We get lots of questions about ear seeds. Ear seeds are still widely unheard of, much less used, at least in the U.S. So there is plenty of untapped potential, and we’re excited when ear seed newbies want to see what ear seeds have to offer. One common question we get asked from people who are new to ear seeds and doing their research is, “Do ear seeds go on both ears?”
Acupressure practitioners can’t agree
If you do an online search for answers to the question of do ear seeds go on both ears simultaneously, you won’t find a common consensus. The conventional wisdom does lean slightly more toward using them on both ears, on the same points for each ear, but different combinations do exist:
- Both ears, different acupressure points
- Both ears, same acupressure points
- Single ear, alternating every few days to the other ear
In the NADA Protocol ear seeds go on both ears
The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) Protocol is one of the approaches to auricular (ear) acupuncture that can also translate to auricular acupressure. This “acudetox” was developed in the 1970s as a therapy or treatment to help with issues of addiction, mental health, PTSD, chronic stress and more, and a Kaiser Permanente HMO-based study point to its success (Santasiero & Neussle, 2005).
In the NADA Protocol ear seeds go on both ears. For this protocol, using the ear seeds rather than acupuncture needles, between one and five acupressure points are seeded. Often, the Shen Men point is the only point seeded, but expanding to other points in this protocol adds Sympathetic, Kidney, Liver, and Lung points.
Single ear scenarios with ear seeds
Research study example
In one study on ear seeds for weight loss, researchers chose to use the method of seeding only one ear at a time, alternating between each participant’s left and right ears during the course of the treatment.
The study’s authors explain their rationale for seeding only one ear at a time: to prevent skin irritation. This is understandable due to the frequency of seeding (two sessions each week) and the longer-than-usual treatment duration (eight weeks).
However, we believe this may be a limitation of the study and something they should have mentioned in their “Limitations and Recommendations of the Study” section. In other words, would having seeds on both ears simultaneously have resulted in even more dramatic and distinguishable results? The verdict is out.
Practically speaking, the idea that ear seeds go on both ears is not the case if any of these situations applies to you:
- If you have a limited number of ear seeds available (and if this is the case with you, it’s time to restock your collection with the My Ear Seeds Refill Kit!)
- If one ear has any sort of lesions, bumps, irritations, scratches, or other issues that need to be healed before ear seeds can be applied
- If you’re new to ear seeding and want to get the hang of it on one ear before proceeding with the other
- If you’re working with a practitioner who recommends a one-ear-at-a-time approach based on your specific condition and treatment plan
To sum it up
Whether ear seeds go on both ears or just one at a time is totally your call to make, independently or with a trusted healthcare practitioner. What matters most, perhaps, is our 4-3-1 rule for ear seeds, which is four weeks of using them at minimum, stimulating the ear points by pressing with your fingertips three times per day, and during those three times per day, doing it for one minute each time. Ear seeds are most effective when used consistently, so make sure you have the right tools on hand, and get to seeding!
Santasiero, R., & Neussle, G. (2005). Cost effectiveness of auricular acupuncture for treating substance abuse in an HMO setting: A pilot study. Med. Acupunct, 16, 39-42.
Stuyt, E. B., Voyles, C. A., & Bursac, S. (2018). NADA Protocol for Behavioral Health. Putting Tools in the Hands of Behavioral Health Providers: The Case for Auricular Detoxification Specialists. Medicines (Basel, Switzerland), 5(1), 20. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines5010020
Suen, L., Wang, W., Cheng, K. K. Y., Chua, M. C. H., Yeung, J. W. F., Koh, W. K., Yeung, S. K. W., & Ho, J. Y. S. (2019). Self-Administered Auricular Acupressure Integrated With a Smartphone App for Weight Reduction: Randomized Feasibility Trial. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 7(5), e14386. https://doi.org/10.2196/14386