Auricular Therapy: Origin, Uses and Side Effects

auricular therapyMedicine is a fascinating subject, one that is full of various treatment options, some of which appear unconventional. One such option is acupuncture, something that doesn’t appeal to most people. This is because it is associated with needles sticking out of every nook and cranny of the body. However, it does work-as auricular therapy shows. Auricular therapy is a form of alternative medicine based on the theory that the outer ear is a holographic system which reflects the entire human body in an inverted fetus form.

It is a type of acupuncture that involves sticking needles or acupontoscopes at specific points in the outer ear in order to manage certain physical, mental or emotional conditions. It’s believed that there are over 200 acupuncture points on the outer ear, with each named after a particular area of the human anatomy. When the acupuncture point is touched, it triggers an electrical impulse from the ear via the brain to the part of the body being treated. You can learn more about acupuncture works in this course.

Origin of Auricular Therapy

The origin of auriculotherapy dates back to the “Yellow Emperor’s Classic of internal Medicine”, a compilation of acupuncture therapy procedures that were practiced in 500 BC. However, the modern version of auriculotherapy was first developed in 1957 by Dr. Paul Nogier, a French neurologist. He keenly observed how French physicians treated sciatica by cauterizing an area of the ear and developed a soma-atopic map of the ear, which shows the various acupuncture points.

Dr. Nogier carried out a similar experiment and successfully alleviate backache in patients. He then used acupuncture needles to stimulate the sciatica points and that too was successful in reducing the sciatica pain. The stimulation of the acupuncture points causes the brain to release “feel-good” chemicals known as endorphins which helps lessen our perception of pain, resulting in a similar affect produced by opiate drugs such as codeine and morphine. The only difference between endorphins and opiate drugs is that they don’t lead to dependency.

Based on these findings Dr. Nogier developed a theory using the auricle (outer part of the ear) to represent the human body in an upside-down orientation. The top of the external ear represents the feet; the lower lobe represents the head while the rest of the ear represented the rest of the body. There are 5 ear points according to the hologram developed by Dr. Noiger namely: Shenmen, Kidney, Sympathetic, Lung upper and lung lower, hunger or mouth

Auricular locations are picked in line with;

1)   Pathological relative points of the body that are sensitive to touch

2)   The theory of meridians and teachings of Chinese early medicine practices

3)   Related body region with pain or pathology

Applications of Auricular Therapy

Auricular therapy, along with other unconventional treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic manipulation can be used together with conventional treatments to manage various conditions such as;

Weight Loss

Aricular therapy temporarily increases your body’s metabolic rate and lowers appetite by manipulating the nervous system. It alters the sympathetic nervous system to improve resistance to insulin, which metabolizes glucose in the body. Auricular therapy elevates the levels of a hormone known as serotonin, which tones smooth muscles of the stomach, and therefore reduces abdominal fat storage. Depending on one’s weight loss goals, the treatment can be done every two to three days a week to lose up to 10 pounds of weight.  You can learn about other ways to lose that extra weight in this course.

Treating Anxiety

Recent studies in Europe and china have shown that a combination of body and auricular acupuncture can help overcome general anxiety disorders and minor depression. It was observed that stimulating the ear acupuncture points alone was enough to help patients relax. Two researchers from Yale school of medicine, Dr. Shu Ming Wang and Dr. Zeev N. Kain, put this theory to test. They enrolled 55 patients randomly picked for a trial to find out whether auricular acupuncture could decrease anxiety.

Although the study did not find conclusive evidence that indeed the therapy produced significant physiological changes, they discovered that the patients who received acupuncture at a certain point experienced a great change in their behavioral anxiety levels. The researchers suggested that patients undergoing surgery should have acupuncture therapy to help reduce their levels of stress and pain. If the acupuncture is done prior to the operation, it will have a profound effect on anxiety and pain after the surgery.

Smoking Cessation

Nicotine addiction is very difficult to overcome. To successfully quit smoking, a person needs emotional support hence the treatment should not focus on managing the physical symptoms only. Auricular acupuncture helps patients overcome their smoking addiction by curbing the cravings and the characteristic restlessness. It also detoxifies the body and promotes relaxation. You can register for this course to learn how you can successfully quit smoking.

National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) recommends the 5-Point auricular acupuncture therapy for nicotine cessation. After the therapy, small pellets are taped on the acupuncture points on the ear. When the patient begins craving for a cigarettes, he is suppose to gently massage the acupuncture points by pressing the pellets.  Patients who have used this therapy to quit smoking confess that the taste and smell of cigarettes becomes unpalatable after a few sessions.

Treating Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is triggered by the constriction of connective tissues that surround the muscles, resulting in spasms. The brain and the nervous system normally regulate tissue and muscle contractions, and spasms occur when the nerves go haywire. Stimulating the reflex points on the ear electrically resets the nerve impulses, thereby stopping the spinal reflexes that cause the back pain. Auricular therapy can also be used to treat chronic pain caused by sore nerve endings, as it stimulates the release of the endorphins that lessen the pain. You can complement auricular therapy with other weight loss techniques advocated in this course.

Side Effects

Side effects of auricular acupuncture are rare but possible. Some people may feel ill before recovering in the course of the auricular therapy. This is mainly due to the heightened nervous sensitivity that magnifies the present medical symptoms or activates the medical ailments that were previously dormant. The good news is that it’s only temporary as the self-healing capabilities of your body will soon kick into action. Other side effects include light-headedness, soreness and fatigue.