EAR ACUPUNCTURE “Which ear do I treat?”
Perhaps one of the most perplexing clinical questions of ear acupuncture is which ear to treat for maximum effectiveness. As most practitioners are aware, “authorities” have advised if “the patient is a woman” treat the left ear on the other hand another authority will say to treat the right ear based on yin/yang principles. The same is true for male patients. Some authorities will say if the problem is truly on the left side of the body, treat the opposite side and as practitioners are further aware, other authorities will advise to treat the same side as the affliction. If the problem is an internal disorder some say to treat both ears, however an equal number will advise one ear or the other based on a multitude of principles which have been shown to be highly questionable. I personally knew of a quite elderly MD in the early 1970's who returned to practice with his MD son after being in retirement for more than 15 years. The senior doctor was so taken by the ease, effectiveness and excitement of “Auriculotherapy” he joined his sons' Internal Medicine practice attending to patients three days a week, seeing between 35 and 50 patients a day. The junior doctor had purchased for his enthusiastic father, a used dental chair and the senior doctor (bear in mind was in his upper 80's) had his charts on the wall in front of him and a stool which was perched on the patients right side. He treated every patients right ear because that is where his stool was located. Based upon his stellar clinical response which was probably more due to his infectious enthusiasm and expectation than his skills, one would think you should always treat the right ear. It certainly seemed to work for him. However, when I studied in extreme Northwest China in 1980 in addition to Tibet in 1985, I learned of what I believe to be one of the most significant applications of which side of the body to treat I have ever encountered. I have personally used this procedure for well over 25 years and can speak of its value.
In the May and July 2003 issue of “Acupuncture Today” as well as the April 21 and June 2 issue of Dynamic Chiropractic, I wrote a two part series entitled “The Caduceus, Chakras, Acupuncture and Healing” to view those articles, go to www.AcupunctureToday.com , see Columnists, click on my name and photo and scroll through previous articles to view the two I refer to. You may also find them easily by seeing “Articles by Dr. Amaro” www.IAMA.edu . I would highly recommend you visit these two articles for a general background as space limitations do not allow me to explain the entire procedure in explicit detail. Be sure to see the part of the geographic nations which have contributed to Acupuncture education. This is imperative.
In those two articles amongst a variety of educational thoughts, the general concept of the “Ida”, “Pingala” and “Sushumna” were discussed. This provides the basic framework for the procedure to be discussed here. Ida is the feminine (Yin) or right side which is activated through the breath through the left nostril whereas the Pingala is the masculine (Yang) which is activated through breath in the right nostril. The Sushumna constitutes the spinal tracts and cord (GV and CV). The three of these make up what we know as the intertwining snake comprising the Chakras, the energetic basis for the meridians and what has become to be known as the medical caduceus. You have to read this, if you read it already, do yourself a favor and read it again. Please bear in mind, the concepts of the Ida (feminine, right, Yin), Pingala (masculine, left, Yang) and Sushumna (Ren and Du) are mind numbing as to detail and only a fraction of the explanations are discussed here.
Quite simply, if one were to apply pressure to the outside of the right nostril blocking it completely and breathe deeply through the left nostril, then repeat the procedure by applying pressure to the outside of the left nostril blocking it completely and breathing deeply through the right nostril, one would discover they have a definite nostril which is more open than the other. In the acupuncture programs I teach we demonstrate this to the surprise of the entire class as a class of 50 or more will demonstrate the above described procedure, fully 48% of the participants will clearly show a right nostril open, whereas the another 48% will show the left nostril open completely. The remaining 2% will report both nostrils are equally open.
This is extremely significant as if the “right” nostril (Pingala) is more open, this means the left brain (masculine, analytical) is in full activation, whereas if the “left” nostril (Ida) is more open, the right brain (feminine, creative) is fully engaged. From an ear acupuncture approach and many applications of body acupuncture to include Cerebral acupuncture, this means if the right nostril is open; the left ear is more receptive to treatment, if the left nostril is open treat the right ear. If both nostrils are open treat bilaterally.
The most stunning part of this concept is the person of usual health will naturally shift back and forth between the left and right nostril being open in relation to the harmonics and flow of the Horary cycle as it goes through the four hour Element cycle of each of the 12 meridians in a 24 hour day. As a general rule the average person will shift from left to right and back again every three to four hours as each one of the specific Elements have a four hour maximum flow before moving to the next dominate Element. LUNG and LARGE INTESTINE (Metal) 3am-7am followed by STOMACH and SPLEEN (Earth) 7am-11am. If a practitioner were to check a patient to find both of their nostrils are equally open, this means they are in a state of transgression between left and right or they are suffering from a malady which does not permit them to make the shift from left to right. This is of critical importance. Of equal importance is a person because of chronic sinusitis, deviated nasal septum or other cause which does not allow them to shift the openness of the nostril throughout the day. This is also critical.
In essence the bottom line is before initiating either Ear Acupuncture or Cerebral Acupuncture, always have the patient completely block each nostril in turn by pressing firmly with the finger on the nasal ala and breathe deeply through the unimpeded nostril. The nostril which is open indicates to treat the opposite side (Ear or Cerebral). If the nostrils are determined to be equally open, it is imperative to treat bilateral.
Initiating this concept into your clinical practice will reap incredible clinical response possibly not seen in previous applications. Remember even if you do not do this procedure routinely, you are still going to have a 50% chance of choosing the right ear. Try it and let me hear of your victories. It is truly spectacular.
John A. Amaro D.C., L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.