Acupuncture for Detoxification

If you’ve been wanting to detox, you could likely benefit from the NADA protocol. 

In Acupuncture, the NADA protocol is a five-point ear acupuncture therapy designed to help with recovery from substance use. It can also be used to reduce anxiety, promote mental health, or help people overcome emotional trauma. The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to teaching and advocating for the NADA protocol. 

Auricular acupuncture detoxification (detox via ear acupuncture) is growing in popularity as a treatment for various forms of substance addiction. There is a growing body of scientific evidence to support the practice. It has been successfully implemented in communities nationwide and around the world. It is also sometimes known as a 5 needle protocol (5NP).

How does the NADA Protocol work?

Under the NADA protocol, just five small, sterilized disposable needles are placed in the ear. The needles are placed at specific points in the ear representing the sympathetic nervous system, the Shen Men point (also known as “heaven’s gate”), the kidney, the liver, and the lung.  These five needles typically remain in the ear during a 30- to 45-minute treatment period. 

As a part of Integrated Behavioral Health Care, this form of acupuncture addresses the emotional, mental, and spiritual side of health. It is frequently done in a collective healing format. These conditions help those receiving the treatment reach a highly relaxed, meditative state. 

The five points: 1 Sympathetic; 2 Shen Men; 3 Kidney; 4 Liver; and 5 Lung. 

Research on the biological underpinnings of acupuncture has found that it helps in regulating neurotransmitters. This affects dopamine, GABA, serotonin, and the endorphin system -- which may explain why it can help counterbalance the effects of withdrawal.

Where did this Detox acupuncture come from?

The protocol originated as a grass-roots response to the opiate epidemic of the 1970s. The NADA protocol as we know it today was developed at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx by psychiatrist Dr. Michael O. Smith. He read that a surgeon in Hong Kong, Dr. Wen, had used acupuncture on an opium addict. The patient’s craving for opium dissapated during this process. So Dr. Smith began experimenting with it in his own practice in the Bronx, to much success.

Dr. Smith carried the belief that all human beings are sacred and that everyone has the right to be drug free, guilt free, and shame free. 

What can the NADA protocol do?

NADA has been proven to decrease cravings and reduce anxiety for those who suffer from substance use addiction. It has been used to help people stop using and craving alcohol, cannabis, Opiods (such as Heroin) and nicotine (aka smoking cessation). While it is not a complete cure for drug addiction, it does address the symptoms of withdrawal while creating a comfortable environment to alleviate suffering,

It also has applications beyond detox. It can be used to reduce anxiety, for example.  

Ear acupuncture promotes mental health as it offers relief from intensity of symptoms of restlessness and agitation. It has been used to treat depression and insomnia. 

As more and more people work to overcome specific and chronic emotional traumas, they are turning to acupuncture because it works so well when combined with counseling, education, medical support and group therapy.

Physically, this modality has been used to treat and alleviate chronic pain. When studied compared to control groups, people receiving the NADA protocol also reported they had fewer problems with sleep, felt more energetic, experienced higher levels of concentration, and were able to reduce the severity of anger symptoms as well as other benefits.  

Cross-culturally, the NADA protocol is compatible with all sorts of healing practices around the globe. It has been used throughout Africa, Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, North and South America.

The NADA protocol is considered to be clinically effective, cost-efficient, and pharmaceutical-free.


Benefits of NADA

Source: National Acupuncture Detoxification Association. 


How does the NADA protocol affect community healing and social justice?

Recovery is not done in isolation, so traditionally, the NADA protocol is administered in community with others. People undergoing the treatment sit together while allowing the treatment to take effect.

This nonverbal approach in a group setting enhances the felt sense of peace and relaxation. Because it is nonverbal, it reduces barriers presented by other modalities that may be seen as somehow threatening or confrontational. In this way, it can be an easier first step for many people seeking detox. 

There is also a social justice aspect of the NADA protocol -- in that it can help entire communities live free of drugs and release the associated guilt and shame as intended. Additionally, Traditional Chinese Medicine has long been a tool for those who otherwise could not access Western medical care. 

Find an AcuDetox Specialist or Taochemist Near You

Taochemy is an acupuncture service provider based in New York City with a network of Taochemy technicians in cities nationwide. 

Almeda's founder Stacy Tucker is the first Taochemist. As a trauma nurse she has witnessed firsthand the healing power of acupuncture along with holistic nutrition.

While Almeda supports wholistic nutrition, Taochemy helps clients manage mental and physical stresses ranging from everyday anxieties to emotional trauma. It’s our hope that better nutrition and increased somatic awareness can make living a fully embodied life possible for everyone. 

Taochemy offers a scientifically supported five-point acupuncture process featuring the NADA protocol and enhanced through nutritional support along with the science of nursing care. That’s how Taochemy is revolutionizing the treatment of chronic stress and offering care that enhances quality of life.

With these tools of nutrition and acupuncture, we help our clients reduce stress, fortify the body against illness, and support mental clarity.

Learn more about Taochemy.