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Treating the Nose, Eye and Ear with Ontake


The Ontake Method is a system of rhythmic moxibustion method with two key components: pressure and rhythm. A short piece of bamboo is filled with moxa wool. When the moxa is ignited, the bamboo gets hot and can be applied to the skin. The bamboo can be held, tapped, pressed, or rolled rhythmically along the acupuncture channels and on specific points.


Additionally, with the use of a metronome, these techniques can be applied rhythmically at a specific number of beats per minute based on Dr Manaka’s meridian frequencies. This simply means that the Ontake is applied in time to a metronome, according to the meridian being treated. Here is a list of Dr Manaka’s meridian frequencies.

Table 1 Meridian Frequencies Grouped by Channel


Ontake can be deployed using any number of other theoretical models, including excess and deficiency, Dr Tan’s Balance Method, and Hirata’s Zones. You can use it at both root and branch level, and as a branch tool, it is highly effective for pain relief. The best thing about it is that it does not require you to change what you do in your practice or swap paradigms. Just like with cupping or moxa, you can add it to your toolbox and integrate it with your personal treatment model. This includes channel-based therapies which don’t use needles such as Shiatsu and Tuina.


This article explores using Ontake at the branch level for symptom relief. None of the branch protocols below are standalone treatments. These routines should follow or be integrated concurrently with your preferred root treatment style. The numbers in brackets following each technique show the frequency of beats per minute for the meridian. The beauty of Ontake is that it is rarely used to treat individual acupoints. Instead, you can think of it like an agile and mobile moxa box, treating lines or broader areas.


Caution: When working on the head, beware of salient anatomy, such as the eye, nose, alae nasi, tragus and chin, protruding into the concave mouth of the bamboo.


Sinus Problems / Cold / Allergic Rhinitis

In Japanese moxibustion, nasal problems are often treated with moxibustion at tender points on Du Mai, such as DU 22 or DU 23.[1] With bamboo, you can quickly treat more than a single point.

Sinus sequence

Treating sinus problems

  • Start on the midline of the face between the eyebrows at Yintang and press softly with the side of the bamboo, working your way superiorly to DU 20 and back again, noting any tender areas along the way (104). This feels very relaxing and can be continued for a minute or two.
  • Check out the tender areas again and now focus on each one, either rolling slightly harder or gently knocking with the index finger at 104 beats per minute on the side of the bamboo. Knocking on the skull is welcomed by some patients and not tolerated well by others, but in all cases, knock lightly and for a short duration. Follow up with more rolling. By now, the nose should already be feeling clearer. It is useful to distinguish between sensations on the skull. Sometimes, the points feel bruised or tender, with a feeling of induration. These points respond well to light knocking and rolling. Other points feel crunchy as if there are crystals underneath the bamboo, reminiscent of a car driving on gravel. These areas respond much better to rolling.
  • Tap and close in horizontal lines on the forehead from one side to side to the other at 132 beats per minute or unaccompanied.
  • Press or touch from ST 2 to ST 4 (132).
  • Press with the side of bamboo on the side of the nose (126 or 108), or sparrow peck with the lighted end without making contact.
  • Palpate the large intestine channel and lung channel on the forearm and treat kyojitsu there, focusing mainly on tight or painful areas near LI 10 and LU 6.

Upper back points such as BL 11 to 15 are also useful.

Eye Problems

Tapping around the eye.

  • Press around the orbit of the eye with the side of the bamboo (108).
  • Roll along any crunchy areas you discover along the orbit (108 or channel targeted frequency).
  • Roll the forehead along the gall bladder channel (120).
  • Cover the eye with a tissue or thin cloth and turn the bamboo on its side. Hold lightly on the eyelid for four beats, above, level with, and below the pupil (108).
  • Roll from Yintang to DU 20 along the midline of the head (104) and slightly laterally along the bladder channel (112), focusing on soft or reactive areas.
  • Turn the patient over and roll the back of the occiput (112).
  • Tap DU 17, just above the occiput until it feels warm (104).
  • It may also be useful to treat the neck and shoulders as in the Bamboo Mini treatment or to tap the whole bladder line on the back.

Ear Problems


Many ear problems arise because the circulation of qi and blood is impaired. This can include pain in the ear, tinnitus, or hearing loss. The gall bladder channel makes three broad passes over or around the ear (120). The triple burner channel closely follows the contours of the helix (152). The kidney (120) opens into the ears.


  • Palpate for tender or crunchy points along the branches of the gall bladder channel, especially the one encircling the ear, and treat with gentle tapping or rolling (120).
  • Press or tap over triple burner around the ear (152).
  • Tap directly over the ear, until it feels warm (120).


Repeat all three steps, focusing on painful points between GB 7 and GB 12.



Ontake applied in this way can be surprisingly fast. Symptoms change very rapidly, so five minutes of treatment is often enough. Look for texture changes in the skin. Sometimes it’s a bit rough when you start treating an area but then it becomes warmer and smoother. If it changes texture like this, it’s time to move on.


Patients love Ontake treatment. Warming the ear, for example, is surprisingly comforting. What’s more, Ontake works at different levels: the smell of the smoke, the ticking of the metronome, the mechanical stretching of the soft tissues and most importantly, the gentle warming of the skin all combine to create a deeply relaxing treatment. These are all anchors that bring back the deep sense of relaxation, each time they come. The only downside is that they keep asking for Ontake on subsequent visits!


So it’s a versatile tool with benefits to both your patient and your practice. It’s simple to learn and easy to apply. I believe that within a few years, it will be as essential a piece of kit as your needles!

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