Auricular Acupuncture: Voodoo or Medicine?
What is Auricular Acupuncture?
Auricular Acupuncture is a Microsystem of Acupuncture that reflects the entire body on the ear, in a similar way to reflexology or iridology. Tiny needles are placed into acupuncture points on the outer ear exerting a gentle stimulation that creates a response in a particular part of the body to promote natural self-healing.
Auricular Acupuncture is unique because it can be used independently or as an adjunct to other therapies. It is possible to learn the basics in a short amount of time in contrast to body acupuncture which requires several years of intense study and practice. Furthermore, it is a more economical and convenient system of treatment primarily because the ears are easily accessible and people do not need to remove any clothing to receive treatment.
Auricular Acupuncture is easy to master and quick to administer. People usually sit in a chair to receive treatment and so the practitioner only needs a small area in which to work. Auricular acupuncture is most effective and beneficial when it is administered regularly, usually once or twice a week. Auricular Acupuncture has been used to treat many common complaints such as:
diagnosed painful conditions
Treatment in the UK is most widely known for addiction problems as it can aid in the detoxification and recovery process when administered by a suitably trained practitioner.
Auricular Acupuncture has a history dating back over 3000 years. It is mentioned in the ‘The Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal Medicine’ a Chinese medical classic from 500 AD showing that the ear is connected to all organs of the body and corresponding meridians of classical acupuncture. Historically pirates wore a gold earring, not just to decorate their ears, but also because the point pierced would improve eyesight.
Medical records from Ancient Greece and Rome show treatment in the ear for reproductive disorders, while medical texts in Ancient Persia record treatment of sciatic pain by cauterization on the ear. However it was Dr. Paul Nogier, a physician from Lyon, France who introduced Modern Auriculotherapy to the world and is recognized by the Chinese as being the ‘Father of Auricular Acupuncture’.
Nogier was the first to create a systemised anatomical correspondence between the ear and the body. He found that the ear had 3 types of tissue from each of the primary tissues developed in the uterus; ectodermal, mesodermal and endodermal tissue which make up all the body systems. He found that each type of embryological tissue accounts for the different somatotopic functions related to the different areas of our auricular anatomy. In addition there are three principal nerves that innervate the ear and have a similar somatotopic function on the ear as they do with the rest of the physical body they innervate.
Nogier's development was made through clinical trials based on mapping brain areas with these physiological links to the human embryo for reference of complaints and points for treatment. More than 200 hundred points were discovered on the ear.
In the late 1950’s Nogier’s work was brought to the attention of The Nanking Army Ear Acupuncture Research Team in China. They treated over 2000 patients using Nogier’s research and recorded the clinical efficacy of ear acupuncture.
In 1990 the World Health Organisation (WHO) collaborated with doctors from Asia, Europe and America to finalise the standardisation of auricular anatomical names, points and locations as it is widely practiced today. The WHO lists many conditions for which Auricular Acupuncture is appropriate. The Director General of the World Health Organisation at the time proclaimed that Auricular Acupuncture is probably the most developed and best documented scientifically of all the Microsystems of acupuncture and is the most practical and widely used.
Today Auricular Acupuncture is administered in prisons, hospitals, substance misuse agencies and Healthcare Professional clinics all over the world. The College of Auricular Acupuncture in the UK has seen a rapid rise in the popularity of Auricular Acupuncture. (link to the college website) It has become increasingly chosen as a safe mode of treatment for many conditions including musculoskeletal pain, migraine, allergies.
How does Auricular Acupuncture Work?
There are over 200 acupuncture points on each ear. If you look at the chart you will see that points relating to our head, teeth and face are located on the ear lobe. Our internal organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, stomach and intestines are positioned in the deep ‘well’ or inferior conchae region of the ear. We have a semi-circular vertical ridge around the conchae that represents our spinal column. Taking this into consideration Auricular Acupuncture has evolved as a complete microsystem for the treatment of many complaints and diseases. The American military have invested a considerable sum in research and developed Battlefield Acupuncture.
To understand how Auricular Acupuncture works from a Western viewpoint, we have to imagine the outer ear like a switchboard to the brain. Each acupuncture point being treated triggers impulses from the ear via the brain and neural pathways to the specific part of the body being treated. Functional MRI (fMRI) shows that Auricular Acupuncture triggers an effect in areas of the brain specific to the corresponding zone on the ear. Each point treated releases endorphins, blocks pain receptors, and elevates levels of adenosine that affect a change in the targeted anatomical area.
We produce endorphins naturally when we carry out physical exercise and the effects of the exercise make us ‘feel good’. Auricular Acupuncture has been found to stimulate higher levels of endorphins, which help alleviate both mental and physical pain.
Auricular Acupuncture is a comprehensive treatment. It offers more than pain relief. It also treats menstrual disorders, digestive problems, sciatica and high blood pressure. Auricular Acupuncture can be administered easily, quickly and economically, and is effective for most chronic complaints.
What Happens in a Treatment?
Auricular Acupuncture uses shorter needles than those used for body acupuncture. Electro-Auricular therapy, press seeds, pellets and ASP”s may also be used. The practitioner will select the appropriate treatment taking into consideration age, lifestyle, general health and the condition being treated.
During the Auricular Acupuncture treatment the practitioner inserts 5-7 needles while you are sitting comfortably in a chair. The needles stay in for 20-45 minutes while you are quietly relaxing, perhaps listening to some relaxation music. This allows the treatment to take effect. After the session you will feel relaxed, calm and have a general sense of well being.
Auricular Acupuncture is widely used and highly respected by medical doctors and other healthcare professionals, as a therapy in its own right, in France, Germany, Italy, Greece and the USA. The College of Auricular Acupuncture's mission is to have Auricular Acupuncture as widely used and highly respected in the UK as it is in other parts of the world. To this end, we designed a unique comprehensive training programme. Our flagship training is the Certificate in Auricular Acupuncture, an immersion program designed for those with a passion for health and wellbeing who wish to pursue a Healthcare Professional career or add a new skill to an existing discipline. The emphasis of the training is very much on developing the practical skills needed to empower individuals using Auricular Acupuncture to promote healing.
In 2018 we launched our ‘Auricular Acupuncture Treasures Masterclass Series’ bringing the world’s leading lights of Auriculotherapy and Auricular Medicine to the UK.
Further information on training in this remarkable therapy can be found on our website: