Auriculotherapy, or auricular therapy, or ear acupuncture, or auriculoacupuncture is a form of alternative medicine based on the idea that the ear is a microsystem which reflects the entire body, represented on the auricle, the outer portion of the ear. Conditions affecting the physical, mental or emotional health of the patient are assumed to be treatable by stimulation of the surface of the ear exclusively. Similar mappings are used in many areas of the body, including the practices of reflexology and iridology. These mappings were not originally based on or supported by any medical or scientific evidence.
Auriculotherapy was first developed by the French neurologist Paul Nogier, publishing his results in 1957 with his Treatise of Auriculotherapy. These developments were made using clinical trials based in a phrenological method of projection of a fetal Homunculus on the ear for reference of complaints and points for treatment. Nogier soon brought his discovery to the public, where members of the Chinese Army picked up the map and brought it back to the barefoot doctors. The ear map in China then was developed according to the theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine, however, Nogier is still known in China as the "Father of Auriculotherapy".
Nogier went on to publish what he called the Vascular Autonomic Signal, a distinct change in the amplitude of the pulse, easily felt with the tip of the thumb at the radial artery. This mechanism, Nogier said, would only produce a signal upon the introduction of new information to the patient's electromagnetic field. He was now working with the principle of matching resonance. He then said that he could use this signal to detect which points on the ear microsystem were active.
Mapping the ear
The Chinese ear map, developed from the original discoveries of Nogier, is a map of points. Some of these points differ from Nogier's original map.
The developments made in Germany primarily by Frank Bahr and Beate Stritmatter have found the points on the ear to be consistently in the same location, regardless of the level of chronicity. German Auricular Medicine has developed into a system using frequencies to assess and treat conditions specifically. This form of the medicine has integrated the Chinese meridian system and has mapped each one on the ear. The use of low level laser has been recently more widely used in the German form. Until 2002, the training in this form of the medicine was exclusively available to M.D.'s in Germany. Muriel Agnes of Vital Principle Institute in Nova Scotia brought Stritmatter to Canada in 2002 to train English-speaking massage therapists, homeopaths, and acupuncturists.
There are two schools of thought about how auriculotherapy and similar therapies would help to control pain. The first theory, from Maiken Nedergaard, is that tissue treated with needles released an elevated level of adenosine, a natural compound that the body uses as a local pain reliever. The other theory, advanced by Niemtzow, suggests that the needles stimulate nerves, causing an increase in endorphins, blocking pain receptors in the brain, which in turn reduces the overall pain felt.[unreliable medical source?]
- Barrett, M.D., Stephen. "Auriculotherapy: A Skeptical Look". Acupuncture Watch. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- "Acupuncture". The Skeptic's Dictionary. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- Gorski, David. "Battlefield acupuncture revisited: That’s it? That‘s all Col. Niemtzow’s got?". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- Nogier, Paul (1972). Treatise of Auriculotherapy. Maisonneuve.
- Gori, Luigi; Firenzuoli, Fabio (Sep 2007). "Ear Acupuncture in European Traditional Medicine". Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 4 (Suppl 1): 13–16. doi:10.1093/ecam/nem106. PMC 2206232.
- "Chinese Auriculotherapy Chart" (PDF). Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- "German Auricular Medicine". Vital Principle Institute. Retrieved 17April 2015. Check date values in:
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- [unreliable medical source?]
- Niemtzow, Richard; Oleson, Terry (April 2004). "Development of Auriculotherapy Around the World". Medical Acupuncture 26 (2): 74–75. doi:10.1089/acu.2014.2622.