Auriculotherapy, also called ear acupuncture, applies the principles of acupuncture to specific points on the ear. Auriculotherapists believe that healing processes can be promoted by working with these points on the ear, because the ear contains many blood vessels and nerve endings that, when stimulated, influence the organs and bodily functions.
Acupuncture is one of the world's oldest therapeutic techniques, having its roots in ancient
In modern times, auriculotherapy has been advanced by Paul Nogier of
Auriculotherapy is a quick, inexpensive, and non-invasive method of pain control. Ear acupuncture is also used as anesthesia during medical procedures. It is used frequently to help people overcome drug, tobacco, and alcohol addictions, and is used to treat chronic health conditions and diseases.
After an initial exam and interview, auriculotherapists begin treatment by checking the patient's ears closely. Practitioners may palpate (feel) the ears with their hands, and check for any irregularities or painful spots. They may check for spots that are insensitive or numb by using cold or hot needles on the ear. They may also rely on electrical devices that measure skin resistance at points on the ear.
Several techniques may be used during auriculotherapy. Acupuncture needles are typically extremely thin. More than one needle may be used at one time, inserted deeply, or just pricked slightly along the contours of the ear. On some points, needles may be twisted or slanted to create more healing effects. Needles may be left in from a few minutes to half an hour or more.
Auriculotherapists may use permanent press needles. These small, tack-shaped needles may be attached to the ear with a narrow band of tape for several days or weeks. They are used for conditions that may require constant stimulation to acupuncture points on the ear, such as addictions, chronic (long-lasting) infections, and other health problems.
Auriculotherapists also practice electroacupuncture, which utilizes electrical devices to send small electrical currents into the ear or through the body. Electroacupuncture is used for conditions such as paralysis or nerve damage in the body, drug and alcohol addictions, and chronic pain. Auriculotherapists may also employ bleeding, which removes one or two drops of blood at certain points on the ear. Bleeding is used for health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease .
Auriculotherapy, like all acupuncture, should not be performed on weak or exhausted patients, nor on those who are very hungry or have just eaten a meal or drunk alcohol. Auriculotherapy should not be performed on pregnant women during the first two trimesters (six months) of pregnancy, and afterwards only on very particular points on the ear for pain control. Auriculotherapy is not recommended for children under seven years old, and should be performed with care on the elderly. Ear acupuncture is to be avoided by those with anemia (low red blood cell quantity in the blood). Patients with nervous conditions should be thoroughly relaxed and prepared before treatment. For people that find acupuncture disagreeable, ear massage and acupressure may be preferable to treatment with needles.
Some patients may experience uncomfortable side effects during or after acupuncture. Side effects that may occur after treatment include fainting, dizziness, nausea, numbness, headaches, sweating, or sharp pains throughout the body. These reactions may be due to anxiety or because acupuncture needles have been inserted too deeply or in the wrong area. Side effects can be alleviated by removing the needles and allowing the patient to lie down under supervision. Some side effects that occur during treatment, such as hot flashes, increased pulse, and temporarily increased symptoms, are considered normal and usually disappear quickly.