Auricular Therapy

What Is Auricular Therapy?

Auricular therapy is one of the most important components of traditional Chinese acupuncture. It is a specialized form where the auricle (ear) is used to stimulate various organs and meridians in the body. The ear represents a fetus in the womb but in an inverted position. It is a microcosm of the macrocosm: the ear represents the entire body.

How Does Auricular Therapy Work?
Based on extensive clinical research, there are three accepted theories which explain how auricular therapy works.
The Homuncular Reflex Theory (Anatomical Model) shows that the map of the location of auricular points is in the shape of an inverted fetus. Message transfer between auricular points and related body parts has been found to be bi-directional.
The Delta Reflex Theory (Lock & Key) shows that stimulation of body parts causes a change in temperatre of the related auricular point, and vice versa. In short, the 'key' of auricular stimulation can open the 'lock' of somatic 'body' response in the corresponding body parts.

A deeper look at Meridian Theory shows that energy travels along a system of pathways, neither vessels nor nerves, and converges at the ear. This is one of the most important aspects of Chinese auricular therapy.


Why Is It Old?

Auricular therapy has a long history in China. The earliest recorded mention of the close relationship between the ear and the body is found in the Silk Book Meridians, written around 500 B.C., which states that the ear meridian originates in the back of the hand and ascends to enter the ear. Auricular diagnostic and therapeutic methods were first documented in Nei Jing, The Classic of Medicine, written around 200 B.C., which stated that the nature and location of various diseases could be determined by inspection of the shape, color, moistness, and collaterals of the ear. It recommended the use of blood-letting puncturing of the collaterals of the ear to treat headache and side pain.
Later practitioners continued to develop the practical application of auricular diagnosis and to do research into the mechanisms of auricular therapy. During the Jin dynasty (265-420 AD), auricular massage was widely used to preserve health and to diagnose and treat various diseases and disorders. The use of auricular acupuncture and moxibustion was first recorded during the Tang dynasty (608-907 AD). During the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 AD), auricular medicinal coating came into use, and auricular massage for children was popular. During the Qing dynasty (1644-1911 AD), the use of auricular temperature measurement as a means of prognosis was recorded. This led to the creation of the first ear map and auricular massage chart which showed a relationship between some areas of the ear and body.

Why Is It New?

In 1946, an American scientist reported that there was some kind of relationship between congenital development of the kidney and the shape of ears, but it didn't get people's attention. In 1957, French practitioner Dr. Paul Nogier published his discovery that the distribution pattern of auricular points was related to the shape of an inverted fetus. After this information was published in China, it spread very fast and people combined Dr. Nogier's theory with traditional Chinese medicine to develop Chinese Auricular Therapy. This new technique is characterized by diagnosis and treatment according to Chinese meridian theory. New points and treatment patterns have been discovered, and the function of both new and old points has been updated. In 1982, the World Health Organization (WHO) asked the Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion Association to formulate the International Standard of Auricular Points.
The development of modern science has led to the development of new treatment methods and equipment. Instead of just a couple of methods, there are now more than 15 ways to perform auricular therapy, including massage, electric stimulation, needles, moxa, seeds, magnets, laser etc. More methods give us more choices, making this form of acupuncture ideal for the young and old, and of course for those who are "shy" of Points, the devices in Acupuncture.