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Ear Stapling, Mental Shifting and Placebo

I got a phone call this past week, asking if I do ear stapling for weight loss. I informed the caller that I don’t do ear stapling per se; I do ear acupuncture needling, along with body points, nutritional analysis, herbal supplementation and exercise counseling for weight loss. She was not interested in these services. She fully understood that ear stapling is a derivative of acupuncture, but had no interest in the medicine from which this technique came. She hung up in order to continue her search.

Does ear stapling work?

I don’t have any experience with it to know if it actually works. In my training and philosophy, in most cases, it would take more than a single staple in the ear to shift a person’s entire energy balance (homeostasis) from holding onto weight to releasing it. (This is why I combine ear acupuncture with body acupuncture, nutrition, herbs and exercise. ) But, I also don’t doubt that the power of the mind, belief and manifestation is incredible, and if a person is “ripe” for a mental shift, a staple in the ear might be enough support for them to make the changes necessary.

Mental Shift:

An example of this powerful mental shift is a friend of mine who was a “closet” smoker. She wanted to quit, and tried numerous times over many years. It was so difficult for her that she often found herself in tears over it…ashamed that she couldn’t overcome this addiction. Interestingly, however, the minute she found out she was pregnant, she quit smoking with ease, and without looking back. A mental shift occurred when she realized she was supporting a developing life. And it was this mental shift that made all the difference in her experience of her addiction. Any power that it once had over her was gone in an instant.


Now, in the case of the ear stapling, if it is the “mental shift” that has it be successful, this would be called “placebo” medicine. Interestingly, in Oriental Medicine there is no such thing as “placebo”. The mind, body and spirit are inseparable…you cannot affect one without affecting the others, AND there is nothing a person could possibly consume or experience that wouldn’t affect the body, mind or spirit in some way, though often not in a predictable way. So, placebo is a fallacy. In research studies involving “placebo”, it is a valid idea, but only in that there are specific results being sought and measured in comparison to something else. Though a placebo can’t exist in the big picture, when looking for a specific outcome, placebo is possible.

Another word about placebo: many people consider the whole medicine of acupuncture to be placebo. This is not valid. Look at how many animals respond so well to acupuncture. It has been used on racehorses for decades with great effect. Another example is a canine friend of mine, who received acupuncture treatment for a hip injury and allergies. After a 10-minute treatment, he rose to his feet no longer limping, and didn’t sneeze again for 2 weeks. Animals don’t have the burden of a mind full of judgments, opinions and beliefs to contend with, and oddly enough, they often respond more immediately to acupuncture than most humans do. This points to the idea that people’s minds are actually retarding the healing processes that acupuncture stimulates…the opposite of the placebo effect.

Dawn Potter, AP, Dipl.OM


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