How auricular acupuncture can help the alpha gal allergy

alpha gal allergy

What is the alpha gal allergy?

The term alpha gal is an abbreviation for the sugar galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose.  This sugar resides in mammals that walk on four legs, like cows and pigs. It is not found in humans, apes, or monkeys. When a tick bites a mammal such as a cow, the tick carries the alpha gal sugar. When that tick bites a human, the tick injects the sugar molecules into the human. This can result in an allergic reaction to the alpha gal sugar. Subsequently, an allergic response to red meat can develop. This is why the alpha gal allergy is often called the “red meat allergy”.


As a human receives more tick bites, their antibodies against alpha gal increase. Consequently, the likelihood of developing an allergy also increases. In addition to red meat, alpha gal resides in many products made from mammals. This includes medications, cosmetics, vaccines, gelatin, and milk products. Exposure to any of these items can initiate an allergic reaction. Alpha gal allergies can affect individuals of all ages. Symptoms vary from one individual to another. While alpha gal allergies are most frequently found in the eastern and mid-western United States, cases also exist in other parts of the country. Europe and Australia have identified cases as well.


Alpha gal allergy symptoms and reactions

Most allergic reactions occur immediately after consuming food with alpha gal. However, because the alpha gal sugar takes a long time to digest, an allergic reaction may not occur for up to eight hours after the food is eaten.


Symptoms can be mild like headaches, congestion, and sneezing and itchy skin. They can be more serious like hives, eczema, difficulty breathing, fainting, dizziness, and swelling. People may also experience symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. In extreme cases, someone with an alpha gal allergy may go into anaphylactic shock. This is a serious emergency condition. It requires immediate medical attention and treatment.


Medical resources state that the alpha gal allergy may resolve on its own after about three to five years. Unfortunately, this may not be the case when an individual receives multiple tick bites over time.


Alpha gal sources

Alpha gal is surprisingly prevalent in our environment. In addition to red meat, alpha gal can be found in the following items:

  • Milk products
  • Gelatin
  • Lanolin found in: Cosmetics, lipsticks, ointments, lotions, clothing (wool, cashmere, suede, leather, alpaca), animal dander
  • Stearic acid found in: Cosmetics, soap, shaving cream, lubricant, detergents, house cleaners, and textile softeners, forming and softening plastics
  • Drugs prepared from animals: Zyrtec, Benadryl, Simvastatin, Omeprazole (Lasec, Prilosec, Zegerid), Synthroid, Cetuximab, Heparin, Ceron 10, Gelatin capsules, medications containing stearic acid and magnesium stearate
  • Devices like pig’s heart valves, grafts


Alpha gal allergy diagnosis

A variety of research articles have been published on the alpha gal allergy. For example, the article Alpha-gal syndrome from the Mayo Clinic is a great resource. This article shares that the allergy is commonly diagnosed through a blood or skin prick test. The guidance given by most medical facilities is to avoid exposure to alpha gal. Additionally, another informative article published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in 2020 is titled Diagnosis and Management of Patients with the α-Gal Syndrome. This study lists auricular acupuncture as a treatment therapy for the alpha gal allergy.


Alpha gal allergy treatment

Dr. Nader Soliman created and patented a groundbreaking technique called the Soliman Auricular Allergy Treatment (SAAT).  SAAT is a simple technique. The treatment utilizes a small needle retained in the ear with medical adhesive tape. Then, after the treatment, the needle stays in the ear for a period of 3-4 weeks. Dr. Soliman found this technique to provide the strongest relief from alpha gal allergy symptoms among all known acupuncture and medical techniques. Dr. Soliman employs this technique with great success for over 15 years now.


A research article published in the American Journal of Biomedical and Life Sciences titled Effect of Soliman Auricular Allergy Treatment (SAAT) on IgE-mediated Reactions Due to Exposure to Mammalian Meat Oligosaccharide, Galactose-α-1,3-Galactose  tested the SAAT technique. The study found a 94.8% success rate with patients who underwent the SAAT treatment for their alpha gal allergy. In addition, an article published in the Medical Acupuncture Journal titled Successful Treatment for Alpha Gal Mammal Product Allergy Using Auricular Acupuncture: A Case Series concluded that the SAAT method showed effectiveness in the majority of patients and no adverse reactions were noted as a result of auricular acupuncture.


We are very excited to offer the SAAT treatment at HAVEN Acupuncture. Want to talk about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help your alpha gal allergy? We’d love to hear from you. Reach out and email us through our website or call or text us at 910-622-4269.


About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine. She studied SAAT directly from Dr. Soliman, and she is a certified SAAT practitioner. Ericca sees patients at her office in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 


About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

All about ear seeds and auriculotherapy

ear seeds

What are ear seeds?

Usually when I mention ear seeds to my patients for the first time, I get a surprised, “What did you say?” type of response. They’re not sure if they heard me correctly. Did I really just suggest putting a seed in their ear? I explain that what I am referring to is a small sphere placed on an acupuncture point on the surface of the ear that is held in place with adhesive tape. It works by exerting a gentle pressure on an acupuncture point. Ear seeds come in a variety of styles that I’ll cover a bit later in this blog.


Auriculotherapy and the anatomy of the human ear

Auriculotherapy is the process of stimulating acupuncture points on the ear. This involves acupuncture needles, electrical stimulation, or acupressure from the fingers or ear seeds.


A French Doctor named Paul Nogier popularized auriculotherapy in the 1950’s. Dr. Nogier was able to show how the external ear contains a microsystem of the human body by mapping the anatomy of an inverted fetus to the ear. Acupuncture points on the ear can actually treat different parts of the body. For example, the baby’s head corresponds to the ear lobe, the baby’s back goes up the outside of the ear, and the baby’s feet are mapped to the top of the ear. There are hundreds of points on the ear that correspond to different points on the body. These points connect to nerve endings in the ear that send a signal to the brain. The brain sends a message to the area of the body in need of  treatment.


What do ear seeds treat?

Because the ear contains a microcosm of the body, virtually any issue someone is facing can be supported with ear seeds. This includes conditions like pain, stress, trauma, addiction, and emotional issues. They are safe for anyone over the age of three. I frequently use ear seeds to support acupuncture treatments in my office. For example, if a patient is experiencing back pain or sciatica, I will apply ear seeds that correspond to the lower back and the sciatic nerve. If the patient has a headache, I will apply them to the part of the ear that corresponds to the location of their headache.


Kits and styles

Most ear seeds use a vaccaria seed as the “seed”. This is how ear seeds got their name – an actual seed is applied to the ear.  The vaccaria seed is a small black seed from the vaccaria plant. According to Chinese medicine, this plant has healing properties. The vaccaria seed is the perfect size, shape, and texture to stimulate an acupuncture point on the ear. Adhesive tape holds the seed to an acupuncture point on the ear. The adhesive tape that looks like a small square band-aid. This type of ear seed is shown in the picture at the top of this blog.


If people are allergic to latex or prefer a different look, stainless steel balls on clear adhesive tape can be used as well as gold-plated balls on clear adhesive tape. The gold-plated balls are also available with different embellishments on the adhesive, like Swarovski crystals. They are a fun option for someone who likes some sparkle in their ear.


Ear seeds also come in condition-specific kits. Often, I have patients who want to continue treatment while traveling and they love having everything they need in a simple kit. The kit contains the ear seeds, pictures that show exactly where to place the seeds, instructions, and tweezers for precise placement.


The kits that are the most popular with my patients include: Acne, Back Pain / Sciatica, Depression, Focus and Memory, Headaches and Migraines, Insomnia, Menopause, Post-Trauma (PTSD), Stop Smoking, Stress and Anxiety, and Weight Loss.


Why I love auriculotherapy and ear seeds

I love ear seeds so much that I decided to become a certified ear seeds practitioner. What’s fascinating to me is that I can often tell what is going on with a person just by looking at their ears. Red marks or veins signify acute conditions or inflammation, and white bumps typically reveal more chronic conditions. Recently during a treatment, I noticed that a patient’s ear was quite red near the insomnia point. When I asked about sleep, the patient was very surprised and shared they had forgotten to mention that they were experiencing insomnia. The ear can even show what stage of the menstrual cycle a woman is experiencing.


Ear seeds can really enhance an in-office acupuncture treatment. The patient leaves the office with ear seeds in their ears, and this supplements the therapy in between office treatments. Patients can choose to leave the ear seeds alone or give them a gentle squeeze whenever needed to further activate the point. Ear seeds give patients something to do, especially when they are applied to help with stress and anxiety. Patients wear them for up to 5 days to continue the benefits of the treatment.


Ear seeds can also be applied by patients at home, and they are perfect for Telemedicine patients. Entire treatments can be accomplished through ear seeds alone. They are a great option for people who are afraid of needles. They are affordable, very easy to use, and extremely effective.


About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 


About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

How Acupuncture and Ear Seeds help PTSD

PTSD treatment acupuncture ear seeds

PTSD treatment with acupuncture and ear seeds

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a condition that can occur after a person experiences or witnesses a traumatic event. Triggers can cause the event to be relived. This can create intense emotional and / or physical reactions that can be debilitating. Many people who have PTSD experience anxiety, fear, anger, agitation, difficulty concentrating and / or sleeping. In other words, PTSD can have a profound impact on body, mind and spirit. Acupuncture and ear seeds can be an effective treatment for PTSD.

One of the best treatments I’ve found for PTSD involves auriculotherapy, or ear acupuncture. The external ear contains a microcosm of the body, and all of the parts of the body can be accessed through acupuncture points on the ear. There are six specific points that were researched and tested by a team of doctors that have proven to be beneficial when using auriculotherapy to treat PTSD. The points are as follows: hypothalamus, amygdala, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, point zero, and shen men. The majority of these points directly affect specific parts of the brain.


Acupuncture points can help balance and heal the brain and help PTSD

The hypothalamus point balances the autonomic nervous system and calms the overexcited sympathetic nervous system. The amygdala point is also referred to as the “irritability point” and calms the emotions. The hippocampus point helps with memories, specifically, the ability to distinguish old memories from current events. The prefrontal cortex helps you take “right action” on thoughts. Point zero, which is located at the center of the ear, helps bring the body, mind and spirit to homeostasis or balance. Finally, shen men is a point that calms stress, anxiety, and pain.

While these six points can be stimulated with acupuncture needles during an acupuncture treatment, I prefer to apply ear seeds to these points. I am a huge fan of ear seeds. I love that they give the patient something physical to work with after they leave my office. Ear seeds are literally just that – seeds that applied to the ear. The type of ear seeds that I use most contain small black seeds from the vaccaria plant. These seeds are the perfect shape and size to activate acupuncture points on the ear. The seeds are held to the points with small squares of adhesive tape and look like tiny Band-Aids. They also come in different finishes like Swarovski crystal if you want some sparkle in your ears.


How ear seeds work and help PTSD

Ear seeds stimulate acupuncture points by exerting a gentle pressure from the adhesive tape. They can also be pressed with the fingers to provide stronger stimulation as needed. For example, if you are wearing ear seeds and you start to experience anxiety, you can press on the ear seeds with your fingers to get some quick relief. Ear seeds can be worn in the shower and left in place for up to five days in a row.

It’s important to work with your doctor to make sure that you have the proper diagnosis and treatment options for PTSD, and acupuncture and ear seeds can be a great addition to your toolkit.


About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she treats patients with PTSD with acupuncture and ear seeds in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 


About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.