- What is Auriculotherapy?
- Auriculotherapy is the stimulation of the auricle of the external ear for the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions in other parts of the body. It is also known as ear acupuncture or auricular acupuncture when the stimulation is achieved by the insertion of acupuncture needles, whereas the term auriculotherapy often refers to electrical stimulation of the surface of ear reflex points. Specific points on the ear can also be stimulated by manual pressure, referred to as auricular acupressure or ear reflexology. Acupuncture points on the ear can also be stimulated with lasers, magnets, and ear pellets.
- How is Auriculotherapy different from Acupuncture?
- Auriculotherapy is typically considered one form of acupuncture, but there are both differences and similarities between the two procedures. Acupuncture is a form of medical treatment involving the stimulation of acupuncture points located on energy channels extending over the surface of the body, which are known as meridians. From the philosophy of Taoism, there are six Yang meridians and six Yin meridians. In classical acupuncture, it is the Yang meridians that directly connect to the external ear. These energy lines of force are blocked or congested when there is some pathology in a specific area of the body. Insertion of acupuncture needles into specific acupoints can relieve the symptoms and underlying pathology of a particular health problem. Some of the meridian energy lines of force connect to the external ear, thus creating the field of auricular acupuncture. Different perspectives of auriculotherapy focus not on the acupuncture meridians but on the use of the ear as a localized reflex system connected to the central nervous system.
- What health conditions are most helped by auriculotherapy?
- Because every part of the external ear connects through the microsystem remote reflexes to every part of the body, a wide variety of health problems are relieved by auriculotherapy. Almost all health conditions can be affected to some degree by stimulating reactive ear points. The most commonly reported uses of auriculotherapy have been for the control of chronic pain, detoxification from addictive drugs, relief of nausea, and reduction of hypertension.
- How does auriculotherapy affect pain conditions?
- Most chronic pain is due to myofascial pain, related to the constriction of the connective tissue surrounding muscles in spasm. Muscles do not remain in spasm unless there are motor neurons causing them to contract. Maintenance of pathological muscles spasms is due to pathological brain reflex patterns that keep spinal reflex re-initiating the activation of the motor neurons that cause muscles to sustain their contraction. By stimulating ear reflex points that connect to the somatotopic reflex system in the brain, the pathological brain patterns can be electrically reset stop the unwanted activation of spinal reflexes. Pain sensations that are due to irritated nerves can be relieved by the normalizing of pathological, hypersensitive reflex pathways that interconnect the ear microsystem and the somatotopic brain. In addition to these neurological explanations, it is also theorized that pain relief from auriculotherapy is achieved by the hormonal release of endorphins into the blood. From a Traditional Oriental Medicine perspective, pain is due to the blockage of Qi (pronounced chee) energy in the acupuncture meridian channels, thus creating an imbalance in the macro-acupuncture system. By stimulating specific ear points in the auricular microsystem, bi-directional connections are activated in the body macrosystem which lead to a balancing of energy and an increase flow of Qi.
- How long do the benefits of auriculotherapy last?
- The range of responses to an auriculotherapy session are quite varied, but it is common that a patient suffering from severe pain will notice mild to marked reduction of their complaint on the very first session. This reduction in their pain experience can actually improve for the next several hours after treatment, but the benefits often begin to subside several days after the first treatment. With each successive treatment, the degree of pain relief usually becomes more and more prominent and the duration of pain relief progressively extends from several days to several weeks. With smoking cessation and drug detoxification, the benefits of auriculotherapy can last several weeks after just one or two auricular treatments.
- How many treatment sessions are needed to help patients?
- There is no set number of treatments for any health condition treated by auriculotherapy, but it is common that the severity of most conditions are moderately reduced by four to six sessions and greatly alleviated by eight to twelve sessions.
- How many times per week are treatments provided?
- The number of treatment sessions per week depends upon the schedule of the patients, as well as the severity of their health condition. When possible, severe conditions can be treated on a daily basis, but many patients are not available to come in that often. Typically, patients are given two treatments per week for two to three weeks, then once a week for several more weeks. The frequency of sessions progressively decreases to once a month as the medical disorder becomes less pronounced.
- How long is a typical treatment session?
- While the first auriculotherapy session requires greater time for an intake evaluation and patient history, a typical auriculotherapy treatment lasts 15 to 30 minutes. With auricular acupuncture, four to six acupuncture needles are inserted and left in place for approximately 20 minutes. In transcutaneous auricular electrical stimulation, each ear reflex point is first detected then stimulated for 10 to 30 seconds, requiring a total of 20 minutes for successively treating six to twelve points on each ear.
Interested in learning more about ariculotherapy and how it can work for you? Please call our office at (304) 263-4927 for more information or to schedule an appointment.