• To understand the criteria for ear acupuncture point selection in a treatment
• To become familiar with the most common clinical energetics of the 100 common points of the ear consistent with the criteria for point selection
Each ear point has numerous clinical applications. The clinical energetics described in this chapter are the physiological functions of those points that are traditionally recognized as consistent with Oriental medical theory. They are augmented with the thoughts of various ear acupuncture experts where relevant. These are the identical energetics that I have found effective in treating a wide variety of human illnesses. Because of the number of possible human health disorders, it is impossible to list all of the potential clinical usages of each point, nor is it necessary to do so. Each practitioner is encouraged to study these energetics so that he too can deduce any additional indications that might be possible based upon his understanding of Oriental medicine functions and the criteria for point selection as described. This deduction process likewisem frees the practitioner from the memorization of point usage and an over reliance upon consulting texts so that he can be an efficient practitioner. The practitioner is encouraged to test his own hypotheses as well, concerning the use of ear points in order to gain his own clinical experience.
In auricular acupuncture, as well as in body acupuncture, points have many parameters for selection. Points can be selected based upon the following criteria:
Western anatomical equivalent (i.e., the diseased area, organ, body part, or system) — for example, the Lung point could be chosen to treat a physical problem with the anatomical organ of the Lungs,such as constricted bronchioles.
• Western physiological counterpart — the Lung point could also be selected for a physiological problem of the Lung, such as edema of the Lungs.
• Anatomical equivalent in Oriental medicine — in Oriental medicine, the Lung point is useful for an anatomical Lung problem, such as invasion of the Lung by Wind–Cold.
• Physiological equivalent in Oriental medicine — an Oriental physiological Lung problem, such as failure of the Lungs to descend and disperse the fluids, is treated through the Lung point.
• Known clinical efficacy (i.e., as in the case of clinically effective points derived from clinical practice and research) — the Lung points, for instance, are clinically effective points in the treatment of Stomach ulcers because the Lungs dominate the mucous membranes. Ulcers are perforations of an organ’s lining that consist of mucous membranes.
• Observation of morphological or pathological changes (i.e., pore-like depressions, creases, ridges, red areas, etc.) — red petechiae on a Lung point indicate Heat in the Lungs. The Lung point can treat this problem.
• Internal and external meridian pathways as well as other Oriental diagnostic paradigms that the practitioner may use (i.e., Five Elements, Triple Burner, Four Levels, Six Divisions, Three Treasures) — for instance, certain shoulder problems can be treated through the Lung point because the Lung meridian passes through the supraclavicular region of the shoulder area.
This guide assists the practitioner in thinking beyond merely selecting points based upon a simple anatomical equivalent of where the problem resides.
Oriental medicine’s strength lies in its rich theory to meet the challenges of diagnosing and treating illness. Thoroughness, sensitivity, and creativity on the part of the practitioner in point selection enhance its effectiveness.
For instance, most illness can be categorized according to Chinese medical theory under the 11 Zang-fu organs (with the Pericardium considered to be part of the Heart system). Hence, each organ can be the source of thousands of diseases. The ear points then have a wide range of clinical applicability that supercedes their Western equivalent organ or body part.
Because most points in the ear are named either according to a body part (i.e., Shoulder point), or according to an organ in a body system (i.e., the Stomach point), this simple nomenclature has allowed other healthcare providers, such as allopathic doctors, chiropractors, and researchers, to employ the ear diagnostically and therapeutically. However, without deeper understanding of Oriental medical theory, research studies about the clinical utility of an ear point can be flawed. For instance, in a scientific study that is designed to establish the relationship of one variable to another, a conclusion may be drawn that “X” point does not help in the treatment of a particular disease and, therefore, ear acupuncture is not effective in the treatment of that disorder. The “X” point may be the wrong point associated with the most effective treatment of the condition.
For instance, the Stomach point can help in the treatment of Stomach ulcers because the Stomach point focuses the treatment in the area of the Stomach. However, the Lung point is critical to the treatment of Stomach ulcers because the Lung dominates mucus membranes, and the ulcer is a problem with the mucus membranes of the Stomach. The choice of the Lung point for the treatment of Stomach ulcers is based on an appreciation of the Oriental physiological role of the Lungs. The treatment of Stomach ulcers is greatly enhanced through the addition of the Lung point as well. A Western study could conclude that ulcers are not effectively treated through ear acupuncture if the Lung point is not chosen.
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