Which side of the ear to treat?

| July 25, 2011 | 0 Comments | 250 views

There are no hard and fast rules regarding which side of the ear on which to begin treatment. Ultimately, the goal is to simply treat in the most effective manner possible. However, since one needs a starting place, the following guidelines are offered:

1. If a problem is not confined to one particular side (for instance, the patient has insomnia or a menstrual disorder vs. a right-sided shoulder problem), treat the right ear in a woman and the left ear in a man. This treatment protocol corresponds to gender in Oriental medicine where the right side and females are considered Yin and the left side and males are Yang. Use this approach provided there is no surface or visible pathology that would contraindicate treatment; for instance, a rash or skin irritation on that side of the ear that would preclude treatment at that location.

2. If the problem is musculoskeletal or pertains to a particular side of the body, treat the same ear as the side the problem is manifested on. For instance, if a patient has right-sided knee pain, treat the right ear. However, there are times when the opposite ear works better. For instance, a patient may have left shoulder pain in the area of LI 15 (Jianyu). Because the Large Intestine meridian’s divergent channel exits from LI 15 and crosses as it traverses to the face, the right ear may be more effective. This style of needling, called contralateral needling, is useful in both body and ear acupuncture.

3. After treating the patient with needles in one ear during a session, you then choose to affix pellets or other modalities to reinforce that treatment for take-home purposes, treat the opposite ear so as not to irritate the ear that was needled.

4. Consider patient lifestyle variables or the condition of the ear, for example, if the patient sleeps exclusively on one side of the body, has a job talking on the phone for long periods and primarily uses one ear, or has a hearing aid, multiple earpiercing, or jewelry that is difficult to remove. Select the opposite ear to treat in these cases or do not treat at all.

5. When the patient returns for the next treatment in a series, alternate ears and use the opposite ear in order to reduce irritation and chances of infection.


Category: Acupuncture Courses, Auricular Acupuncture

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