Ear Acupuncture & NADA

The NADA Protocol

In the mid-1970s, Michael Smith, a medical doctor at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx area of New York, modified an existing system of auricular acupuncture into a simple technique for the treatment of many common drug addictions as an alternative to methadone. This selection of ear points proved to be extremely effective in the treatment of addictions, and became what is now referred to as the “NADA protocol.”

The original NADA protocol consisted of electrical stimulation on the Lung point of a patient’s ear. It was soon discovered, however, that manual needling of the same point produced a more prolonged effect than that produced by electric stimulation. Gradually, the protocol was expanded by adding Shen Men, a well-known ear point that produces a sensation of relaxation. Over the next few years, other points were added based on pain resistance, sensitivity, and other clinical factors. The NADA protocol as it exists today consists of the insertion of small, stainless-steel, disposable acupuncture needles into five points on the outer surface of a person’s ear. The points used in the NADA protocol are Sympathetic, Shen Men, Kidney, Liver, and Lung.

Where to find a NADA group

I currently use NADA in my private practice to help with giving up smoking. However I hope to start working with various organisations in Bristol this year.

What to expect


The NADA protocol is given seated rather than lying down which offers many benefits. The main one being that it can be given in a group setting, with as many as 10 people in a group.  It is a non-verbal treatment, once the needles are in they are left for about forty minutes in which time patients sit quietly in an almost meditative state.  The treatment is incredibly relaxing, it can often induce sleep and brings a feeling of calm almost immediately.  This protocol has been used for many decades, and in that time is not only used for addiction but other areas of mental health. It has been taken into prisons, schools and various organisations working with addiction and mental health.