Auriculotherapy: What is it and what are its uses?
The most important acupuncture points of the ear and how they work
Auriculotherapy is a therapeutic technique in Traditional Chinese Medicine where specific points of the auricular pavilion (outer ear) and the ear itself are stimulated in order to generate an effect in the body to allow it to promote and balance some bodily functions
Auriculotherapy is used as a diagnosis as well as a therapy, since the auricular points can indicate to us the location of the problem; it can also send a definite stimulus to the affected area in order to apply treatment.
What follows is information about its benefits, what is the aim of auricular therapy, how it works and what are the most common treatments.
We also indicate the most relevant points applied in clinical practice, what methods are applied for a diagnosis as well as the products and tools applied in the treatment carried out by qualified health professionals.
INDEX OF THE MOST IMPORTANT TOPICS ON AURICULOTHERAPY
It is important to know that Auriculotherapy works as a microsystem where areas of the body, organs and physiological functions are reflected in our ears.
The most common way of visualizing this is to imagine the inverted position of a baby in the womb This is because the acupoints in the ear correspond to the said position of a fetus.
What is Auriculotherapy good for? What health problems does it treat?
Benefits and Indications:
Generally, Auriculotherapy is used to diagnose certain problems as well as to treat them. Let’s see how it works:
AS A DIAGNOSTIC ASSESSMENT
When a person has pain in a certain part of the body for instance, the reflex point in the ear’s microsystem will present a difference in the electric potential as opposed to the rest of the adjacent areas. It is quite possible for that part to be painful as well, on pressure.
This method will allow to explore the ear in order to detect those areas or activities in the body that we want to confirm as being affected, observing how the ear reflects them.
The process of diagnosis and auricular assessment is usually carried out in the following order:
- Detection of electric resistance
AS A TREATMENT TECHNIC:
Since Auriculotherapy is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, once the therapist completes a diagnostic assessment and differentiation of syndromes, the process of stimulating certain parts of the ear may begin.
Stimulation may be carried out in various ways: applying massage using fingers, applying adhesive Vaccaria seeds (ear seeds), performing auricular acupuncture, moxibustion, electro-stimulation or even infra-red light.
COMMON DISORDERS TREATED WITH AURICULOTHERAPY
Auriculotherapy can treat a wide variety of illnesses, both acute and chronic. Let’s look at some of the most common illnesses:
- Gynecological problems and menstrual pain
- Chronic illnesses
- Sport injuries
- Difficulty with salivation
- Anxiety and stress
- Poor concentration
- Sciatica and back pain
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Poor blood circulation
- Obesity and to promote weight loss
- Other illnesses
Treatment for these illnesses is possible thanks to the effects produced after a proper stimulation of the auricular points and after a good differentiation of syndromes.
Benefits, Indications and effects promoted by Auriculotherapy
- Promotes the flow of Qi (energy)
- Activates physiological functions
- Acts as an analgesic
- May stimulate the body’s glands
- It is a safe and easily applied technique
- It allows for a short and intense stimulation (with needles) or a light and prolonged stimulation (with seeds)
- It can be easily combined with other techniques
- Its effects are obtained very quickly
- It may stimulate the segregation of bodily substances
- Calming anxiety
- Tobacco and alcohol dependency
- Sleep disorders, insomnia
- Release blocked Qi in certain meridians
- Psychological disorders (the effect of Auriculotherapy is reduced when a patient is already taking psychotropic medication)
- Improving painful and obstructive IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Digestive problems and endocrine conditions
- Obesity, weight loss
- Chronic illnesses or difficult to treat conditions
What is a microsystem?
How are the acupoints in the ear stimulated?
Microsystems as we know them today originated in France between 1954-1956, thanks to Paul Nogier who first created a chart or detailed mapping of the outer ear.
The auricular map shows the direct correlation that exists between the ear and the body and in which parts of the anatomy the two are correlated.
The fundamentals of a microsystem follow the holistic approach where one part of the body (one of them being the ear) holds a holographic representation of the whole body.
Paul Nogier realized that the ear has a triple sensory innervation system and that each such nerve corresponds to the embryonic development layers: endoderm, mesoderm and ectoderm.
Although some of the concepts similar to microsystems were already being applied in Traditional Chinese Medicine, from NeiJing (the “Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Energy”), Nogier’s work was the basis from which Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture developed, intensifying and expanding microsystem models with a methodology similar to Nogier’s focus and auriculotherapy.
For this reason, today we have multiple microsystems such as the soles of our feet (foot reflexology), the hand microsystem, iridology (diagnosis of the eye), craniosacral acupuncture therapy or acupuncture reflexology of the facial microsystems, among others.
HOW CAN WE STIMULATE THE ACUPOINTS OF THE OUTER EAR?
TOOLS AND AURICULOTHERAPY TECHNIQUES
In addition to the above, there are other more complex techniques, like moxibustion, infrared therapy, electric stimulation, etc. We just mentioned the most common.
IMPORTANT POINTS OF AURICULOTHERAPY AND THE OUTER EAR REFLEXOLOGY MAP
It is recommended that Auriculotherapy be performed or supervised by a qualified health professional or therapist.
We will detail some of the most common acupoints and where they are localized in the ear.
It is important to note that there are various auricular maps being applied in the different schools of therapeutic studies associated with Chinese, Japanese and Korean Acupuncture, or even with Nogier’s School itself.
Most of the reflex zones in the ear and its points are shared, but there can be slight differences in the classification, functions, extra or additional points.
It is worth to mention once again that Auriculotherapy is a therapeutic technique which is continuously under research and development
Does Auriculotherapy cause side effects or have contraindications?
With proper sterilization performed under strict guidelines, auriculotherapy is a safe technique that should not cause side effects.
Patients of advanced age, frail or who suffer from hypertension should take rest periods before and after auriculotherapy treatment.
When should Auriculotherapy be avoided?
- it should not be applied to children under 7 years of age
- it should not be applied in chronic cases of hypertension, coronary insufficiency or chronic asthma
- Auriculotherapy application is not recommended on wounds, inflamed, swollen or burnt areas
- It is not recommended for patients affected with cancer, except to ease their pain symptoms
- Electro-stimulation is not suitable for patients with arrythmia or cardiac problems, or those who wear a pacemaker
- Avoid the stimulation of some hormonal acupoints during menstruation
Always consult your therapist or doctor if you have any queries about these indications.
Why is auriculotherapy so well known for obesity or anxiety treatment during weight loss therapy?
In recent years various studies were carried out on Auriculotherapy for weight loss treatment.
Given that in western countries overweight is one the most serious health problems, an increasing number of people seek techniques such as auriculotherapy to complement other conventional weight loss treatments.
Auriculotherapy certainly isn’t the only treatment for weight loss but its effectiveness in those cases gave it world-wide fame and visibility in the west, since some Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques are still not well known in some western countries.
The most important points of the ear for appetite reduction and obesity treatment with auriculotherapy.
Auriculotherapy: Its history and context within Traditional Chinese Medicine:
The origins of auriculotherapy as it is applied today began in the 50’s, as a result of Paul Nogier’s research, as already mentioned in the topic on microsystems.
The more extended application of auriculotherapy however, utilizes the fundamentals of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture, for diagnosis as well as for the selection of acupoints to treat, where it certainly includes works developed by Nogier.
For more than two millennia, classic Chinese Medicine books and famous doctors of Chinese antiquity mentioned the application of auriculotherapy to treat a series of illnesses.
For this reason, the two variants, the “Auricle” of Traditional Chinese Medicine and that of Paul Nogier, generated two versions or two types of Auriculotherapy Schools with some differences.
This doesn’t mean that there are two adversarial schools, because Chinese Medicine is an inclusive medical system which allows for a coherent integration of new discoveries in its system.
Consequently, in the last few years professionals of Chinese Medicine have taken on board Nogier’s research published in the 50’s and analyzed them, included them in TCM and developed them up until today.
Auriculotherapy therefore, can be used as the main technique in a treatment as well as a complementary technique to strengthen the effect of the other treatments.
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