According to a study published in the JAMA (Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine), ear acupuncture or auricular acupuncture can be a viable treatment for sleeping difficulties/insomnia. Researchers who conducted the study collected data from 6 controlled randomized trials, which were all done in Hong Kong or mainland China. One was in English and five were in Chinese. Four hundred two (402) out of the six hundred seventy three (673) participants were given auricular acupuncture therapy. Western medication was used in the control group in four of the trials, standard routine unit care in one trial, and fake auricular acupuncture was given in one trial also.
Results at the end of the study showed the group treated with auricular acupuncture experienced better improvement compared to the control group. In addition, auricular acupuncture generated a higher rate of recovery insomnia compared to the Western medication group that used diazepam. The choice of treatment of those researchers over the control treatments for augmenting sleep durations to 6 hours per night as well as for preventing sleep disruptions during the night, and for feeling fresh and filled with energy upon waking was auricular acupuncture.
The drug Diazepam is a commonly used intervention therapy for treating insomnia, anxiety, alcohol withdrawal and seizures. It was first sold under the name Valium.
No conclusions have been made about the efficacy of long-term insomnia treatment of auricular acupuncture because of the lack of follow-up information. The same lack of information was also cited with regard to the negative side effects and safety of administering auricular acupuncture for the treatment of insomnia.
A typical condition marked by problems staying and falling asleep, insomnia is usually associated with functional disablement while awake. Mechanical disablement during the day related to insomnia includes irritability, drowsiness, occupational impairment and depression.
Based on a WHO (World Health Organization) study, 16 percent of those surveyed said they had problems falling asleep and a quarter said they either woke up too early or had problems staying asleep. Estimates gathered by the U.S. Dep’t Health and Human Services show that about 60 million US citizens suffer from insomnia, with men accounting for 30 percent and women, 40 percent.
Scott Paglia is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist in Bellingham, WA and provides master level pulse diagnosis, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture in Whatcom County, WA.