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Ear acupressure is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a practice used for more than 2000 years, and is considered a form of alternative medicine in the West. The uses for ear acupressure include weight loss, relief from pain and allergies as well as other imbalances in the system. Acupressure is made up of two words, acupuncture and pressure. As opposed to acupuncture, acupressure uses fingers or objects to apply pressure as opposed to needles.
Ear acupressure practitioners typically press their fingers, or in some instances .1 cm (1 mm) steel balls, on over one hundred acupoints, or places in and around the ear that correspond to different parts of the body. The theory of ear acupressure is that these acupoints connect not only to organs, but also to meridians, or channels in the body in which energy, or qi, flows. Practitioners believe pressing on these points will alleviate or heal symptoms in the corresponding body parts.
Some believers in ear acupressure point to the similarities between the ear's appearance and the downward curled position of a fetus in the womb. The acupoints on the earlobe correspond to parts of the mouth and face; the middle ear corresponds to the internal organs located in the torso; and the upper part of the outer ear, or auricle, links to the ankles and feet.
To prevent overeating, ear acupressure for weight loss can be used by applying direct pressure to the front of the ear in the depression that is made when the jaw is open. This is commonly called the appetite control point. It is suggested that pressure be applied for a few minutes about fifteen minutes prior to having a meal.
It is also believed by many that stress is a contributing factor to weight gain. Massaging the whole ear is a form of ear acupressure that requires no knowledge of acupoint positions. It is also considered by TCM and other holistic and alternative medicine practitioners to promote a feeling of wellness and reduce the desire for unhealthy foods. There are three methods commonly used to massage the ear: kneading, rubbing and pulling.
Kneading, or alternatively squeezing and releasing the outer ear between the thumb and index finger is said to improve fatigue. Rubbing the entire ear between two fingers or with the palm is considered a stress reducer, and pulling on the ear from the earlobe to the top of the ear is believed to increase blood circulation and energy levels.
The use of ear acupressure for allergic rhinitis, common allergies due to airborne irritants such as dust or pollen, is also growing in popularity. Applying pressure to the earlobe may offer relief from the sinus pain such allergies cause. Acupressure may also help relieve food allergies as well.
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