He, Jon I. Medbø, Arne T. Høstmark
Acupuncture to Stop Smoking - Yin Yang
• So What Is Chinese Medicine?
• Jabbing Nerves with Needles
• Mission in Nicaragua
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