The development of hypertension or high blood pressure development is an ongoing and long term process. If not treated, hypertension can lead to damage to the kidneys, eyes, brain, heart, and blood vessels without causing any symptoms. Only until a life-threatening problem appears, most people wouldn’t even be aware of their blood pressure condition. In 2013, the World Health Organization released a statement saying, hypertension affects a third of the adult (people 25 years age and above) population all over the world. That’s one in three adults. This means that hypertension is responsible for almost 9.4 million deaths each year.
Fortunately, hypertension is both treatable and preventable, and along with early detection, long term management and aggressive treatment is essential.
Lots of alternative and complementary therapies are available for preventing and treating hypertension. One popular form of Chinese treatment is auricular stimulation which involves the stimulation of specific acupuncture points on the ears. These points are associated with the various organ systems in the body. The ears, in TCM, (traditional Chinese medicine) are intimately related to the internal organs and not merely for hearing. In TCM, the ears are regarded as an important part of the body for medical diagnosis and treatment, activating the acupoints on the ears can lead to local or general effects. The manner by which the ear acupoints are stimulated can be achieved by moxa heating, pressure, bloodletting, injection, electricity, or needling.
TCM practitioners use auricular stimulation for a number of conditions. It is a simple process and quite easy to apply. The most common selected acupoints for lowering BP and hypertension are the adrenal gland, sympathetic, shen men, kidney, liver, and heart points. The following are some of the more popular auricular stimulation techniques for hypertension:
Magnetic bead pressing technique
Choose magnetic beads with a magnetic intensity of (400G) or (0.04 teslae) around and a size of 1 ½ to 2.0 mm in diameter. Prepare three groups of acupoints: lowering BP notch; kidney and liver and heart and shen men. Every week, place the beads on both ears and on one ear. Measure blood pressure for records prior to replacing the magnetic patches; halt the treatment if no improvement is seen after 9 weeks.
Seed pressing technique
White mustard seed or vaccaria seed are seeds used for this technique mainly because they are tiny enough to precisely place on the ear acupoint. The seed can serve to reduce blood pressure, alleviate pain, to calm down and to treat cramps. Depending on the sickness, the seeds are held in place with adhesive tape on certain points of the ears. They may be left in place for a few days or weeks. The person should regularly press these seeds to generate a therapeutic effect.
For hypertension, commonly used points for activation are on both eyes, occipital, forehead, lowering BP notch, liver, and ear eyes apex. The site of treatment and the tool should be sterilized and cleaned before the operation. In one ear, choose three to four acupoints. Place the seed patches on them, and press for half a minute in order to make the areas turn red, and feel pain and heat. Advise the patient to perform that at home for 5 minutes, pressing for four to eight times a day every three days. Replace the patches on other side, and measure your blood pressure for recording.
Also known as “blood-letting acupuncture” this process often use as tool a three-edged needle. Some people believe that applying the right techniques to release a few drops of blood can enhance the localized vital energy or chi and circulation, which is helpful to issues such as head symptoms, restless mind, hyperactive organs, blood stasis, pain, swelling, and buildup of toxic heat.
The site of treatment and tool should be sterilized and cleaned prior to the operation. In treating hypertension, make the veins congested by rubbing the back of the ear. Then prick quickly on a vein and gently squeeze gently to release four to five drops of blood. Then, stop bleeding by applying pressure on the punctured acupoint with a clean swab. You can do this every 2 days, insert needle on alternative side ten times as one course. This therapy is not recommended for pregnant women, hypotension, anemia, and bleeding problem.
Choose acupoints such as heart, lowering BP notch, shen men, and adrenal gland. Sterilize one ear and activate with 13mm or 25mm needles. Stick the needle into the cartilage and then quickly twirl for half a minute. It’s important not to penetrate through the ear. Leave the needle in place for twenty to thirty minutes to promote further manipulation and to boost stimulation. After treatment and to prevent bleeding, press the acupoint with a cotton ball for a short while; then sterilize again. Stimulate on both ears or on one ear every two days or every day. Intradermal needles can be used instead if people cannot get treatment on time due to work, which can take about two to four days. Remind the person to apply pressure on the patches many times a day.
Although considered a very safe treatment, auricular therapy should not be used on people with skin problems or if their ears are damaged or inflamed or if they suffer from infections, sores, and ulcers. In addition, for needling procedures auricular therapy should not be used on pregnant women, and for people with anemia, and people who have a tendency to bleed. This therapy can attain a better healing outcome when it’s combined with other healing modalities.