Acupuncture for Ear Infections and Inflammations

General Approaches

Acupuncture For Ear Infections And Inflammations

Acupuncture treatment protocols are generally directed towards the deeper root of a persons set of health issues, not at each individual issue. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, treatment is generally directed towards the individuals diagnostic pattern(s) and their primary issue is only a part of the information required to approach the correct patterns to treat (see "treating the cause vs. the symptoms" for an introduction to this process.).

In designing an acupuncture protocol for ear problems, one might find one or a combination of the following patterns: liver and gallbladder damp heat, liver fire, lung wind invasion - wind cold, lung wind invasion - wind heat among many other possibilities and possible combinations.

Below you will find some of the more common tcm diagnoses and acupuncture treatment protocols for ear infections and inflammations. There are many ways to approach the treatment of this condition within TCM. Our presentation describes foundational approaches that would need to be further tailored in most cases to be effective for a given individual.

  • Etiology & Pathology:
    • 3 Main Designations (pathologies are a combination of these):
      1. Presentation:
        • Catarrhal (inflammation) - little or no discharge (if there is it is clear)
        • Purulent (discharge) - thick yellow, often foul smelling discharges
      2. Acute or Chronic
        • Can be chronic with periods of acute attacks
      3. Exterior or Interior
        • Exterior - wind, wind-heat, dampness
        • Interior - LV heat (emotions), LV/GB damp-heat (diet)
  • Acute Pathologies (catarrhal or purulent)
    • Acute Catarrhal
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Sudden onset
      • Exterior etiologies: wind, wind blowing on the ear, swimming, infection
      • Internal etiologies: upper respiratory infection that spreads to the ear (wind-heat)
      • Ear feels stuffy, distended, full, mild pain, clear fluid in ear canal, ringing a/or buzzing
      • Chills/fever, headache, dizziness, nasal discharge
      • LV/GB heat from emotional factors possible
      • Tongue: Red w/yellow coat
      • Pulse: Wiry, fast, possibly slippery
    • Treatment: (see Acute Treatment Points below)
    • Acute Purulent
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Exterior etiologies: wind-heat
        • Similar to wind-heat OPI, more fever than chills, headache, body ache, more heat and more discharge with exterior condition
        • Tongue: Red tip
        • Pulse: Floating, rapid
      • Interior etiologies: LV/GB damp-heat
        • Swollen and painful ear, lots of discharge from ear
        • Dry stools, constipation, headache
        • Tongue: Red w/yellow greasy coat
        • Pulse: Wiry, slippery
      • Treatment: (see Acute Treatment Points below)
    • Acute Treatment Points:
      • Main Points:
      • Exterior Acute Catarrhal - add LI 4 - release exterior, clear wind
      • Interior Acute Catarrhal - could use TH 3 instead of TH 5 above (3 is more interior, 5 is more exterior); could use GB 40 instead of GB 41 above (40 is more interior)
      • Exterior Acute Pirulent - add LI 4, LI 11 & GV 14 - release the exterior
      • Interior Acute Pirulent - clear dampness and heat - SP 9, GB 34 & LV 13
      • If emotional imbalances - add LV 3
  • Chronic Catarrhal

The information on our site is drawn from our own lecture notes and clinical experience. The following lecture notes were consulted within this section:

  • St. John, Meredith: New England School of Acupuncture, Etiology and Pathology Lecture Notes
  • Valaskatgis, Peter: New England School of Acupuncture, Etiology and Pathology Lecture Notes

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