Ear Acupuncture is the stimulation of the auricle of the external ear for the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions in other parts of the body. It is also known as Auricular Acupuncture when the stimulation is achieved by the insertion of acupuncture needles, whereas the term Auricular Therapy often refers to electrical stimulation of the surface of ear reflex points. Specific points on the ear can also be stimulated by manual pressure, referred to as auricular acupressure or ear reflexology. Acupuncture points on the ear can also be stimulated with lasers, magnets, and ear pellets.
HOW IS AURICULAR ACUPUNCTURE DIFFERENT FROM ACUPUNCTURE?
Auricular acupuncture is typically considered one form of acupuncture, but there are both differences and similarities between the two procedures. Acupuncture is a form of medical treatment involving the stimulation of acupuncture points located on energy channels extending over the surface of the body, which are known as meridians.
From the philosophy of Taoism, there are six Yang meridians and six Yin meridians. In classical acupuncture, it is the Yang meridians that directly connect to the external ear. These energy lines of force are blocked or congested when there is some pathology in a specific area of the body. Insertion of acupuncture needles into specific acupoints can relieve the symptoms and underlying pathology of a particular health problem.
Some of the meridian energy lines of force connect to the external ear, thus creating the field of Auricular Acupuncture. Different perspectives of Auricular Therapy focus not on the acupuncture meridians but on the use of the ear as a localized reflex system connected to the central nervous system.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF EAR ACUPUNCTURE?
The earliest written records of ear acupuncture date back to the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, a compilation of acupuncture procedures that were in practice in 500 BC. Within this extensive text that covers a variety of acupuncture treatments, there is mention of specific acupuncture points on the external ear for the relief of certain medical disorders.
However, the manner in which auricular acupuncture is practiced today in China is actually based upon more recent discoveries that occurred in France in the 1950’s. The Traditional Oriental Medicine practiced in ancient China included just a scattered array of acupoints on the auricle for just a few health problems, whereas the current practice of auricular acupuncture shows a more complete organization of ear reflex points that can be used to relieve many health problems.
In the West, the earliest references to ear treatments were referred to in medical records from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The most complete descriptions of medical treatments through the ear were recorded in ancient Persia. A trail of evidence of the use of auricular stimulation for the treatment of sciatica back pain can be followed from these Persian records through medieval Europe to modern France.
Since the 1950’s, the use of specific ear points as a complete reflex system that can alleviate many health problems has been utilized by clinical practitioners in other parts of Europe, in Asia, and in North and South America.
WHO DISCOVERED EAR ACUPUNCTURE and AURICULAR THERAPY?
While the earliest uses of ear acupuncture points dates back to ancient China, modern applications of Auricular Therapy are based on the work of Dr. Paul Nogier of Lyon, France. In the 1950’s, Dr. Nogier noticed a strange scar on the upper ear of some of his patients. He found that all of them had been treated for sciatica pain by a local lay practitioner. This woman had cauterized a specific area of the external ear in order to relieve their low back pain.
Dr. Nogier conducted a similar procedure on his own sciatica patients and found that their back pain was also reduced. He then tried other means of stimulating this “sciatica point,” including the use of acupuncture needles, and found that they too were effective in alleviating sciatica pain.
The brilliance of Dr. Nogier was in extending this one observation into a more comprehensive model. Dr. Nogier theorized that if an area of the upper external ear is effective in treating low back pain, maybe other parts of the ear could treat other parts of the body. The ear is said to represent the whole anatomical body, but in an upside down orientation.
Nogier’s theory contended that the auricle could be compared to an inverted fetus, with the head represented on the lower ear lobe, the feet at the top of the external ear, and the rest of the body in between.
This model was first presented to naturopathic practitioners in France in 1957, then spread to acupuncturists in Germany, and finally was translated into Chinese. The Chinese seemed to have adopted the inverted fetus model of ear acupuncture in 1958.
THE NADA PROTOCOL AND AURICULAR THERAPY
The National Acupuncture Detoxification Assocation auricular acupuncture protocol is used around the world to help people deal with and recover from substance abuse and addictions.
The NADA protocol has been shown in a variety of clinical settings to be beneficial in the process of detoxification from substance abuse as well as to help with the emotional, physical and psychological attributes involved in addictions.
The detoxification protocols, in contrast with much of Chinese medicine, involve no diagnosis and are usually not modified in any way. Due to the fixed nature of the protocol, many localities allow non-acupuncturists to administer the auricular acupuncture treatments.
Generally speaking, the protocol is usually administered on its own without the addition of other ear or body acupuncture points. The length of the treatment depends greatly on the setting in which it is administered and the status of the patient. In general, the needles are left in for 25 – 60 minutes.
Robert Herbst AP, DOM is NADA trained and certified. Please call 954-586-2273 to schedule a free consultation with him to learn how ear acupuncture and the NADA protocol can help you. Our acupuncture clinic proudly serves the communities of Margate, Coral Springs, Coconut Creek and Parkland Florida.