The following comes from the American Academy of Family Physicians
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Need a lift? Try a little ice water in the right ear. According to The Brain in the News, an Australian researcher believes that people with manic depression have a “sticky switch” in their brain, which keeps the left and right hemispheres from switching into the dominant position during various mental tasks. Normally, the left and right sides of the brain take turns throughout the day, each performing separate tasks. A sticky “switch” may cause one hemisphere be locked in position during periods of depression and the other hemisphere to be locked in position during periods of mania. Ice water in the ear is a traditional neurologic test, which activates orientation pathways connected to regions on the opposite side of the brain. Researchers found that cold water in the right ear can temporarily alleviate depression and cold water in the left ear can ease the symptoms of mania.
More on this can be found at http://bipolarodyssey.com/PostPubdata.htm