AURICULOTHERAPY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS...
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.
What is the History of Auriculotherapy?
The earliest written records of ear acupuncture date back to the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, a compilation of acupuncture procedures that were in practice in 500 BC. Within this extensive text that covers a variety of acupuncture treatments, there is mention of specific acupuncture points on the external ear for the relief of certain medical disorders. However, the manner in which auricular acupuncture is practiced today in China is actually based upon more recent discoveries that occurred in France in the 1950's. The Traditional Oriental Medicine practiced in ancient China included just a scattered array of acupoints on the auricle for just a few health problems, whereas the current practice of auricular acupuncture shows a more complete organization of ear reflex points that can be used to relieve many health problems. In the West, the earliest references to ear treatments were referred to in medical records from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The most complete descriptions of medical treatments through the ear were recorded in ancient Persia. A trail of evidence of the use of auricular stimulation for the treatment of sciatica back pain can be followed from these Persian records through medieval Europe to modern France. Since the 1950's, the use of specific ear points as a complete reflex system that can alleviate many health problems has been utilized by clinical practitioners in other parts of Europe, in Asia, and in North and South America.
Who discovered Auriculotherapy?
While the earliest uses of ear acupuncture points dates back to ancient China, modern applications of auriculotherapy are based on the work of Dr Paul Nogier of Lyon, France. In the 1950's, Dr. Nogier noticed a strange scar on the upper ear of some of his patients. He found that all of them had been treated for sciatica pain by a local lay practitioner. This woman had cauterized a specific area of the external ear in order to relieve their low back pain. Dr Nogier conducted a similar procedure on his own sciatica patients and found that their back pain was also reduced. He then tried other means of stimulating this "sciatica point," including the use of acupuncture needles, and found that they too were effective in alleviating sciatica pain. The brilliance of Dr Nogier was in extending this one observation into a more comprehensive model. Dr Nogier theorized that if an area of the upper external ear is effective in treating low back pain, maybe other parts of the ear could treat other parts of the body. The ear is said to represent the whole anatomical body, but in an upside down orientation. Nogier's theory contended that the auricle could be compared to an inverted fetus, with the head represented on the lower ear lobe, the feet at the top of the external ear, and the rest of the body in-between. This model was first presented to naturopathic practitioners in France in 1957, then spread to acupuncturists in Germany, and finally was translated into Chinese. The Chinese seemed to have adopted the inverted fetus model of ear acupuncture in 1958.
What are Auricular-Somatic Reflexes?
The basic concept in auriculotherapy is that nerves in the skin overlying specific areas of the external ear correspond to specific parts of the brain which has reflex connections to the body. Organo-Cutaneous Reflexes are activated when organic pathology in a specific part of the body induce reflex reactions in the external ear, manifested as localized changes in tenderness, altered blood circulation, and electrodermal reactivity. Cutaneo-Organic Reflexes are activated when specific points on the auricle are stimulated in order to relieve organic pathology in another part of the body.
What is Somatotopic Inversion?
The inverted fetus pattern that is represented on the auricle is referred to as somatotopic inversion. The word "soma" means "body" and the word "topic" refers to a topographic "map." The auricle is a map of the body in an inverted or upside down pattern.
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.
How are other conditions relieved by auriculotherapy?
By facilitating a balancing of energy throughout the body macrosystems or by correcting pathological reflex centers in the brain, stimulation of the auricular acupuncture microsystem can lead to a homeostatic state whereby any form of stress or pain is lessened. Stimulation of the specific ear reflex points that correspond to a particular area of the body leads to either a reduction of excess stimulation or an enhancement of diminished under activity of the affected region. The overall effect of auriculotherapy is to create a more balanced condition throughout the body.
How difficult is it to learn auriculotherapy treatment procedures?
Because of the simplicity of learning the inverted fetus somatotopic pattern on the ear, basic mastery of auriculotherapy skills can be achieved in just a few training sessions. The Auriculotherapy Manual by Dr Terry Oleson provides a detailed description of over 250 ear reflex points and presents specific treatment plans for over 200 health conditions in a manner that is both comprehensive yet easy to understand.
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.
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
What are the side effects that occur from auriculotherapy?
Because tenderness of ear points is one of the primary diagnostic features of auriculotherapy, soreness on the ear points stimulated can sometimes continue for up to an hour after the treatment.
Sourced from www.auriculotherapy.com
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© Dr Nick Hodgson 2011
2005 Victorian Chiropractor of The Year, Australasian TRT Training Provider, Fellow Holder Research Institute.
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