Ear acupuncture or auriculotherapy

Treating certain diseases by stimulating specific points in the ear
Last update on Feb, 18, 2022

Auriculotherapy: definition

Auriculotherapy is a practice rooted in traditional Chinese medicine and further developed in the fifties, thanks to studies by French neurologist, Paul Noiger. This technique is founded on the idea that the pinna is a microsystem that impacts all the other organs, which if stimulated using acupuncture needles or other,  could have a positive effect on the rest of the body

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Ear point theory

According to auriculotherapy, the pinna is divided into different areas, each area is connected to a specific anatomical structure of the body and its condition. The mapping of the outer ear could help solve problems including obesity, anxiety, minor depression, insomnia, cigarette smoking addiction, alcohol addiction and chronic pain.

How does auriculotherapy work?

Auriculotherapy is known as auricular acupuncture, precisely because it is based on the technique of acupuncture and focuses only on the ear. From a biological point of view, auriculotherapy stimulates the central nervous system to release the neurotransmitters responsible for the cellular healing processes, as well as the hormones which function as pain relievers. 

Benefits of ear acupuncture

Auriculotherapy is mainly used to treat painful conditions of various kinds. However, it is also an alternative medical technique for hearing loss and tinnitus.
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How does an auriculotherapy session work?

An auriculotherapy session often begins with a preliminary phase of anamnesis and an investigation of the reasons that prompted the patient to seek professional care. Auriculotherapy can be carried out using different techniques: through acupuncture (conventional or semi-permanent needles), through micro-electrical discharges, cryotherapy or laser. Acupuncture uses:

  • conventional needles, which are left in place from 30 minutes to an hour and then removed;
  • semi-permanent needles, which are left in place and will fall out on their own after a variable period of time. 

Cryotherapy consists of injecting liquid nitrogen on the point being treated, procuring a superficial cold microburn. Electrostimulation and cryotherapy have a more prolonged effect than acupuncture. Depending on the type of technique performed, a variable number of sessions are required before benefits are felt.

Are there any contraindications?

In general, auriculotherapy is a safe and low-risk practice. The rare side effects depend on the type of instrument used to stimulate the pinna: acupuncture is not recommended for those with injuries or abrasions at the level of the auricles (as they could lead to infections), while the other techniques are risky for pregnant women, pacemaker wearers and people suffering from epileptic seizures.

What are the risks of auriculotherapy?

Possible side effects of auriculotherapy include: 

  • Pain or discomfort in the pinna at the stimulated areas 
  • Sense of soreness 
  • Inflammation of the auricle 
  • Episodes of infection.

What is magnetic auriculotherapy?

Magnetic auriculotherapy is a type of auriculotherapy recommended for the ear, given the thin skin in this area. The stimulation of the area being treated is carried out using magnetic pellets, which adhere to the ear by means of a patch.

Auriculotherapy: scientifically valid?

It must be specified that currently no scientific or clinical study has demonstrated the actual effectiveness of auriculotherapy.

Auriculotherapy for losing weight?

Some research seems to suggest that by releasing endorphins in the body, auriculotherapy may reduce the accumulation of glucose and trigger weight loss. However, there is currently no scientific evidence.     

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