By Jackie Christensen, BS, HHP, NC, MH
Faculty Member of GCNM
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the ear represents
a microcosm of the body. Ear seed therapy is a practice that utilizes
this wisdom by applying pressure to specific points found on the ear
help to regulate internal functions. Ear seed therapy, also known as
auricular therapy, uses the application of small round seeds to
various areas on the outer ear to stimulate acupressure points. Seeds
are taped and left on the ears so that the client may press on the
points to apply additional stimulation if needed.
From the Taoism philosophy, there are six major yang meridians and
six major yin meridians. Classical acupuncture recognizes that the
yang meridians are directly connected to the external ear. When these
energy lines are blocked or congested, it manifests into some
pathology in a specific area of the body. Applying pressure to
specific points on the ear can relieve the symptoms and underlying
cause of a particular health problem by moving energy. The meridian
energy lines that are connected to the external ear have created the
field of ear seed therapy.
Another perspective of ear seeding focuses not on the acupuncture
meridians, but on the ear as a localized reflex system connected to
the central . This concept postulates that nerves in
the skin overlie specific areas of the external ear that correspond
to specific parts of the brain, which has reflex connections to the
Ear seed therapy has an extensive history of use throughout China
and is even mentioned in the infamous The Yellow Emperor’s Classic
of Internal Medicine. In modern practice, ear seed therapy has been
used to stimulate the body to release endorphins. Therefore, it has
widely been used for many conditions, such as addiction treatment,
mood disorders, obesity, and pain. Abundant research has supported
the use of ear acupuncture for pain relief and addiction treatment.
As more research accumulates on the efficacy of ear seeding, it is
expected to grow in popularity.
The practitioner may use ear seeds to stimulate the points on the
ears. The seeds that are used are small seeds that come from the
Vaccaria plant, which grows in China and Southern Europe. The whole
plant is harvested in the summer and dried in the sun. The seeds are
then removed from their shells and dried again. The seeds can be used
raw or dried further. The seeds are then applied to the ears with tape
and may be left on the ears for up to several weeks. During times of
imbalance or needed support, one can simply press on the seeds for
additional relief. Some experts recommend pressing on the seeds at
least three times daily for a short time.
Ear seed therapy is generally incorporated into an acupuncture
program; however it can be inducted by a variety of practitioners.
While the insertion of acupuncture needles into any part of the body
requires approved training in acupuncture, anyone can learn ear
acupressure points and reflexology by placing firm but gentle
pressure on the relevant regions of the ear.
Schiffke, Heather. “Ear Acupuncture .” Acupuncture.Com. Cyber Legend
Ltd., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2012.