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Freedom from Cravings - Acupuncture Detox

Cailey Halloran, L.Ac., Dipl. O.M.

“Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” ― Mick Jagger

What a perfect quote to describe the holidays! The ’tis the season attitude is in full effect. Why eat one cookie when you can have a DOZEN?! Or have one drink when you can have three, or four, or five? No one can deny the legend of Mick Jagger. He always looks like he is having best time. But we can also see the wear and tear on his face and body from his years of overdoing it. My Chinese herbal theory instructor always described a particular herb as the “Mick Jagger herb.” The herb, “Mo Han Lian,” (common name Field Lotus Herb) treats premature greying of the hair, loss of vision, dry hair and skin; and is great for anyone who may have partied a little too hard for too long. For some, there is a fine line between being a bit excessive, and being out of control. For those who have gone over the line, it affects their lives, and also has a ripple effect, touching all of their loved ones. One of my biggest passions is working with people who have addictions, or anyone feeling overpowered by substances. I see how hard it is for people who want to quit and falter; and I understand it is a tough and challenging endeavor. As an acupuncturist, I know acupuncture can help with the physiologic withdrawal symptoms associated with addiction. Acupuncture also offers continued, ongoing support to reduce stress and therefore lesson the possibility of relapse. Here at the Acupuncture Clinic of Boulder we also offer suggestions and resources to help you be successful in your goals to recovery and curb those cravings. The holiday season, and the new year, is the perfect time to hit the reset button!

Now is the time to reflect on this past year’s trials, tribulations, and successes and to set intentions for the coming year. What do we want to change, improve, or remain the same? How can we work to encourage and inspire our own life and health, and also contribute in a positive way to those around us? One of my favorite parts about being an acupuncturist is to help define goals with patients and monitor their progress. I also love seeing patients leave an acupuncture treatment feeling more relaxed and with a greater sense of well-being than when they walked into the clinic. Lately, I have been focusing my energy and intention on helping patients with addictions by using an ear protocol, called the NADA Protocol. The NADA Protocol was developed in the 1970’s at the Lincoln Hospital in South Bronx, NYC. I view this protocol as the reset button for the body and mind.

The protocol is a five point ear treatment that has been used for over forty years as a treatment to help reduce cravings, minimize withdrawal symptoms, increase calmness, improve sleep and promote a greater connection to recovery and healing. Additionally, one study in England concluded that the protocol significantly decreases hot flashes and night sweats. The protocol is so prevalently used that federal statistics show over five hundred addiction programs in the United States use some form of acupuncture. In my own practice, I have observed a difference in the demeanor of many patients when these five points are used, versus when I chose to omit, or use different ear points. In a deeper exploration of the NADA protocol, I discovered there are seasonal, or elemental connections, or correspondence with these five points.

In Chinese Medical theory there are five elements. Each element has different associations including specific seasons, organs, colors, smells, even types of weather associated with each element. When someone comes to the clinic with specific signs and symptoms, we consider these associations to help our diagnosis. The NADA protocol represents fire/summer/heart, earth/late summer/spleen, metal/fall/lungs, water/winter/kidney, and wood/spring/liver. The protocol harmonizes all five elements and their associated organs, and balances the body. Below is a list of each point and its profound effect on the body.

The NADA Protocol:

  • Sympathetic: Relates to the Spleen/Earth element, calms and relaxes the nervous system

  • Shen Men: Relates to Heart/Fire element, helps reduce anxiety, clears heat and inflammation from the body, reduces pain

  • Kidney Point: Relates to the Kidney/Water element, calms fears, improves sleep and urinary issues

  • Lung Point: Relates to the Lung/Metal element, helps to let go of grief, improves respiration and vents heat

  • Liver Point: Relates to the Liver/Wood element, helps the body detox, circulates blood and calms anger Helping people overcome addiction and find useful, joyful, coping mechanisms is a passion of mine.

In my quest to understand and help improve the lives of those with addictions, I volunteer with Natural Highs in Boulder. This program, run by Avani Dilger, a therapist, is particularly inspiring to me because it explains the neuroscience behind substance abuse. Patients struggling with addiction learn which neurotransmitters are stimulated by specific substances, and how they can stimulate these same neurotransmitters naturally. With this powerful information, Dilger finds rates of recovery improve. In her class, Dilger regularly includes the NADA Protocol and acupuncture treatments so participants can experience firsthand relief from stress, anxiety, and cravings. Natural Highs is offered to adults at Naropa and to local Boulder high school students as an after school program. I would encourage anyone who feels they need a reset for the new year, some encouragement on their healing path, or help with any addiction to come in an experience the power of the NADA protocol.

We are here and would love to help you!

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