By Christina Morris, L.Ac.
Auriculotherapy is a therapy used to treat a wide range of health concerns through treatments on the ear. The term auriculotherapy refers to therapy on the auricle, or the outer portion of the ear. Theories indicate that specific points on the external part of the ear correspond to various organs and regions of the body. By stimulating certain points, numerous health conditions can be alleviated. Auriculotherapy has been used throughout the world for thousands of years. Many countries such as China, Greece, Italy, France, Egypt and the United States have found auriculotherapy safe and effective in the treatment of numerous ailments.
Chinese documentations of auricular therapies date back to 500 B.C. Physicians such as Hippocrates and Galen recorded the use of ear piercing and other forms of ear stimulation in the treatment of sexual and menstrual disorders. Roman medical records dating back to 200 A.D., indicate cauterization to a specific area of the ear for the relief of sciatic pain. This form of scarring on a certain area of the ear continued to be used throughout the years. In 1950 this form of sciatic treatment inspired Dr. Paul Nogier of France; Dr. Nogier mapped an arrangement of areas in the ear representing an inverted fetus, and giving specific anatomical locations to points on the ear. The World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged auricular therapy and in 1990 decided to finalize the standardization for auricular anatomy and the locations of ear reflex points.
Many professionals around the world use auricular therapy as an adjunct to their practices. All acupuncturists are trained in auriculotherapy. Other professionals that may be trained in auriculotherapy include medical doctors, osteopathic doctors, chiropractors, dentists, nurses, psychotherapists, physical therapists, biofeedback therapists, detox specialists, and reflexologists. Auriculotherapy has been effective in the treatment of a wide range of health concerns including: musculoskeletal, respiratory, gastrointestinal, skin disorders, eyes, ears, nose, and throat disorders, control of blood pressure, stress, depression, smoking control and other addictions, weight control and many others. This therapy can be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies.
The stimulation of the auricular points can be achieved through pressure with the fingers, pressure with metallic pellets, small magnets or seeds taped onto the points, or through insertion of acupuncture needles. Stimulation with an electrical current can also be applied to the needles or directly to the points with a special probe. Typical acupuncture treatments for auriculotherapy can last anywhere from twenty minutes to one hour. The small pellets, magnets or seeds which are secured with tape are generally left in place for 3 to 5 days for more continuous stimulation of the points. Many programs offer ear acupuncture for drug detoxification and withdrawal symptoms. The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) has selected ear points for acupuncture treatment to relieve narcotic withdrawal symptoms and to facilitate the treatment of chemical dependency. Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx has a world renowned program using auriculotherapy for drug detoxification.
Many clinical trials and research studies have been published in various medical journals reporting the efficacy of auriculotherapy in the treatment of numerous health conditions. Auriculotherapy is also a very cost-effective treatment that requires very little equipment but should be performed by a trained professional.