Certification as an Auricular Acu-Specialist

5-Point Ear Protocol for Addictions, Mental Health, Trauma and Community Healing



The program consists of both in-person training (2 days) and ongoing virtual supervision and support. The training is available to both Non-Acupuncturists and Acupuncturists who would like to deepen their understanding of and skills in this protocol.



The 5-Point Ear Acupuncture Protocol (also referred to as NADA, Acudetox, 5P-Protocol) was developed to support those in recovery, suffering from Addictions, Stress & Anxiety, Trauma, Pain. It is a safe, inclusive, affordable and effective treatment.



Our goal is to train as many people as possible to share this effective protocol with their communities, with a focus on Addictions, Mental Health, Trauma - particularly amongst systemically marginalized communities.


AAS Training Overview

ITM was one of the first schools in Canada to provide training in the 5-Point Ear Protocol (also known as Acudetox, NADA, 5-Point Protocol).

What is the Acudetox Protocol?

The Auricular Acu-Specialist Certificate includes training in the 5 Ear-Acu-Point Protocol, and is used to support those with Addictions, Trauma, Mental Health Conditions, Stress & Anxiety, Grief & Bereavement.

The "Acudetox" protocol utilizes the principles of Eastern Medicine (TCM) and Western addictions and behavioral health models to bring significant benefit to persons in recovery from addictions and a variety of mental disorders. The Auricular 5-Point protocol is a simplified, standardized ear-needling technique, derived from acupuncture specifically for this type of treatment. It has been carefully developed and extensively tested.

*Acupuncture experience is not necessary for this training.

Training Details

Our comprehensive training includes a trauma informed, anti-oppressive, and harm-reduction approach and practices in addition to the full training in the 5-Point Ear Acupuncture Protocol, set out by *NADA.

Tuition: $650 + HST (includes training and evaluation. If participants require additional on-site supervision of practicum hours, additional fees may be required).

Training Includes:

  • Didactic and hands-on/experiential learning on various elements of the training
  • Overview of the history of the 5-Point Ear Protocol
  • Needling Techniques & Point Location
  • Ear Seed Application
  • The Science of how auricular acupuncture supports healing and recovery
  • Eastern Medical Theory
  • A Trauma-informed, Anti-Oppressive Approach
  • Harm-Reduction Theory & Practices
  • Setting Up Auricular Acu Circles
  • Offering the 5-Point Auricular Protocol for systemically marginalized communities
  • Safety/Covid Precautions/Guidelines
  • Various learning formats including: videos, projected Power Point, reading materials
  • All materials including Power Point presentations are available to participants.
  • All the materials required for training - i.e. needles, swabs, stix containers etc.
  • Follow up supervision, mentorship and support (online) will be provided to the staff/students for a 1 year period

*Any onsite supervision required will incur additional fees

The training will be in person. Follow up, supervision and support will be provided to the staff/students for a 1 year period, until they receive certification. Some of this support work may be done virtually.
*ITM has developed the Auricular Acu-Specialist Training (AAS) to meet and surpass the training standards established by the *NADA (National Acupuncture Detox Association in the United States).
**For Non-Acupuncturists: To ensure you are legally permitted to practice the 5-Point Ear Acupuncture protocol in your province, it is your responsibility to ensure you have done due diligence in researching the requirements and legalities in your province. The Acuricular Acu-Protocol can also be administered with Ear Seeds in place of needles.


Acupuncture of the ears has been practiced by many Indigenous communities and traditional cultures for centuries. The system of Auricular Acupuncture developed for the treatment of Addictions, Mental Health, Trauma, Pain can be attributed to its Chinese medicine roots, and further developed into the protocol we know today as the 5-Point Ear Acupuncture Protocol by Young Lords, the Black Panther Party and Lincoln Detox.  In 1970, an alliance of Black, Latinx, and White members at Lincoln Detox, a drug treatment program in the South Bronx area of New York City, learned of acupuncture as an alternative to methadone.

Starting in 1974, the staff and other professionals associated with the South Bronx’s Lincoln Recovery Center spent 10 years developing the basic 5 Ear-Points, commonly known as the "NADA Protocol" for the treatment of Addiction, using the diagnostic tools of experience and trial and error. They determined a need for a national-level organization to expand training capacity and awareness of the value of acupuncture as a tool of recovery. Incorporated in 1985 in the state of New York, the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association has helped spread Acudetox far and wide, nationally and internationally.

Benefits of the Acudetox Protocol

  • Significantly decrease cravings for alcohol and drugs, withdrawal symptoms, relapse episodes, anxiety, insomnia and agitation
  • Improves the effectiveness of other addictions programs
  • Effective across various addictive behaviours (gambling, sex addiction)
  • Effective throughout treatment/recovery process including stages of withdrawal, relapse, within pre-treatment/harm-reduction settings
  • Effective for Trauma, PTSD
  • Elicits immediate and longterm effects
  • Effective for all genders, and cross-culturally
  • Develop meditation-like, calms state
  • Decreases confrontations and aggressive behaviour
  • Program completion
  • Medication compliance increase
  • Decrease anxiety and deepen sleep
  • Prepares one to deal with stressors
  • Clients engage more deeply in therapeutic activities
  • Staff relationships with clients and other staff shifted positively
  • Staff burnout decrease
  • Sense of community, belonging
  • Affordable for Organizations to implement
  • Risk-free protocol

Client's Report

  • Decrease in Cravings
  • Stress Reduction
  • Relaxation
  • Withdrawal Symptom Reduction
  • Mental Clarity
  • Increased Sense of Purpose/Wellbeing
  • Better Sleep
  • More Energy
  • Better Appetite

Organizations Currently Using Acudetox

  • Addiction Centres
  • Prisons, Jails
  • In-Patient/Out-Patient Treatment Centres
  • Therapy & Counsellor Clinics
  • Hospitals and Health Centre
  • Community Service Organizations
  • Harm-Reduction Programs
  • First Responders
  • Grief & Bereavement Groups
  • Sickle-Cell Anemia Programs
  • Eating Disorders Programs
  • Restorative Justice Programs

Requirements for Certification

  • Demonstrate skill and ability in providing a compassionate, boundaried and safe Auricular Acu-Session group experience within a  trauma informed care approach; including an understanding of the spirit of this protocol to be shared within an inclusive, non-judgemental approach and self regulation of anxiety/emotions.
  • Accurate placement and technique of needles and ability to apply ear-seeds.
  • Ability to apply safe clean needle application/technique and disposal policies and practices.
  • Acknowledgement and commitment to only provide Auricular Acu within the scope of your practice as an Auricular Acu-Specialist.
  • Attendance of the 2 day training.
  • Complete 50 recorded Auricular Acu sessions/with summary and analysis. *Can be completed on own/within your own clinics/organizations.
  • Read all training materials.
  • Complete Final Practical and Open-Book Written Exam.
Ani Mackinnon

Ann Mackinnon - Trainer

Ann is trained as a Acudetox Specialist (through NADA), has completed additional training in Auricular Acupuncture through POCA, is a Shiatsu Therapist and Counsellor and has been practicing NADA Acudetox for several years in the Toronto Community, providing Free NADA circles at the PWA (People with Aids), Downsview Dell Men's Shelter, and in many local organizations and on the streets of Toronto, serving marginalized communities. Ann has supervised the Acudetox/Auricular Acu- Circles at ITM for years and has brought an inclusive, anti-oppressive, and mindful quality to these sessions and training program.


Jen Bowers TCMP - Assistant Trainer

Jen is a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine with decades of experience supporting individuals and communities struggling with mental, emotional and physical trauma. Jen incorporates a variety of tools including acupuncture, herbs, nutritional therapy and counselling/coaching within a trauma-informed, anti-oppressive approach. Jen  has been trained in and practiced the Acudetox protocol for over a decade and has developed the training to include a more trauma-informed, anti-oppressive approach.

Join us for our next Auricular Acu-Specialist Training!