NADA 5-Point Ear Protocol Training

History of NADA

The History of NADA

The story of NADA began in Hong Kong in the early 1970s, when a neurosurgeon named Hsiang-Lai Wen, MD stuck a needle in the lung point of a client and added electrical stimulation, then left to wait for the client to lose sensation in his skull so the surgeon could perform brain surgery while the client was awake. Dr. Wen didn’t know the client was an opium addict, and after some time the client with great delight confessed to the nurse that his withdrawal symptoms were disappearing.

She told Wen and Dr. Wen began researching the connection between ear acupuncture and addiction treatment. He worked on rodents. He worked on humans. He received grants from the World Health Organization and he spoke and in 1972 he published and one day soon after a young psychiatrist in New York’s South Bronx read of his work.

This American doctor directed a hospital-based methadone clinic for heroin addicts and he longed to find an alternative to methadone. In fact, a collective of The Young Lords and The Black Panthers had been doing acupuncture on their own for some time at the clinic, buying needles in Chinatown and using them on the throngs of addicts from the neighborhood who wanted help.

That effort was eventually shut down by the authorities. The situation deteriorated. A young white doctor was murdered and stuffed in a closet. Another young doctor fresh out of psychiatric training arrived. His name is Michael Smith and at first he just wanted something quick and useful for the many people on methadone at this clinic who wanted help getting off the drug.

Smith brought to Lincoln the magic electrical stimulating machine and needles Wen was using in Hong Kong and began treating heroin and methadone clients in the South Bronx. Then the machine batteries went dead and because this clinic was in the ghetto with little funding there were no replacement batteries.

Smith had been studying Chinese medicine. He soon found that not using electricity worked better. It was too intense, too stimulating, for the yin deficient clients. He thought through what he wanted to achieve with his needles and over time he added four more points. Eventually he used the protocol on his clients abusing alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and prescription drugs. He standardized the formula to make it efficient to perform and readily reproducible.

Over time he added ear seeds, beads, magnets, and a six-herb formula of his own invention which is called Sleepmix Tea. The six ingredients are A full separate page is devoted to the ingredients and usefulness of Sleepmix Tea.

At some point articles about the South Bronx clinic began appearing in the popular press, and like the lame to Lourdes acupuncturists, counselors, and others trudged through the trash and discarded syringes leading up to the front door, ignored the cacophony of dealers selling dope along the route, and learned this wondrous technique to bring it back to their place of employment.

In 1985 social workers David Eisen and Ruth Ackerman and acupuncturists Carol Taub and Patricia Culliton and others combined forces and formed NADA, the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, as a 501c3 nonprofit professional organization.

The goal of NADA as a nonprofit organization is to expand the awareness of acupuncture as a valuable treatment for addiction recovery, enroll members, provide reference materials, develop and update a standardized training curriculum, and develop a system for registering trainers and delivering trainings. Those who finish the training with the approval of their Registered Trainer receive a certificate of completion from NADA and are allowed to use the title Acudetox Specialist.

Today there are over 25,000 trained associates and Acudetox Specialists (ADSes) and over 2,000 clinical sites worldwide; 1,500 practitioners are in United Kingdom alone, working in 500 treatment sites including 130 prisons where guards as well as other prison staff have become ADSes, providing treatment for prisoners.

In the United States there are 21 states where ADSes are legally allowed to needle clients in  agencies treating addiction, mental health, and post traumatic stress disorders. There are also two states where nurses may provide the needling. Here is that list:

ADSes are legally working in the United States in these states: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina (only Registered Nurse Practitioners),  Ohio (only any nurse) Ontario, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

ADSes are also working in Canada, here: Manitoba (working but unregulated), New Brunswick (working but unregulated), Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island (working but unregulated).

NADA’s Executive Director is Sara Bursać, a social worker and Acudetox Specialist and she does a great job for NADA. Her husband teaches at the university in Laramie, Wyoming, so that’s where the NADA office is located. For everything NADA see