For many years, more than 10 years, in fact, since I've been struggling with chronic pain, I've been wanting to write about all the things I have learned to do for myself to reduce pain and suffering. Techniques that I rely on come from the 3 M's mostly - massage, movement and meditation. These are the practices central to my career as a massage therapist, qigong and tai chi instructor, and health educator and in my personal life. Each self help post is conceived to be kind of a reminder, a record of simple ways to turn toward yourself and utilize inner knowledge in times of trauma, stress and pain. So here goes number one in my hoped to be emerging series - about acupressure self help points in the ear.
I'm going to start by talking about the ear and specifically three points on the ear that can help immensely with any sort of trauma, Shenmen, Kidney and Liver points (see chart above from NIDA https://theory.yinyanghouse.com/theory/auricular/nada_detox_protocol)
How do ear points (acupressure) work?
Ear acupressure can help you reduce symptoms and stay strong. Similar to how foot or hand reflexology targets points on the feet or hands that correspond to areas of your body, Traditional Chinese medicine has mapped out a reflex of the entire body on the ear. Strategic pressure on specific ear points can address everything from stress reduction, soothing digestion, to easing joint and muscle pains. It's done by placing tiny press balls, small magnets, or seeds (radish or mustard seeds, for instance) at specific areas of the ears. You can even massage ear points using a pencil eraser.
Where are the points to press on? What do they do?
1. You can find Shenmen ("spirit gate") by pulling up on the very top of the ear cartilage and it will create a triangular shape (known as the triangular fossa) just beneath. Put the seed into the middle of the triangle to calm and ground yourself. It is used to open your spirit to something higher to counteract disturbances on the earthly plane.
2. Kidney point is located directly below Shenmen in the next division/fold of the ear. Place the seed pushing up to the top of the fold. You can think of this point tor bring the body’s energy back in balance. From a TCM perspective, Kidneys govern fear, so it can help with an overabundance of that emotion. Also Kidney point is the foundation or root of all yin (nurturing) energy. The will to persist and move ahead in the face of difficulty is rooted in the kidneys. this point can revive a low sex drive, calm insomnia and revitalize low energy.
3. Liver point is located underneath Kidney point . Follow a horizontal fold of the ear back to where it hits the big arc of the ear. there might even be a little red dot. When the kidney organs are deficient in TCM, liver suffers. When your liver fire rises, in TCM, it is associated with anger, frustration. Can be out of balance with sexual abuse, and all kinds of trauma. Liver controls the flow of blood and menstrual cycles. Lack of nourishment to the liver can result in nausea, headaches, and bouts of emotional outbursts.
Once you've got your ear seeds in, press on them a few times a day, whenever you feel in distress. Place your thumb behind the ear and your index finger in front and apply firm, gentle pressure. Ear seeds can stay in place for a few days to a week. Remove them whenever they become uncomfortable. Often, seeds fall out on their own during showering or hair brushing.
Marian Wolfe Dixon
MA, LMT (OR #3902)
NCTMB Approved Provider
Continuing Education for Massage Therapists, CHt, TCMBB.