Ear acupressure is a potential treatment for nail-biting
(Natural News) Nail biting is a bad habit that leads to a variety of health issues. Most often it is a symptom of anxiety. While habit reversal treatment can help people stop this compulsive behavior, this type of treatment is often ineffective since people continue to suffer from anxiety. In a study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers from China investigated whether the potential anxiety relief provided by auricular acupressure could improve the efficacy of habit reversal treatment.
Auricular acupressure, or ear acupressure, is a non-invasive form of acupuncture therapy that involves the application of physical pressure instead of needles to specific ear acupressure points. The researchers found that auricular acupressure is a perfect complementary medicine to habit reversal treatment as it can improve the latter’s effectiveness by providing relief from anxiety.
Habit reversal treatment benefits from being paired with auricular acupressure
Habit reversal training (HRT) is a type of therapy often used to correct an individual’s troublesome behavior. Such behavior can be caused by a number of conditions, such as Tourette syndrome (tics) or impulse control disorders. HRT is composed of four core elements, namely, awareness training, development of a competing response, building motivation and generalization of new skills.
The first element is useful for teaching self-control, while the second element aims to replace impulsive behavior with a harmless action, such as the balling of fists or the pursing of lips. The third element ensures that the impulsive behavior doesn’t come back, and the fourth element involves the practice of new skills in different contexts.
To determine whether or not auricular acupressure can improve the effectiveness of HRT in stopping nail biting, the researchers conducted a pragmatic, randomized, crossover pilot clinical trial involving 83 nail biters. These participants (aged eight to 12 years) received HRT in combination with either auricular acupressure, which was meant to reduce anxiety (method A) or a placebo auricular acupressure (method B).
The researchers administered the alternative protocol after a two-month washout period. They considered the 41-item child self-reported version of the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders as the primary outcome and the nail growth status (NS), simplified plaque index (SPI) and the simplified gingival index (SGI) as the secondary outcomes. NS represented the fingernail growth of each finger during HRT.
The researchers used a paired sample t-test to assess the differences between methods A and B and the differences in the anxiety scores, NS, SGI and SPI between baseline and each time point. A total of 41 children successfully completed both arms of the treatments and attended all the appointments. The researchers reported significant differences in the efficacy of habit reversal treatment, the anxiety score, NS and SGI of patients, all of which favored method A.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that auricular acupressure can improve the efficacy of habit reversal treatment by reducing anxiety.
The other benefits of auricular acupressure
In Chinese medicine, auricular acupressure is used to balance yin and yang, clean meridians and collaterals, regulate different organ functions and help the body build up resistance to pathogens. Studies suggest that this acupuncture-related therapy can help women find relief from menstrual headache. It can also improve sleep quality and daytime dysfunction in people with insomnia. Furthermore, auricular acupressure promotes good qi and blood circulation. As in acupuncture, stimulation of auricular acupressure points is believed to have a therapeutic effect on the organs associated with them.
One organ that benefits greatly from auricular acupressure is the heart. According to research, this therapy can increase heart rate variability (HRV) — the body’s ability to regulate the interval between heartbeats and control heartbeat rate. People who are suffering from serious conditions such as congestive heart failure, heart attack or diabetic neuropathy tend to have low HRV. Researchers have found that auricular acupressure can increase HRV by reducing high levels of stress and normalizing heart rates. These positive effects can help people maintain good cardiovascular health.