More popularly known as ear acupuncture, auriculotherapy uses the principles underlying acupuncture to certain points on the ear. According to auriculotherapists, the self healing functions of the body can be stimulated by the needling of specific points on the ear, as the ear holds lots of nerve endings and tiny capillaries that, when stimulated, impacts the functions of the body and organs.
Acupuncture originated in ancient China and is one of the world’s most ancient therapies. Ancient texts of Chinese medicine tell of specific massage procedures and acupuncture points for the ear. During ancient times, gold or silver earrings were sometimes recommended for eye problems to furnish continuous therapeutic stimulation at acupoints on the auricle or outer ear, a healing tradition that is still administered in some parts of the globe, including some regions in Europe. Both ancient Greeks and Egyptians prescribe to the belief that applying certain treatment to the ears could affect health. The father of medicine, Hippocrates, spoke of a point on the ear that could be surgically manipulated as a form of birth control measure. In the Middle Ages, European physicians recommended surgery on a specific part on the ear for an ailment known as sciatica that generates nerve pain in the thighs and hips.
In 1957, a French doctor named Paul Nogier published his work, Treatise of Auriculotherapy. In his work, he laid out a complex map of acupuncture points on the ear that conform to the processes and organs in the body. According to Dr. Nogier, the ear has a shape like that of an inverted human fetus, and the ear acupoints conform to the parts of the body of the shape of the fetus with the head represented by the earlobe. Nogier believed that when these ear acupoints are stimulated, the bodily processes and organs associated with them would be stimulated by neural pulses. By quantifying the pulses of electricity on the skin of the ear, Nogier believed that conditions can be uncovered in the internal organs, which means that auriculotherapy can be utilized to diagnose health conditions. Nogier and his supporters, including ear acupuncturists in China and America, performed clinical studies in auriculotherapy, and revealed certain surprising and major outcomes in both diagnosis and treatment of conditions.
The Benefits of Auriculotherapy
Auriculotherapy is a non-invasive, low-priced, and quick form of pain management and relief. During medical procedures, this practice is sometimes also used as anesthesia. It can help people overcome alcohol, tobacco, and drug addictions, and it works in the treatment of chronic diseases and health conditions.
The Treatment Process
Auriculotherapists first interview and then examine the patient before proceeding to the treatment itself. During the treatment, the therapist will examine the ears of the patient thoroughly. Then the therapist will use his hands to feel or palpate the patient’s ears to see if they have painful spots or irregularities. The therapist may look for areas that are numb or insensitive through the use of hot or cold needles on the ear. He may also avail of electrical instruments that measure skin resistance at ear acupoints.
During auriculotherapy, various other forms of treatment may be also used. The needles used are usually very thin. The treatment usually requires the use of more than one needle and it can be slightly inserted or inserted deeply along the folds of the ear. On certain acupoints, the therapist/practitioner may slant or twist the needles to increase the healing effects of the treatment. The needles are left in the patient’s ears for a few minutes to around 40 minutes or more.
There are auriculotherapists who may use permanent press needles. These needles are shaped like a tack and are small. They are sometimes taped to the ear where they will remain for a number of days to a few weeks. Those permanent press needles are used for problems such as longstanding (chronic infections and addictions.
Electroacupuncture is one type of acupuncture that is also used by auriculotherapists occasionally. Electroacupuncture involves the use of electrical gadgets that generate and transmit mild electrical pulses through the body or in the ear. It has been shown to work for various types of conditions including chronic pain, alcohol and drug addiction, and nerve damage or paralysis in the body. Some auriculotherapists also use a bleeding type of procedure in which one to two drops of blood are removed from specific acupoints on the ear. This technique is used for heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other types of health problems.
Like all forms of acupuncture, auriculotherapy, should never be administered on exhausted or weak individuals and neither on people who have just drunk alcohol or eaten a meal or are very hungry. This treatment should not be performed on pregnant women during the first six months of their pregnancy. After six months, these women can be allowed to undergo the treatment but only on very specific acupoints on the ear to alleviate and control pain. Children below seven years of age should not be given this treatment and extreme care should be taken when performing this procedure on elderly patients. Ear acupuncture is also contraindicated for people with anemia (low red blood cell count). Before treatment, patients with nervous problems need to be calmed down and relaxed. Acupressure and ear massage may be a better form of treatment for people who find acupuncture scary or painful.
There are some side effects in acupuncture treatment. One common side effect is the discomforting feeling people experience during or after treatment. Other side effects of acupuncture that may be experienced post treatment include sharp pains on some parts of the body, profuse sweating, headaches, numbness, nausea, dizziness, and fainting. These responses can be the result of acupuncture needles being inserted into the wrong area or inserted too deeply or it can be due to anxiety. Taking out the needles and/or telling the patient to lie down can help allay these side effects. Other side effects that may be felt during treatment include a faster pulse and hot flashes. Some of the symptoms may increase but this is only very temporary and they typically vanish rapidly.
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