AURICULAR PARTICULARS: A primer on acupuncture of the ear

Auriculotherapy as we know it didn't originate in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Modern auricular acupuncture is a direct result of research completed in the late 1950s by French neurologist Paul Nogier. Nogier's discoveries were readily adopted by Chinese practitioners, who were, of course, already employing millenia-old acupuncture techniques. Chinese practitioners brought us the "ear map" of acupuncture sites (with its many variations). Later, Dr. Frank Bahr of Germany and Dr. Rene Bourdiol of France boosted auriculotherapy with research showing that the outer ear has specific somatotopic properties– or, that certain points on the ear correspond to and effect specific locations within the central nervous system. While acupuncture itself is assuredly an "Eastern thing", Eastern and Western medicine come together when it comes to auriculotherapy. 


How does auricular acupuncture work?
A probe is used to locate specific points on your outer ear to elicit a sensitivity response, indicating an imbalance. Your feedback determines where needles are placed. Remember, points on the ear effect the central nervous system, which oversees functions of glands of the endocrine and digestive systems, and even your body's neurological response to pain. In turn, those systems effect your physical body, which eventually impacts your mental-emotional health. This is a central tenet of holistic medicine. Even when an acute injury or condition is present, treating the whole being (drawing upon the natural healing power of a balanced central nervous system) has an effect on a problem that may seem incidental, or unconnected.

Who benefits from auriculotherapy?

The short answer: just about everybody! Needling points in the ear can activate and boost your body's natural healthy state–all its systems working together, and in balance with each other. For this very reason, auricular acupuncture is often used in conjunction with other treatments. While you may be receiving acupuncture needling elsewhere on your body for a particular need, you may also receive auriculotherapy to increase blood flow and relaxation. One method, called the NADA protocol, utilizes five points within the ear, and is often utilized in treating pain, addiction and PTSD [article]. Since the outer ear is easily accessible, auricular acupuncture can be performed almost anywhere, and makes consistent, repeat treatments for smoking cessation and weight loss practical. If you have seen the Healing Foundations booth at any number of health fairs or public events, such as the recent Burger Fest in Roscoe Village [photos here], you've seen ear acupuncture in action!

Auriculotherapy at Healing Foundations is not limited to needles. To finish a treatment,  earseeds, magnets or special press needles are often placed on the ear's acupoints to sustain the effects of the treatment or stimulate a healing response. For those who are afraid of needles but want to experience the benefits of acutherapy, this simple form of treatment can have a calming and lasting therapeutic effect.