Although it may be hard to imagine, acupuncture is a very broad modality. Every acupuncturist will have a slightly different way of treating each person – it is one of the many reasons I love what I do! There are the 365 primary acupuncture points that are located on 12 channels that encompass the entire body. Beyond that, there are microsystems that can be found around the eye, the wrist, and the thumb to name a few. These are areas that can treat the entire body through a very small area. One of the most utilized microsystems is in the ear. With over 300 points in the ear alone, there are regions of the ear that correspond to the skeletal system, internal organs, brain, and nervous system.
The National Acupuncture Detox Association found that five of these ear points can be an extremely powerful treatment for people suffering from a variety of different addictions. The military did similar studies and found that these same five points can be useful for soldiers who suffer from anxiety and PTSD, in fact they have found that soldiers who receive these points on the battlefield are less likely to have lasting effects of PTSD in their everyday lives.
I was recently having a conversation with a friend who mentioned that she was suffering from acute palpitations while we were talking. We didn’t have time to do a full treatment, but she agreed to receive these five points and after 10-20 minutes, the palpitations had completely dissipated…Wow!
These points are obviously extremely potent. Over the last 6 months, I have started using them in almost every treatment, along with points on the body specifically chosen based on the conversations, symptoms, pulse, and emotional state of each individual. Since adding this modality to my practice more regularly, I have found that these treatments are more stabilizing and longer lasting for most people.
So, what are these “magical” five points? It has been coined the name “NADA protocol” and includes 3 internal organ points (Lung, Liver, and Kidney), one point for the nervous system (Autonomic) and one point to help calm the mind (Shenmen).
Lung, Liver, Kidney: These organs are three of the primary Yin organs in Chinese Medicine. The Lung Point is about encouraging a full and deep breath. By just doing that, the body will start to function more effectively and begin to calm itself down – much easier said than done, I know ☺ The Liver’s job is to filter toxins out of our blood stream and into the Kidneys for excretion.
Autonomic: This point refers to the autonomic nervous system – that is the part of our nervous system that regulates all the things that we don’t regulate ourselves, such as breathing, heart beat, and digestive processes. This is the part of the nervous system that determines what systems the body needs to function in a dangerous or stressful situation versus how our body functions while we sleep or rest. Because of the pace in our society and our personal experiences (whether that is real or media-based experiences) many of us spend much of our life in a chronic state of stress or ‘fight or flight’. This point helps to pull us out of the ‘fight or flight’ response and into the ‘rest and digest’ state.
Shenmen: This is a Chinese term (English-ized, of course) that roughly means “calm the mind.” It is simply a point added to this mix that helps to bring calmness to the mind and body.
These five points can make profound changes to people’s lives. That being said, like any kind of acupuncture, it is not a one-time thing. Typically if receiving only the NADA protocol, I suggest seeking treatment 2-3 times per week. When adding this protocol to a full and individual based treatment, I recommend it 1-2 times per week to start, although every individual responds differently to treatments.
**When using the NADA protocol to help with drug and alcohol detoxification I can only recommend it when also under the care of a therapist, counselor and/or primary care physician.