EAR ACUPUNCTURE PROTOCOL MEETS GLOBAL NEEDS
Developed in the 1970s at Lincoln Hospital (Bronx, NY), the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol was originally used as a supportive component in drug and alcohol treatment settings. The 3-5 point ear acupuncture formula controlled withdrawal symptoms and helped patients become more clear-headed and comfortable. Nearly 1,000 licensed drug treatment programs use acupuncture in the U.S. according to federal N-SSATS statistics.
The 21st century has brought a remarkable expansion in the use of the NADA protocol. It is used in 130 prisons in England. Correction officers provide all the treatments under a 5 year training contract by Smart-UK. The jail program was expanded because of an 80% reduction in violent incidents. Post-trauma treatments have been given to community members after 9/11 and Katrina. Treatments for firemen have been permanently institutionalized in both cities. Ear acupuncture for stress has been used by thousands of para military ( Border Security Force) personnel in India through NADA-India.
NADA acupuncture has changed the face of psychiatric hospital care in Northern Europe. 3,000 nurses have been trained in 100 different government facilities. Refugee services in war-torn areas have been particularly impressive. The DARE program in Thailand has provided ear acupuncture for many years with a dozen different Burmese tribes in border camps. NADA was introduced during a 2 week training sponsored by Real Medicine Foundation in refugee camps in East Africa in May 2008. By the end of the year, 18,000 treatments were provided by the refugee trainees. Support was provided for survivors of a violent land dispute.
NADA members have used magnetic beads to treat children with ADHD and autism-spectrum disorders, and violence-prone adolescents. The beads are placed on the back of the ear opposite the shen men point. Bead remains in place with and adhesive 1-2 weeks at a time. Many instance of prolonged improvement have occurred, but this technique is only in an early stage of evaluation.
NADA acupuncture is used on a public health model. Treatments are commonly given in large groups on a frequent basis. Patients sit quietly for 45 minutes in a collective experience. Many jurisdictions have laws that allow a wide range of clinical personnel to be trained to use the NADA protocol in state approved facilities under general supervision of a fully licensed acupuncturist or physician. States that do not have this provision, such as Florida and California, have few NADA programs in comparison with states like Virginia and New York which do have this arrangement.
NADA uses 3-5 ear acupuncture points: sympathetic, shen men, lung, liver and kidney. In many settings only the first 3 points listed above are used. Results seem to be similar with 3 points, and there is less expense in Third World settings. NADA training also involves sterile precautions and social integration with other services. Apprenticeship training is always necessary because the clients are often troubled and distracted. NADA is a non-verbal approach. There are no diagnostic procedures. The ear points provide a balancing effect: some fall asleep; some feel relief of depression; some seem to be meditating. These balancing effects continue from one to several days even though the patient may be exposed to contrasting emergencies during that time. It is a coping and preventive effect. As an added note, Lincoln used electro acupuncture extensively in the 70s. Symptom relief lasted 6-8 hours. Our patients always preferred the prolonged preventive effects of manual acupuncture.
NADA acupuncture adds a valuable component to the behavioral health fields. Its worldwide validation strengthens the entire acupuncture profession.
Dr. Michael O. Smith
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