Prick Up Your Ears!

Mark Guthrie visits Abe Ear Acupuncture Clinic

In Joseph Heller’s masterpiece, Catch 22, protagonist Yossarian contests that our foreheads would be better off fitted with neon lamps to signal when we were suffering from disease; his argument being that, it was no stranger than rolling around in agony as we do now. This is purely in the realms of science fiction, but I found when visiting Abe Ear Acupuncture Clinic that they have the next best thing.

I was ready to undergo my first course of ear acupuncture (yes, I was surprised to find that it is a thing, too), when Miyuki Abe, the delightful owner of the clinic began running an electronic probe around my ear to detect problem spots.

“In some people nothing buzzes at all,” she told me, handing me an ear chart showing which points correspond to which part of my body. I ‘uh-huhed’ my sceptical ascent, but almost immediately there was a buzz. And then another. Miyuki let go of a little giggle of surprise, but regained professional composure. “This doesn’t happen often,” she revealed, as the machine screamed worryingly past the acupoints of my ear representing the heart, the stomach and, unsurprisingly, liver and kidneys. I have to admit, I was a little concerned.

With diagnosis completed, it was time for the cure and I awaited the big scary needles, yet they did not come. Instead Miyuki produced titanium beads, which she taped to the acu points most in need of care with the intention of applying stimulus to my brain and autonomic nerves. Once completed, she began the process of indirect moxibustion.

Now, don’t worry if you have no idea what that is, as nor did I, but it is in fact a centuries-old Chinese procedure in which the burning of a dried mugwort called ‘moxa’ is applied near the acupressure beads. This apparently stimulates circulation and induces a smoother flow of blood and, importantly qi, and some claim prevents serious disease. As the beads heated up, Miyuki and I chatted and we discovered that we had a mutual affection for Australia.

It was where she spent four years, and in a chance conversation with friends she first stumbled across the idea of acupuncture. Upon her return to Japan she enrolled in an acupuncture school and has practiced ever since, accumulating 15 years experience in clinics and therapeutic acupuncture for the aged. Recently, however, she began to have concerns over the effectiveness of regular acupuncture, and found herself increasingly drawn to auriculotherapy.

She then moved on to an affliction of mine that is so obvious it doesn’t require an electronic probe to show how bad things are: my hair loss. Some sources claim that the elevated blood flow caused by acupuncture can nourish the hair follicles and thus help with prevention, particularly of diseases such as alopecia. I fear that I may be past the point of no return, though I let Miyuki tap the tiny needles into my scalp and was surprised that not only was there no pain, I didn’t even feel them going in. Then came LED light therapy to further encourage hair growth, which caused me to raise a sceptical eyebrow, but at the next therapy it almost raised so far as to pop off my head.

The idea behind tuning fork therapy is that everything in nature vibrates and the vibration of stimuli can affect the body. So far, so scientific, right? But as Miyuki explained that the hammering of large tuning forks and waving them up and down my body was effective in redirecting my qi, I’m afraid that my cynicism was off the charts. However, once I got over the sensation of being in a low budget sci-fi movie, I found myself immensely relaxed and, whether or not it was my qi moving position, I felt I could have easily drifted off into a deep sleep.

Finally having been roused and treated to a ridiculously invigorating head, neck and shoulders massage, I was on my merry little way. Now, I have no idea whether the preventative qualities of ear acupuncture have done me any good, or whether the sounds of the acu point detector machine still ringing in my ears have proved that I am beyond help, but I know that I had a relaxing time and I will definitely be going back at some point soon. And who knows, maybe by then I’ll have a lovely full head of hair!

Abe Ear Acupuncture Clinic
2F D 2-22-6 Osu
Map Page 30 | B4
By reservation only
Tel: (052) 684-8244

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