Brief Overview of the Treatment Received at Group Auricular Acupuncture Sessions
Participants are seated in a circle, and the acupuncture practitioner treats each one in turn. Then participants sit and relax for 20-40 minutes, with the needles in place, depending on their comfort level in a seated position and on the schedule of the organized group session. The treatment consists of five points on the outer ears and the use of single-use sterile needles, which are extremely flexible and about the diameter of a human hair. The five ear points address all levels of body, mind, and spirit and may help you to manage stress, sleep better, feel more peaceful and energized, let go of painful old emotions, and find your own inner sense of balance and calm. This NADA-based treatment protocol is currently being used across the USA to support veterans and active military personnel, as well as worldwide for victims of natural disasters and other traumatic events.
This protocol has been used extensively by the group Acupuncturists Without Borders (www.acuwithoutborders.org) to treat veterans as well as first responders and victims in disaster areas. The WRIISC-DC (War-Related Illness and Injury Study Center) has provided similar weekly group acupuncture therapy for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) combat veterans in the USA. Niemtzow and colleagues have used ear acupuncture and protocols similar to NADA in recent years as support for behavioral health, psychiatric care, and for trauma and pain, and standardized ear protocols are now being applied by mainstream U.S. military medics. 1,2,3 Acupuncture has also been demonstrated to be an effective treatment for PTSD in a recent study by Col. Charles C. Engel, MC at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and has been incorporated into the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program at Fort Hood, TX. Additionally, it is currently being studied by Michelle Kennedy Prisco, MSN , BC -ANP of the VA Medical Center in DC as a therapy for insomnia related to PTSD. More recently in 2015, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs also started a new Acupuncture Clinic for Veterans at the VA Butler Healthcare's main facility in Butler, PA.
In general, research evidence shows it is most beneficial to receive regular acupuncture treatments, but even one treatment or sporadic treatments can help; thus, feel free to attend a session whenever/wherever your schedule and clinic availability allow.
The Five NADA Ear Points and their Body-Mind-Spirit level of resonance when needled:
1) Sympathetic Nervous System – This point helps to calm the “fight or flight” response governed by the sympathetic nervous system, allowing one to relax into “rest and digest” mode (parasympathetic nervous system activation). It calms agitation and helps with feelings of hyper-vigilance. I often refer to this point as an 'earth' element point, when treating from a 5 Element model perspective. The earth in us represents our ability to obtain and maintain a sense of centeredness/groundedness along with our gifts such as thoughtfulness, understanding, and an affinity for service in the world.
2) Shen Men (often translated as "Spirit Gate") – This point has a calming effect and helps re-establish a connection with one’s spirit. It helps with insomnia, anxiety, depression, hypersensitivity, and general tension. This point is closely associated with the 'fire' element from a 5 Element perspective. The fire in us represents the illumination of our spirit within us and emanating from us (our Shen) and our heart-centered gifts such as passion, partnership, warmth and joy.
3) Kidney – This point helps reduce fearful, anxious feelings and assists in letting go of the after-effects of frightening experiences. It more specifically addresses the “flight” aspect of the “fight or flight” response and helps with frightening nightmares. It also supports all aspects of kidney function and is associated with the 'water' element from the 5 Element perspective. The water in us represents the deepest essence and strengths of who we are, including our gifts of wisdom, listening, and stillness, from where we can generate our greatest power as human beings.
4) Liver – This point helps in processing and letting go of angry, frustrated, and overly aggressive feelings. It more specifically addresses the “fight” aspect of “fight or flight” and helps with violent dreams. The Liver point promotes healthy coping skills, problem solving, and emotional and physical flexibility. It also supports all aspects of liver function and is associated with the 'wood' element from the 5 Element perspective. The wood in us represents gifts such as the commanding clarity, creativity and vision of a benevolent leader, along with compassion for humankind.
5) Lung – This point helps in processing feelings of grief and loss. It helps clear the body of toxic chemicals that have been inhaled and supports healthy lung function and breathing. It is associated with the 'metal' element from the 5 Element perspective. The metal in us represents our ability to breathe in life and light and let go of things that no longer serve us, along with our gifts of respect and acknowledgment of the people and things around us that provide us our greatest inspirations.
1 Niemtzow, R.C. (2011). Integrating acupuncture into military medicine: Strategies and challenges. Medical Acupuncture. 23(4), 203-204.
2 Niemtzow, R.C. Litscher, G., Burns, S.M., Helms, J.M. (2009). Battlefied Acupuncture: Update. Medical Acupuncture. 21, 1-4.
3 Niemtzow, R.C., Burns, S.M., Cooper, J. Libretto, S, Walter, J.A.G., Baxter. (2008). Acupuncture clinical pain trial in a military medical center: Outcomes. Medical Acupuncture. 20(4), 255-261. doi:10.1089/acu.2008.0594