Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical system that dates back nearly 3,000 years. Auricular acupuncture was first mentioned around 500 B.C. in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, which is the equivalent of the Bible for TCM practitioners. However, the method in which auricular acupuncture is practiced today is actually based upon discoveries that occurred in France in the 1950’s. Modern auricular acupuncture comes from the work done by Dr. Paul Nogier.
Auricular acupuncture is the stimulation of the external ear for the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions. These health conditions may be anywhere in the body. The acupuncture points can be simulated manually, with an acupuncture needle, with a laser, magnets or ear seeds. Regardless of the means of stimulation, auricular acupuncture can be a very powerful addition to regular acupuncture treatments.
The current form of auricular acupuncture came about after Dr. Paul Nogier noticed a scar on the upper ear of some of his patients. When he inquired about the scar, he found out a local practitioner had been treating his patients for sciatica pain and she was cauterizing this specific area on the external ear to relieve their low back pain. Dr. Nogier conducted similar tests on his own patients and found their low back pain was also relieved. He tried using other means of stimulation as well, such as acupuncture needles and found it to be just as effective as cauterizing the area.
Dr. Nogier theorized that if an area of the upper external ear is effective on treating low back pain, then perhaps other areas of the ear could treat other parts of the body. His hypothesis led to the model used today for teaching auricular acupuncture. The ear is thought to represent the whole anatomical body. However, it is upside down in orientation, so the head is represented by the lower ear lobe, the feet are at the top of the ear and the rest of the body is in between. The Chinese adopted Dr. Nogier’s model of auricular acupuncture in 1958.
Auricular acupuncture is considered a microsystem, meaning one part of the body, the ear in this case, is a microcosm of the whole body. Microsystems also appear on foot and hand reflexology, facial acupuncture and scalp acupuncture.
This system has been practiced in Asia, albeit in a different form, for over 2,000 years. Auricular acupuncture has been used in Europe for the past 40 to 50 years, and it is finally starting to take root in the United States. Over the past five to 10 years, the U.S. military has started using auricular acupuncture for its personnel in the battlefield. This form of battlefield acupuncture is used to help soldiers deal with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) brought on by being in combat. Since auricular acupuncture allows for every part of the external ear to connect through the microsystem to every part of the body, many conditions can be treated using only a few very tiny needles. Not only can PTSD be treated using auricular acupuncture, but also things like chronic pain, drug addiction, high blood pressure and nausea. And for those who are a little needle-shy, auricular acupuncture is a great way to treat them, because it uses smaller-gauge needles, so small in fact, they’re barely visible. Auricular acupuncture can be used alone or in conjunction with other forms of acupuncture.