Auriculotherapy...or Ear Acupuncture

Ear Acupuncture (Auriculotherapy)

Ear acupuncture (also known as Auricular acupuncture or Auriculotherapy) is a specialized branch of acupuncture where the ear is viewed as a microsystem of the whole body.

It is often used in the treatment of drug withdrawal (including nicotine) as well as pain relief, from lower back ache to migraines. But it is also great for mental/emotional problems such as depression and anxiety, as well as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

So how is ear acupuncture different to normal acupuncture?

Well there is no difference; people have been sticking pins in their ears (and hands, feet, abdomens, and anywhere else you can think of) to see how it affects the body, for a very long time!

Ear treatments have been around for a long time. In around 450BCE Hippocrates, who studied medicine in Egypt, wrote about the Egyptian method of treating impotence by bleeding points on the back of the ear.

And just a few hundred years later (250BCE – 200CE) the Chinese begin to write about points on the ear for the treatment of specific conditions.

Yet, it was in fact a French medical doctor in the 1950’s, Paul Nogier, who discovered that there are anatomical correspondences associated with the image of the inverted foetus in the ear. He observed a scar located precisely on the upper portion of the ear on several of his patients, made by a lay healer in Marseilles, had successfully treated their sciatic pain. Upon finding this out Nogier was able to map the human body and its functions on the ear.

What has this got to do with Chinese medicine? This information eventually reached China where Mao Zedong was publicly encouraging the development and modernization of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Large scale trials carried out in China validated Nogier’s discoveries and led to the eventual widespread acceptance of his approach.

The anatomical representations and acupuncture points identified in the ear are therefore, for the most part, recent discoveries and cannot be considered traditional, but because of the inclusive nature of Chinese medicine and its ability to absorb ideas from outside, ear acupuncture has been embraced by TCM.

So, how does it work?

As you may have guessed then, the ear is not just for hearing and balance. It is formed from the 3 embryological germ layers - the ectoderm, endoderm and the mesoderm – and is thus connected to some of the main nerve branches in the body. This is how points on the ear are able to influence different areas of the body and bodily functions and their associated problems.

Endodermal = organs of the thorax and abdomen
Mesodermal = projections of the bones, muscle and connective tissue
Ectodermal = Central Nervous System, eyes, teeth, mouth and parts of the skull.

Does it hurt?

Generally, acupuncture does not hurt. Some people feel the needles as they go in, and some people feel nothing. Ear Acupuncture needles are very small solid needles, not hollow like hypodermic needles, and they are much, much thinner - about the diameter of a thick human hair.

If you would like to know more about Auricular acupuncture and how it can help you, please do contact me.

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