The amazing field of Auricular acupuncture 1

In my last month’s column, I related the story of a US army doc­tor, named Col­on­el Richard Niemtzow, who has achieved such suc­cess in treat­ing Amer­ic­an sol­diers suf­fer­ing from trau­mat­ic shock, that his tech­niques are cur­rently being incor­por­ated in Amer­ic­an army train­ing manu­als.  The most inter­est­ing aspect of this story was his unusu­al treat­ment meth­ods. This west­ern phys­i­cian was achiev­ing last­ing improve­ments by stim­u­lat­ing acu­punc­ture points on the ear of his patients with adhes­ive pel­lets. This led me to invest­ig­ate this unusu­al meth­od more thor­oughly, and I have become quickly fas­cin­ated by this remark­able tech­nique.

Auri­cu­lar acu­punc­ture was developed by a French phys­i­cian called Dr. Nogi­er in the early 1950s after he noticed recent scars on the ear of one of this patient who had been suc­cess­fully treated for sci­at­ic pain. From that obser­va­tion emerged the concept of the ear is a unique microsys­tem of our body’s func­tions which could be used as a tool for the dia­gnos­is, pre­ven­tion, and treat­ment of human ill­nesses.

The human ear is the first organ to devel­op in our body. It starts hear­ing sounds in the womb after only eight weeks, and it becomes fully func­tion­al only approx­im­ately 18 weeks after our con­cep­tion. In the Ori­ent­al medicine’s frame­work, our sens­ory organ is a power­ful cen­ter of energy through which all the twelve main meridi­ans inter­sect. This energy is con­cen­trated in over hun­dreds of points loc­ated around its struc­ture which can be stim­u­lated for thera­peut­ic pur­poses. Our French phys­i­cian was the first to devel­op a map of the ear based on an inver­ted foetus. Accord­ing to that concept, the area cor­res­pond­ing to the head is loc­ated in the ear­lobe, the sec­tion asso­ci­ated with the spine fol­lows the pos­teri­or ridge of the ear, while the hands and feet are posi­tioned around the anteri­or and pos­teri­or of the apex. The cor­res­pond­ence between the human ear and spe­cif­ic parts of the body has been veri­fied in sev­er­al med­ic­al exper­i­ments.

In one of them which was under­taken by Korean sur­geon Dr. M. H Cho in the 1970s. The detect­or of an elec­tric ther­mo­met­er was taped to vari­ous auri­cu­lar points, while the fin­gers. feet and knees of the patients were being stim­u­lated by heat or cold. After only 10 to 15 seconds of stim­u­la­tion, an increase or decrease of between 1.0 to 5.0 degrees cen­ti­grade of tem­per­at­ure was noted on the cor­res­pond­ing auri­cu­lar points. When the exper­i­ment was reversed, and the heat or cold was applied on the auri­cu­lar points, there was a sim­il­ar increase of tem­per­at­ure on the related parts of the body.

Oth­er exper­i­ments have demon­strated that when a dis­order is present in the body. The elec­tric­al res­ist­ance in the cor­res­pond­ing auri­cu­lar points will decrease.

In the last thirty years, this form of acu­punc­ture has been suc­cess­fully used for the treat­ment of numer­ous dis­orders, includ­ing the treat­ment of drug addic­tion in the United States, to help weight reduc­tion, alle­vi­ate anxi­ety and depres­sion, and to cure chron­ic insom­nia in eld­erly patients. Also, auri­cu­lar acu­punc­ture increases the pain threshold in the body, and it can be being used as an altern­at­ive paink­iller to reduce the depend­ence on chem­ic­al rugs

It is a very safe ther­apy. To avoid irrit­a­tion of the tis­sues, both ears are often treated altern­at­ively, with vari­ous meth­ods, from tiny beads of selec­ted metals to veget­ables seeds or mag­nets. The applied pel­lets are taped and stim­u­lated for one to two minutes sev­er­al times a day by the patients who can con­trol the effects, and be act­ively involved in the treat­ment.

Dur­ing a suc­cess­ful exper­i­ment in a nurs­ing home in Hong Kong for the treat­ment of chron­ic insom­nia in older people in the 1990s, the research­er selec­ted points in the area cor­res­pond­ing to the kid­ney, and the heart. The kidney’s energy gradu­ally declines as one gets older res­ult­ing in a hyper­activ­ity of the heart with increased wake­ful­ness and pal­pit­a­tions. The Kid­ney is closely asso­ci­ated with the blad­der, which becomes weak­er as well. This leads to a devel­op­ing need to urin­ate dur­ing the night, and a dis­turbed sleep.  In addi­tion, auri­cu­lar points cor­res­pond­ing to the liv­er were also stim­u­lated. Being in charge of the flow of Qi (energy) through­out the body, the liv­er it is eas­ily unsettled by emo­tions such as stress, depres­sion or anger. Oth­er selec­ted points included were the spleen, to pro­mote diges­tion, as well as, vari­ous points asso­ci­ated with the brain, espe­cially the sub­cor­tex area which is asso­ci­ated with sleep.

In that exper­i­ment, five tiny mag­nets were applied to the ears of the patients and replaced every three to four days to avoid irrit­a­tion. After three weeks of ther­apy, the major­ity of patients repor­ted an improve­ment in their qual­ity of sleep, but also a bet­ter appet­ite, with few­er head­aches, dizzi­ness, noc­turn­al urin­a­tion and depres­sion. This improve­ment was still tak­ing place when the fol­low-up assess­ment occurred three months later.

This is anoth­er sig­ni­fic­ant addi­tion to the tools at our dis­pos­al for the treat­ment of the human body. It demon­strates once again how much there is still to dis­cov­er in the field of Ori­ent­al medi­cine, and what a fas­cin­at­ing jour­ney it turns out to be.

Olivi­er Lejus  MHSc,BHSc. is a registered acu­punc­tur­ist prac­ti­cing in Sydney.


About Olivier Lejus

I was born in France and I emigrated to Australia in 1980. I worked as a circus performer, puppeteer and actor before I began studying Traditional Chinese Medicine a the University of Technology of Sydney in 1997. I graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of of science degree in Traditional Chinese medicine. I am now specializing in Japanese style acupuncture for the treatment of female and male infertility, pain, and anxiety.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One thought on “The amazing field of Auricular acupuncture

  • Jean Perrin

    typo…==> rugs
    Also, auri­cu­lar acu­punc­ture increases the pain threshold in the body, and it can be being used as an altern­at­ive paink­iller to reduce the depend­ence on chem­ic­al rugs.