PMS and Ear Seeds
What Are Ear Seeds and Auricular Acupressure?
When we think about reducing the discomfort associated with PMS, you probably won’t think about your ears, or that they’ll be able to help in any way. However, ear seeds — small metal studs used to stimulate pressure points on the ear — can help ease discomfort associated with PMS. Ear seeds, when combined with auricular acupressure (a Chinese tradition that involves pressing specific points of the ear) prompt changes in other parts of the body.
What are Menstrual Cramps?
Menstrual cramps — also known as dysmenorrhea — are something that millions of individuals experience every month. It may be a minor discomfort that some people find annoying, while for others it can be so severe that it interrupts their daily life. Signs and symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea may include:
- Pain that runs to the lower back and thighs
- Dull or throbbing pain in the lower abdomen
Getting relief from the pain of menstrual cramps can often be achieved by getting over the counter pain relievers or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs prescribed by your doctor. For secondary dysmenorrhea, however, easing the pain requires treatment for the underlying cause. If you are experiencing very painful or prolonged menstrual cycles, please consult your doctor.
Why Use Ear Seeds for Menstrual Cramps?
Research managed by the Yongchun Hospital in China compared the results of ear seeds against a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug called Indomeixin. The results showed that ear seeds were more effective at providing relief than the drug. Furthermore, the ear seeds had a longer-term therapeutic effect while also having no known harsh side-effects which can be found with the drug.
Another study showed how researchers attached ear seeds to six ear acupoints that affect menstrual cramps. In this study, 100 female high school seniors were tested for 48 hours starting from the onset of their period. Each student was instructed to press the seeds for at least one minute four times a day. At the end of the study, most students expressed a "significant" relief from pain as a result.
Auricular Acupuncture Therapy for Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
In March 2009, yet another study was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. This investigated the effects of auricular acupressure for relieving primary dysmenorrhea. In this Taiwanese study, ear seeds were placed on these points:
The researchers found that participants with primary dysmenorrhea experienced substantial menstrual pain relief from wearing and stimulating their ear seeds. Because of this, auricular acupressure was determined to be a noninvasive complementary therapy for women with menstrual pains.
You can place ear seeds up to 5 days before your period starts.
Once applied, you can press and rub the ear seeds throughout the day to trigger the pressure points.. The ear seeds can be worn for 3-5 days and once they fall off, you can repeat the procedure after allowing your ears to rest for at least 24 hours.
Auricular Acupressure at Home
Since the diameter of acupoints on the ear are small, applying ear seeds is one of the most effective applications for point stimulation. These small seeds or metal beads are held in place with adhesive tape. You can use them for a few days before they eventually come off on their own. It is best to press the beads periodically to stimulate the point.
Auricular Acupressure Tips
Before buying your own set of ear seeds, here are some things to consider:
- Only use ear seeds that follow safety regulations and are contained in sterile packaging.
- Take the time to learn the locations of the points you want to use. Ask an acupuncturist or look for an auricular acupressure chart to practice how to find the pressure points on different shaped ears.
- Before sticking the seeds into your ear, make sure they are clean and free of residue. It's best to use individually packaged alcohol pads, witch hazel, or rubbing alcohol.
- Apply pressure throughout the day and remove the seeds if it is causing irritation.
- Wear the ear seeds for a maximum of 5 days. Wearing for longer does not provide more symptom relief, and it can cause skin irritation.
To ease discomfort associated with PMS, auricular and traditional acupressure are suitable supplements to other traditional treatments. Ear seeds are meant to be a complementary treatment to support you through your menstrual cycle. They can be used in conjunction with over the counter pain relievers, heating pads, Epsom salt baths, exercise, and a healthy diet to tackle PMS! As always, if you are experiencing very heavy or painful periods, please consult your doctor.