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The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association's five-point protocol was developed by Michael Smith in the 1970s specifically for the treatment of addiction. Over time, NADA has expanded to help people deal with all types of stress. NADA volunteers set up tents at the sites of natural disasters to help survivors, practitioners use the technique everywhere from prisons to psychiatric wards, and companies hire acupuncturists to use NADA on their employees to help prevent burnout.
The beauty of NADA is in its simplicity. Five little points can rebalance the brain and the body's stress response, and it can be done almost anywhere. Before we discuss the points, though, you must understand a bit about auricular acupuncture.
What Is Auricular Acupuncture?
Auricular acupuncture - or ear acupuncture - is relatively "new" compared to the acupuncture of Traditional Chinese Medicine. While the ancient scholars of TCM alluded to the ear's connection to the rest of the body, the map of the ear as we know it today wasn't released until the 1900s. (While there are many interpretations out there, we prefer the one on this website as it's taken from a TCM textbook.)
The ear is a microcosm for the entire body, meaning points on it can be used to treat almost any condition. These points can be stimulated with acupuncture needles, but you also work them at home with the use of ear seeds or other tools. Ear seeds are just seeds attached to a piece of adhesive similar to a BandAid, and while they can be stuck on with the fingers or a tweezer, it's much easier to use a probe like the one below. (Alternatively, you could use the probe itself to apply pressure to a point for a short period of time.) Ear beads are almost a fashion item, consisting of a piece of gold, silver, or crystal on a clear adhesive instead of the traditional seed. Of course, you can also massage your ears with your fingers, but some of the points included within NADA can be hard to reach.
What Is the NADA Protocol?
The five points included within the NADA protocol are Shen Men (also called Neurogate), Sympathetic, Kidney, Liver, and Lung. Each may affect the body in a variety of different ways, but to keep it short and sweet:
- Shen Men: Shen Men is a special point that calms the mind, decreasing anxiety and racing thoughts and promoting restful sleep.
- Sympathetic: The sympathetic nervous system is better known as the "fight or flight" state in which the body is on high alert due to potential danger. This point helps to transition the body back into the "rest and digest" (parasympathetic) state.
- Kidney: In TCM, the Kidney organ system is the reservoir for energy and vital substances; if the body is rundown, it will start tapping into this reserve early. The Kidney system is most affected by the emotion of fear, and its influence extends into general growth and development as well as aging.
- Liver: The Liver is in charge of circulation, stores Blood, and detoxifies the myriad of harmful substances to which we are exposed every day. It is tied to the emotions of anger, frustration, irritability, and even general stress, so almost everyone could stand to do at least a little work on this organ system.
- Lung: The Lung system has an intimate connection with the act of breathing, which tends to become shallow and labored during times of stress. It's also deeply connected to the immune system and the emotions of sadness and grief in TCM.
While some of these points may resonate with you more than others, their combination is what makes NADA special. The three organs are heavily involved in detoxification, and an overwrought body needs a settled mind and restful state. If five points per ear seems like too much, try stimulating three on one ear and two on the other.
NADA has helped people around the world overcome addiction, trauma, and general stress, and it's easily available to anyone who wants to try it. "Nada" means "nothing" in Spanish, and the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association really wants their protocol to be nothing in the most positive sense of the word. Ask us about it the next time you're at the clinic, or branch out on your own by buying ear seeds or just massaging the spots with your fingers. It really is nothing when it comes down to it.
Kathleen Ketola is a Licensed Acupuncturist and the owner of Beachside Community Acupuncture. She loves providing affordable acupuncture to the residents of Addison, Dallas, and Farmers Branch, Texas, and educating the general public on how acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat everything from pain to infertility to stress and beyond. Click "Book Now" at the top of this page to book an appointment or feel free to contact her at (214) 417-2260.