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A:  The evidence for the use of acupuncture treatment for hearing loss is patchy. There have been a number of small but relatively inconclusive studies, but the focus of each has been very specific, not simply a generalised loss of hearing but a specific physical or neurological cause. On the basis of this we would have to be very guarded in our recommendations.
 
However, hearing loss has been around since ancient times, and the Chinese medicine practitioners of the last 2000 years have addressed it in a number of ways based on their understanding of how the energy of the body, called 'qi', promotes and maintains the faculty of hearing. If any of the aspects of the system which work together to provide this faculty are injured or weakened, then someone's hearing may be affected.
 
In practical terms, this might mean that there are clearly discernible patterns which a practitioner might see quickly and be able to offer you some encouragement. Even in the absence of clearly identifiable patterns there may still be some hope of change; chinese medicine is based on the balance of the system as a whole, and although symptoms are important they are not the same as the problem, simply a manifestation of the deeper underlying imbalances. Someone working at this kind of level might also be able to help.
 
However, we have to say that acupuncture treatment does not have a highly convincing track record in treatment hearing loss because the majority of causes are to do with the nerves or physical changes in the ear, and neither is likely to be amenable to treatment. That does not mean it is not worth visiting a BAcC member local to you for advice; it is always worthwhile getting a face to face assessment of what someone believes they may be able to achieve, and it is possible they may see more cause for optimism than you are getting here.
 
As far as ear wax is concerned, syringing is always the best option, or Hopi ear candles if you want to try something slightly alternative. We are not aware of any acupuncture treatment that can guarantee to help this, and the conventional options are simple and effective.
 



Q:  I have a weak tongue, clicking jaw and slurred speech.  I have had numerous tests and scans but no cause has been found.

A:  Based on the very brief details you have given us it is not very easy to offer a very informed view. The fact that you have had a number of tests and scans which have shown nothing is very encouraging - this rules out serious underlying pathologies. However, a great depends on how the problem originated, and a description of this might give more clues about how treatable it is with acupuncture.
 
The weak tongue and the slurring of speech superficially point to some kind of neurological involvement, but the factor that interests us as professionals is the clicking jaw. The tempero-mandibular joint by the ear is a notoriously unstable joint, and is quite often dislocated or dislodged by crunching the teeth on something very hard or by things like long dentistry sessions. Although many BAcC members use local acupuncture points to help restore the flow in the area, many would refer someone on to a cranial osteopath, for whom this kind of manipulation and correction is a part of their normal scope of practice.
 
This does not man that it is not worth visiting a BAcC member local to you for advice. There may be aspects of your overall balance which, from a Chinese medicine perspective, make sense of your symptoms, and they may be able to offer you an informed view, based on a brief face to face assessment, that acupuncture treatment may be of benefit. If they think that some form of manipulation may be the answer there is every chance that they can give you a referral to a known and trusted professional. 
 

 

The interesting word in your question is 'blocked'. As you probably know from looking at our website Chinese medicine is based on an entirely different theoretical basis from conventional medicine, what is often called a different paradigm. The essence of Chinese medicine is a belief that the body, mind, emotions and spirit are all manifestations of an energy called 'qi' whose proper flow and balance means that everything functions the way it is supposed to. If this flow becomes blocked or disturbed in any way, then functional disturbances appear, often affecting all 'levels' of the system and for which needles are used by the practitioner to restore flow.
 
When someone reports two 'separate' blockages in the same general area of the body it makes one question immediately whether the energy of that area is flowing as well as it might, and a skilled and experienced practitioner could determine quite quickly whether, from the Chinese medicine perspective, there was something which might be done. Even if there were no immediately obvious signs in the area itself, the principles of Chinese medicine are founded on a notion of overall balance which means that symptoms are less critical, being indicators of a wider imbalance in the system rather than the necessary focus of attention. It would be worth your while to visit a BAcC practitioner local to you for an informal assessment of whether they believe that acupuncture treatment may be of benefit to you.
 
That said, we have to say that the research evidence for the treatment of both conditions with acupuncture is a little bit thin. There are a few studies, but one of the key factors in undertaking research from a conventional perspective is trying to reduce the variables, and this means being able to define clearly what the problem is. Both blocked tear ducts and blocked ears have several possible causes, and this means that comparing like with like becomes more difficult, and the results less reliable. What research we have identified is of relatively poor quality, and if we were making recommendations based solely on that we would have to say that it would not be worth pursuing. However, our clinical experience is that where there are clear energetic blockages treatment can sometimes have a very direct effect, and it would certainly be worth seeking advice from a BAcC member local to you.  
 

The consensus amongst both orthodox and complementary medical practitioners is that nerve deafness is rather intractable to treatment. You can certainly find one or two case histories from acupuncture websites, such as this one from America
 
please click here
 
which report one-off 'cures' but the reality is that most cases of nerve deafness do not respond. The majority appear to be caused by problems with the small hair-like projections which detect sound, and once these are damaged or inoperative there is not a great deal to be done.
 
Obviously from a Chinese medicine perspective, resting as it does on an entirely different understanding of the way that the body functions involving an energy called 'qi' and its flow and balance, there may be blockages which a skilled practitioner can detect and the treatment of which may have an impact on your hearing. We would regard this as a very long shot, however, and even if the practitioner did detect blockages in the flow which from a Chinese medicine perspective might be considered likely to have a functional impact on someone's hearing, we would recommend only a short course of treatment to see if there were immediate and discernible changes.
 
You can find a practitioner local to you by using our 'find a practitioner' function, and it would be worth asking if the ones nearest to you would be happy to spare a few minutes without charge to offer you a brief face to face assessment of whether they think acupuncture treatment may be of value.   
 

Q:  I suffer from cronic rhinitis the triggers are alcohol, certain smells, stress & recently chocolate. I wanted to know if acupunture would help & if so which acupuncturist would you reccomend.

A:  There is certainly some evidence that acupuncture can be of benefit in the treatment of allergic rhinitis, as our fact sheet shows
 
Please click here

 However, the fact sheet also makes it clear that the studies are relatively few in number and methodologically a little variable, so we have to be a little circumspect in our advice to you. Our own experience as practitioners is also that people can vary dramatically in their responses to treatment. While some do benefit dramatically and quickly, many more have an obdurate form of the condition which seems to resist all attempts to shift it.
 
What we often find, however, is that Chinese medicine does give an insight into the kinds of secondary causes which make the condition difficult to move, and there are often small nuggets of dietary and lifestyle advice which a practitioner can give which can reduce the extent to which someone suffers. Chinese medicine has an entirely different view of the way that the body as a system functions, and with it a very precise understanding of the kinds of foods and situations which an individual with their unique balance and constitution might find particuarly troublesome. This was, indeed, the rationale of regular treatment in ancient times, with the doctor using his or her knowledge of the individual patient to protect them when the seasons changed and to maintain their health.
 
You would certainly benefit from talking to a BAcC member and seeking their informal advice on whether treatment would be good for you, as well as finding out if there are things you could do to help your own cause. We don't make specific recommendations because we trust that all of our members are equally competent to deal with the problems which come their way. Simply logging on to the 'practitioner search' function on our home page will provide you with a list of members within your vicinity.    

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