Acupuncture for Tinnitus - Treatment Protocols

General Approaches

Acupuncture For Tinnitus - Treatment Protocols

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 tinnitus, one might find one or a combination of the following patterns: heart blood deficiency, heart yin deficiency, kidney jing deficiency, kidney yin deficiency, liver fire, lung qi deficiency, phlegm fire among many other possibilities and possible combinations.

Below you will find some of the more common tcm diagnoses and acupuncture treatment protocols for tinnitus. 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.

  • Differentiation:
  • LV/GB Fire Rising
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Sudden onset, can be loud, related to emotional stress
      • Signs of heat, thirst, red face, constipation, bitter taste
      • Possibly headache, dizziness, irritability
      • Tongue: red w/yellow coat, red sides
      • Pulse: wiry, fast
    • Treatment Protocol:
      • Drain the LV Fire
      • Ease the ears
      • Calm the mind
      • Settle the ethereal soul
    • Treatment Points:
      • LV 2 - drain the LV Fire
      • GB 20 - LV Yang, ease the ear, calm the mind
      • GB 8 - LV Yang, ease the ear
      • TH 3 a/or TH 5 - LV Yang
      • GB 43 - water point of GB, bring energy down, ease the ear
  • Phlegm Fire Rising Upwards
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Signs of phlegm, chest oppression, fuzzy head, sputum in chest a/or postnasal drip, thirst
      • Sound that resembles crickets, possible hearing loss
      • Tongue: red, swollen, greasy yellow coat
      • Pulse: rapid, slippery
    • Treatment Protocol:
      • Resolve phlegm
      • Drain Fire
      • Subdue LV Yang
      • Regulate the ascending of the clear Qi and the descending of the turbid Qi
    • Treatment Points:
      • ST 40 - resolve phlegm
      • CV 12 - resolve phlegm, tonify ST/SP
      • CV 9 - remove dampness
      • SP 9 - remove dampness
      • UB 20 - SP Mu, tonify ST/SP
      • ** You may not want to strongly tonify SP until the acute phlegm excess is resolved
      • GB 20 - descend Qi and Fire
      • TH 3 a/or TH 5 - clear ear area
      • LI 4 - if fuzzy a/or heavy head present
      • TH 21, SI 19, GB 2 - benefit ear
  • KD Jing Deficiency
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Common in elderly people, combination of hearing loss w/ringing, gradual onset, low pitched sound (can be high pitched)
      • Dizziness, poor memory, head feels light/empty, possibly blurred vision
      • Sore back/knees, diminished sexual desire/performance
      • May also see some HT symptoms - mental restlessness, insomnia a/or LV Yang rising signs - irritability, dizziness
      • Can be from KD Yin Deficiency or KD Yang Deficiency - tongue and pulse will reflect this
      • Tongue: if KD Yang - pale
        if KD Yin - red
      • Pulse: if KD Yang - deep, weak
        if KD Yin - floating, empty
    • Treatment Protocol:
      • Tonify KD
    • Treatment Points:
      • KD 3 - tonify KD & Jing
      • CV 4 - tonify KD & Jing
      • UB 23 - KD Shu, tonify KD & Jing
      • GB 2 - benefit ear
      • GV 4 - moxa to tonify yang
      • if insomnia add - SP 6, HT 6, KD 7 - nourish yin, calm liver, benefit heart
      • if LV Yang rising add - LV 3
  • Upper Burner Deficiency
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • LU a/or HT deficiencies, fatigue, SOB w/exertion, pale face, spontaneous sweating
      • Intermittent ringing, mild, gradual onset
      • Tongue: pale w/teethmarks
      • Pulse: empty esp. in LU position
    • Treatment Protocol:
      • Tonify LU Qi
      • Promote rising of clear Qi to the head
    • Treatment Points:
      • CV 17 - tonify upper warmer
      • LU 9 - tonify LU
      • UB 13 - LU Shu, tonify LU
      • CV 6 - tonify Qi
      • GV 20 - raise Qi to the head
      • TH 16 - window of sky, sudden deafness, tinnitus
      • SI 19 - benefit ear
  • Heart Blood Deficiency
    • Signs & Symptoms:
      • Intermittent ringing, gradual onset, low pitch/volume
      • Dull/pale face (Blood def.)
      • HT signs possible, palpitations, insomnia, poor memory, anxiety
      • Tongue: pale, likely thin (could be swollen if Qi def. is leading towards Blood def.)
      • Pulse: weak or choppy esp. in first position
    • Treatment Protocol:
      • Tonify HT
      • Nourish Blood
    • Treatment Points:
      • HT 5 - tonify HT
      • UB 15 - HT Shu, tonify HT
      • CV 17 - effects HT Qi and to a lesser extent Blood
      • CV 14 - HT Mu, tonify HT
      • PC 6 - tonify HT Blood
      • SP 6 - tonify HT Blood
      • SI 19 - benefit ear

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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