Auriculotherapy – Ear Acupuncture?

by Jim Chalmers

Auriculotherapy is a term used to describe an acupuncture micro-system which includes the detection and reflexive treatment of physical, emotional and neurological disorders by the application of massage, low energy laser or acupuncture needles to specific locations on the ear.

Auriculotherapy can be used to treat the same range of conditions as Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is safe, comfortable and highly effective. Painful conditions often respond very quickly to Auriculotherapy.

The earliest records of auricular treatment for health conditions date from China (250 BCE) and Egypt (Hippocrates 450BCE). More recent historical documentation occurs in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, detailing ear cautery for the treatment of various complaints including sciatica and sexual dysfunction; those treatments, however, were functional treatments of specific conditions, empirical formulae. There was no systematic approach to the use of the ear as a micro-system to treat the whole body until the discoveries of the French physician, Paul Nogier.

Auriculotherapy is commonly associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture but auriculotherapy, or ear acupuncture, as it is practised today is a modern European discovery pioneered by Dr Paul Nogier. His discovery and mapping of the anatomical correspondences of the inverted foetus in the ear was thoroughly tested and adopted by the Chinese Traditional medicine profession in the 1950s and has since been included in their TCM curriculum. In recognition of Dr Nogier’s discoveries, the Chinese government honoured him with the title ‘Father of modern ear acupuncture.’

The whole body, the muscular skeletal system, organs and neurological system, can be accessed and treated from the ear. There are also special points that influence things like sleep, digestion and anxiety. Unlike body acupuncture points which, for an experienced practitioner, can easily be located by palpation, the points on the ear need precise determination. To locate points precisely, the practitioner feels the patient’s pulse while checking specific regions of the ear. There is a distinct change in the pulse (mediated by the patients own autonomic nervous system) when a point that reflects a pathology is lightly stimulated by touch or laser beam. The point can then be treated with very fine needles or low-level infra-red laser therapy. The use of the patient’s own pulse to determine which points to treat and their precise location is the major difference between modern European auriculotherapy and Chinese ear acupuncture, where the location of points is determined by referring to charts.

Auriculotherapy is a powerful modality influencing all body systems – the soma and the psyche. It alleviates pain and enhances the patient’s emotional constitution. Patients feel relaxed and often remark on the sense of calm that they feel as their system is influenced by the treatment. Because my original training is in classical traditional Chinese medicine, when appropriate I find it easy to incorporate body-acupuncture points. This combination allows the treatment to be oriented with an understanding of the pathology, according to the principles of Chinese medicine.

Some results are dramatic – pain relief in minutes. At other times, due to the nature of the condition, results are achieved over several treatments. Emotional trauma that has impeded healing can be addressed utilizing auriculotherapy, allowing sometimes longterm health conditions to progress towards healing. For a practitioner these are the most heart- warming results – even after 19 years of clinic experience I continue to be amazed at the way auriculotherapy and acupuncture influence people’s health and well being.