Ear Acupuncture: What it is and Why it Works
Many people are surprised to learn that Auriculotherapy, also known as ear acupuncture, is an effective way to treat many health conditions. Although there is reference in Chinese texts dating as far back as 500 BC to using the external ear to relieve symptoms, the current practice of auriculotherapy in China and the United States is based on the research of a French doctor in the 1950’s. Dr. Paul Nogier, of Lyon France, noticed that many of his sciatica patients all had a particular scar in their ear. These patients had been treated by a local layperson that had cauterized the point in their ear that corresponded according to Chinese medicine to their back pain. After learning this, Nogier began using acupuncture needles to treat this “sciatica point” with great success. He theorized the ear represents the whole anatomical body and could therefore be used to treat many conditions. We often refer to the ear as a microsystem of the whole body.
Auriculotherapy works for a number of reasons. One mechanism is that nerves from the ear connect with reflex centers in the brain. These neurological pathways send messages to the spinal cord and then to the appropriate body area being targeted. Another way that ear acupuncture helps relieve pain and other symptoms is through releasing endorphins. Research has shown that the stimulation of ear points causes the systemic release of endorphins. Endorphins help create a sense of wellbeing and ease pain.
Ear acupuncture is an effective and accessible way to treat a variety of conditions in a variety of settings. The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) developed a special protocol of ear points to treat addictions and emotional trauma. The NADA protocol is used in many addiction and recovery centers around the world. Chronic and acute pain conditions respond well to ear acupuncture. Stress, insomnia, and anxiety are also treated effectively. In 2009 the US Air Force, Navy and Army began sponsoring their physicians to train in ear acupuncture to more effectively treat soldiers and veterans for chronic pain and acute and chronic stress disorders, like P.T.S.D.
Here at Integrative Acupuncture in Montpelier, Vermont, ear acupuncture is often integrated into our full acupuncture treatments. We also offer ear acupuncture in a group setting every Thursday 6-7:30pm. Typically 3-6 acupuncture needles are placed in the ears for 15-40 minutes while the patient rests in a chair. These group treatments are $10.00. Please visit our website or call our office for more information.