What is Auricular Therapy?

By Dr. Wanda Duong, DTCM, R.Ac., B.Sc.,

Auricular Therapy (AT), also called Auriculotherapy, is both a diagnostic and an integrative treatment procedure whereby the external surface of the ear, or auricle, is stimulated to alleviate conditions in other parts of the body.

The principles of Auricular Therapy (AT) are based upon both Traditional Chinese Medicine and neurological reflex therapies that were discovered in Europe. The essential principle in AT is that there are neurological reflexes and energetic correspondences between specific areas of the external ear, or auricle, and other parts of the body that are arranged in the pattern of an inverted fetus, which is similar to principles of reflexology on the feet.

AT can produce a therapeutic effect for treating various conditions by stimulating the acupoint that corresponds to the targeted part of the body or organ. Treatment of those reactive ear points can be achieved by tactile acupressure (ear seeds and acupressure) or by the insertion of very thin acupuncture needles.

The WHO recognizes AT as a micro-acupuncture system that can produce a positive impact on regulating the whole body, and its therapeutic effect has been investigated in a wide range of health problems in both oriental and western countries. AT can be used to address very similar issues that body acupuncture can address including reducing pain, anxiety, withdrawal and addictions symptoms, migraines, insomnia, digestive issues, and many other conditions. Similar to body acupuncture, thin needles can be used on the ear for a short duration and a strong effect/stimulus. As an alternative, ear seeds can be placed onto acupoints of the ears to provide a much gentler stimulus whereby the patient is sent home with the ear seeds still in place and instructed on how to massage the ear seeds. This allows for a gentle yet longer stimulus of the acupoint on the ear. Traditionally, ear seeds come from the flowering herb Vaccaria, but practitioners can also use metal, silver, or gold-plated seeds today.

An ear seed appointment can be completed quite quickly and is done in a seated position. The procedure will typically look something like the following:

1. Clean and dry the outside of your ear. The ears are disinfected in preparation for the ear seeds that will go on the outside of your ear, not in your ear canal.

2. Identify the correct points. The acupuncturist will locate the best points based on your needs and symptoms.

3. Ear seeds applied. Ear seeds typically come pre-attached to adhesive tape where the The practitioner will press gently on the tape to make sure the ear seeds stick to the ear well.

4. Massage ear seeds gently. The patient is asked to follow simple instructions of massaging the ear seed three to five times each day or when symptoms are present. Apply pressure to massage the ear seeds for 30 seconds to two minutes if comfortable.

5. Change them regularly. As ear seed application does not stimulate an acupoint as strongly as needles, it is recommended to have an ear seed (auricular) appointment every 1-2 weeks when beginning treatment. Additionally, though safe to shower with, ear seeds will naturally fall off on their own from 2 – 7 days. Your practitioner will also recommend you remove any remaining ear seeds after about 5 -7 days regardless, so it’s recommended to get them replaced regularly to continue to benefit from those points.

6. Removal. You can use tweezers or your nails to remove the ear seeds. Simple tilt your head slightly to face the ground and remove the seeds.

Speak to our registered acupuncturist, Dr. Wanda Duong TCM, for more information or book your ear seed appointment today at Active Sports Therapy, Willow Park 403-278-1405

What is Auricular Therapy?

Menopause from a Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctors Prospective.

By Dr. Wanda Duong DTCM, R.Ac., BSc. and Dr. Vikki Maguire DTCM.

The years leading up to menopause can bring tremendous changes to the female body. Although a natural biological process, menopause is not experienced the same by all individuals. Symptoms associated with menopause often create secondary symptoms that affect sleep patterns, energy levels, and overall physical and emotional well-being.

Menopause is the result of a dynamic decline in the function of the ovaries to produce eggs and associated hormones that regulate menstruation. This normal transition in menstruation often occurs between the ages of 45-55 years, though it can begin earlier in some females.  Symptoms associated with menopause are multivariate and can include difficulty concentrating, muscle and joint pain, changes in skin texture and appearance, urinary disruptions, mood changes, decrease libido, fatigue, and hot flashes and night sweating as the most prominent symptoms that most individuals experience.   

Like the western medicine approach to addressing menopause, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) also aims to regulate the body’s internal thermostat to control and reduce symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweating, as well as support and stabilize a healthy change in hormone levels. However, TCM takes a more natural and holistic approach, that often has little to no negative side effects, and individuals often see improvements in many secondary areas such as quality of sleep, reduced aches and pains, improved skin and hair health, stabilized mood changes, and an increase in libido and energy.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) uses a combination of modalities to create a personalized treatment plan based on the individual’s needs and underlying issues that are found through TCM diagnosis. A combination of acupuncture, herbal formulas, and dietary/lifestyle recommendations is often utilized.

TCM acupuncture utilizes specific point combinations to encourage the body to trigger the release of specific chemicals and hormones. This is done by stimulating the nervous system to then communicate with the spinal cord and brain. This biochemical change stimulates the body’s natural healing and regulating abilities to correct imbalances in temperature, hormone levels, and physical and emotional well-being. TCM acupuncture is a very safe and non-invasive therapy and research has suggested that of the myriad of symptoms menopause can present with, hot flashes and night sweating appear to respond quite quickly with just acupuncture.

One of the common approaches western medicine takes is hormone therapy, and though effective, hormone therapy may come with negative side effects such as breast and ovarian disorders, or individuals may have contraindications or are unwilling to use hormone therapy. TCM offers a natural and safe alternative often combining acupuncture with TCM herbal formulas as an adjunct to increase the efficacy of an acupuncture treatment. Herbal formulas are comprised of a balancing blend of ingredients found in nature. They often have little to no side effects, aside from allergies to a particular plant or plant part, and like homeopathy, TCM takes advantage of the therapeutic properties these plant materials offer to create formulas that address both symptoms and their underlying root causes. There is no one particular herbal formula to address symptoms of menopause as each herbal formula is unique in its ability to address underlying root causes of symptoms. After a consultation, your TCM practitioner will be able to prescribe an appropriate herbal formula to specifically address your condition.

The combination of TCM acupuncture, herbal formulas, and the addition of TCM dietary suggestions assists the body during this transition into menopause. Rather than the abrupt and drastic decline in hormones that the body is forced into during menopause, TCM takes a natural and whole-body approach to assist the body with a balanced and gradual change in hormone levels. However, regulating the body’s internal thermostat does work exactly like the thermostat on our wall, therefore patience and consistency is necessary to experience change.

TCM therapies can be used in conjunction with other forms of treatments including Western medicine, naturopathy, chiropractic, homeopathy, massage therapy, and so forth. When combing TCM acupuncture with other interventions (medication, supplements, herbal formulas, other therapies), studies have concluded that this combination is more effective than those interventions alone.

Sources:

Johnson A., Roberts L., Elkins G. Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Menopause. Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine. (2019). doi:10.1177/2515690X19829380

Lund KS., Siersma V., Brodersen J., et al. Efficacy of a standardized acupuncture approach for women with bothersome menopausal symptoms: a pragmatic randomized study in primary care (the ACOM study). (2019). 9:e023637. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2018-023637

Lian-Wei X., Man J., Roland S., et al. Hindawi Publishing Corporation Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Review Article Efficacy and Side Effects of Chinese Herbal Medicine for Menopausal Symptoms: A Critical Review. (2012). Article ID 568106, 19 pages doi:10.1155/2012/568106

Kim KH., Kang KW., Kim DI., et al. Effects of acupuncture on hot flashes in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women-a multicenter randomized clinical trial. Menopause. (2010) Mar;17(2):269-80. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3181bfac3b. PMID: 19907348.

*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Acupuncture for Insomnia

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Dr. Vikki Mcguire TCM

What is considered insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder where an individual has difficulty falling asleep and/or remaining asleep through the night. Upon waking in the night, the person might then have a tough time falling back to sleep. Insomnia can be either acute, which means it’s short-lived and goes away. Acute insomnia might be due to a stressful life event, for example, a student may not be able to sleep the night before an important exam. Chronic insomnia is when a person experiences it a minimum of three nights per week lasting at least three months. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it could also include sleep that is disrupted by nightmares and dreams.

Most adults need about 7-9 hours of sleep per night and without that people can experience both a physical and mental toll, especially if the insomnia is chronic.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, insomnia can be a symptom of an underlying health issue. Some causes of sleep disorders include:

After a full assessment, a TCM doctor will design a treatment plan to help address your sleep issue. It may include a self-care lifestyle plan, herbal recommendations, nutrition options, acupuncture and cupping treatments.

How can Acupuncture Help with Sleep?

Acupuncture is a treatment where fine needles are placed into certain points in the body that will help to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissues. With regards to sleep directly, acupuncture therapy can help to activate your body's generation of the sleep hormone melatonin and works to  lower overall stress and anxiety by relaxing the body, in turn sending you to sleep easier. Working with the flow of energy in the body, acupuncture can help bring back flow to areas of the body that may be obstructed or are experiencing an imbalance. Many people experience an extremely peaceful sleep immediately after an acupuncture session.

If you're having trouble falling asleep, here are a few pieces of low-hanging fruit that you can reach for to see if they make a difference:

If you’re interested in learning more to find out whether acupuncture could be right for you, please book in with Dr. Vikki Mcguire TCM at Active Sports Therapy.

*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]