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Acupuncture points in the ear.
Alternative therapy
Benefits Placebo

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.[1][2][3]


Auriculotherapy was conjectured by the French neurologist Paul Nogier, who published his results in 1957 with his Treatise of Auriculotherapy.[4] These developments were made by 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.

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[edit]

The Chinese ear map,[5] 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.[6]


Alternative medicine practitioners sometimes recommend auriculotherapy for treating insomnia, but there is no evidence it works. On the other hand no reports of harmful effects are known.[7]


  1. ^ Barrett, M.D., Stephen. "Auriculotherapy: A Skeptical Look". Acupuncture Watch. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "Acupuncture". The Skeptic's Dictionary. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Gorski, David. "Battlefield acupuncture revisited: That's it? That's all Col. Niemtzow's got?". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Nogier, Paul (1972). Treatise of Auriculotherapy. Maisonneuve. 
  5. ^ "Chinese Auriculotherapy Chart" (PDF). Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "German Auricular Medicine". Vital Principle Institute. Retrieved 17 April 2015. [non-primary source needed]
  7. ^ Lee MS, Shin BC, Suen LK, Park TY, Ernst E (2008). "Auricular acupuncture for insomnia: a systematic review". Int. J. Clin. Pract. (Systematic review). 62 (11): 1744–52. doi:10.1111/j.1742-1241.2008.01876.x. PMID 18754807.