Listen up! Ear acupuncture is good for your heart
They come in all shapes and sizes and they’re responsible for delivering one of your five senses, but there’s more to the ears than just the ability to hear. Used with acupuncture, they can also be the key to better wellbeing.
Not that long ago, scientists in China and Austria discovered a clear link between ear acupuncture – also known as auricular acupuncture and auriculotherapy – and improved heart health.
That may sound strange to some of you. After all, what have the ears got to do with your heart?
But then, what has any part of your body got to do with any other part of your body? To answer that question, and the one about the impact of acupuncture on your heart, you need to think about your anatomy and biological make-up in a slightly different way.
To take a well-used analogy that we’ve probably all resorted to at some stage, imagine your body as a car.
In a car, all of the things that make it move are connected in some way. The engine might be seen as a car’s heart and the other key components – clutch, brakes etc. – might be the equivalent of the body’s other major organs.
Then there are parts that aren’t necessarily entirely crucial when it comes to the car’s ability to move, but which, when impaired, have a detrimental impact on its performance – tyres and exhaust, for example.
Pipes take important fluid – brake fluid, hydraulic fluid, fuel and water – to these components to make them work. Think of those as the car’s vascular system.
In order to create energy – or momentum – all of these parts work together in a way that’s entirely connected. You turn a key (or, these days, more likely push a starter button) which starts a chain reaction that leads to fuel igniting to run the engine that allows you to move.
The body is no different. Just like your car, everything that’s vital to keeping it running is connected.
When a car engine starts to run unevenly it’s easy to assume it’s a problem with the engine itself. But in fact it could be something else entirely – a blockage in the exhaust system, sediment in a fuel pipe, a short circuit in the wiring loom.
Sorting the symptom (a spluttering engine) may mean working on a different part of the car.
When you have a pain in your hip, it’s easy to assume the problem is something within the hip.
But just as an engine problem in a car isn’t always caused by the engine, so a problem with your hip could actually be an issue in your knee, or your spine or even your shoulder. So, you treat the cause to relieve the symptom.
Acupuncture does this by stimulating and rebalancing the body’s natural energy flow – known as Qi – by inserting superfine needles into one or more of the many acupuncture points located around the body.
It turns out that if you have issues with heart health, the ear is the body component that can have a positive effect on tackling them.
The Austro-Chinese research I mentioned earlier in this article discovered that auricular acupuncture can be beneficial in helping to improve Heart Rate Variability (HRV) which is a measure of how effectively and efficiently the body regulates the intervals between heartbeats.
Clinically, patients who suffer with congenital heart conditions, some types of diabetes and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are also more likely to suffer with low HRV.
Auriculotherapy is a growing field of acupuncture, having first come to wider public attention in the second half of the last century though the work of celebrated French scientist Paul Nogier.
Needling the ear can be quite painful, so at The Acupuncturists we use electro-acupuncture on the ear, using a device that emits a tiny electrical charge to replicate the use of needles. Electro-acupuncture is so painless that we use it on children.
We also use auricular acupuncture to treat a range of non-heart related conditions that include common issues like anxiety, insomnia, hay fever, migraine and headaches and back pain.
At The Acupuncturists, we’re delighted to offer ear acupuncture in addition to more general acupuncture and cosmetic acupuncture.
If you’d like to find out more about how auricular acupuncture can benefit your health, particularly if you have a family history of heart disease or you’re concerned about heart health, please get in touch – we’d love to provide you with all the information needed to make an informed decision about protecting your wellbeing.