Archive for August, 2010


Thursday, August 5th, 2010

The key question when contemplating the clinical usefulness of Auriculotherapy is does it change internal physiology and chemistry? The model of Auriculotherapy is of a microsystem – that reflex points on the ear correspond with anatomical or functional parts of the body, and that stimulating particular points will result in predictable internal changes. Below is a summary based on a PubMed search using only the term Auriculotherapy and including only studies from 2009 and 2010. You can read the abstracts for yourself but let’s first summarise the physiological changes documented:

  • Reduction in enuresis quickly and long term – stimulating ear points changing what is manifesting all the way down in the bladder: Suspected causes of enuresis are ADH imbalances and neurological dysfunction.
  • Rapid relief of lumbar disc herniation pain – Analgesia is primarily seen to result from central nervous system inhibition of pain transmission or via interfering with the prostaglandin pathways so.
  • Improvement in learning and memory and brain chemistry in rats suffering with Alzheimer’s – This paper proposes that the Auriculotherapy tapped into neurotransmitter function and/or nerve cell proliferation.
  • Reduction of Tinnitus short and long term – Tinnitus can have multifactorial causes all being centred in the inner ear structures.
  • Reduction of endometriosis related PMS symptoms and improvement in Prostaglandin and Prostacyclin levels – Prostaglandin and Prostacyclin imbalance is seen as one of the most likely factors in endometriosis and PMS.
  • Reduction of lower back and pelvic pain of pregnancy and improved functional status – Lower back pain is sometimes seen as a mechanical problem, sometimes as an inflammatory condition, and other times as a neurological disorder – depends on who you are talking to… However in the case of Auriculotherapy we can narrow down the influences to inflammatory or neurological since it has no mechanical effect.
  • Significant increase in ghrelin level and decrease in leptin level in obese women – Ghrelin and Leptin are seen as obesity-related hormone peptides.
  • Improvement of Traditional Chinese Medicine syndrome, elevation of breast feeding milking volume, decrease of the supplementary feeding and increase of Prolactin level in nursing mothers with insufficient milk supply after cesarian birth.
  • Reduction of Substance P levels and rapid recovery from Migraine – Substance P is a neuropeptide implicated in the onset of Migraines.
  • Reduction of vasomotor symptoms associated with luteinizing-hormone releasing hormone agonist treatment for prostate cancer – Auriculotherapy being used effectively to reduce the side effects of hormonal treatment for Prostate Cancer.

So we can see that there is growing evidence that Auriculotherapy has the capacity to normalise chemical, hormonal, neuropeptide, neurological, vascular and pain processes. Sounds like some good reasons to check out Auriculotherapy training to me… Go to to find out more…

1) Transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation (TEAS) combined with auricular acupoint sticking (AAS) for treatment of primary nocturnal enuresis (PNE)

Chen YJ, Zhou GY, Jin JH. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2010 May;30(5):371-4.

METHODS: 250 cases of PNE patients were randomly divided into an observation group and a control group, 125 cases in each group. The control group was treated with oral administration of Desmopressin Acetate (DA) and Meclofenoxate. RESULTS: The total effective rate of 96.8% (121/125) in observation group was superior to that of 90.4% (113/125) in control group (P < 0.05), the observation group was superior to control group in reducing the times of nocturia and enuresis, onset time and duration of effect (all P < 0.05). CONCLUSION: TEAS combined with AAS can reduce the times of nocturia and enuresis of PNE children, with significant therapeutic effect, taking quick effect and keeping long effect duration.

2) Study on the effects of the auricular acupuncture with different manipulations for rapid analgesia on the patients with lumbar disc hernia

Liu EJ, Jia CS, Li XF, Ma XS, Shi J. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2010 Jan;30(1):35-9.

METHODS: Ninety two patients were paired according to the three factors as sex, age and degree of pain, and then randomly divided into the point-to-point needling group and perpendicular needling group. All patients accorded with the demands of McGill pain questionnaire (MPQ), before treatment, 5 and 30 min after treatment, the accumulated score of pain was recorded respectively for observing the difference of the effects in both groups. RESULTS: After 5 min treatment, the effect of analgesia on the male patients in the point-to-point needling group was better than that of in the perpendicular needling group (P<0.05), but there was no difference on the female patients in both groups (P>0.05). After 30 min treatment, the effect of analgesia in the point-to-point needling group was better than that of the perpendicular needling group (P<0.05). Besides the patients with light degree pain, there was no significant difference between the two groups after 5 min treatment as score of pain (P>0.05), paired t-test showed that the effects of analgesia on the patients with lumbar disc hernia in the point-to-point needling group was better than that of perpendicular needling group (P<0.05). CONCLUSION: The point-to-point needling method can rapidly relieve patients’ lumbar disc hernia of pain, which is better than the perpendicular needling method.

3) Effects of auricular acupuncture on the memory and the expression of ChAT and GFAP in model rats with Alzheimer’s disease

Miao T, Jiang TS, Dong YH, Jiang NC. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2009 Oct;29(10):827-32.

OBJECTIVE: To observe the effects of auricular acupuncture on the learning and memory abilities of model rats with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and investigate its mechanism. METHODS: Thirty SD rats were randomly divided into a control group, a model group and an auricular acupuncture group, 10 rats in each group. The learning and memory capabilities of the rats were assessed with Morris Water Maze behavioral test, and the expressions of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) were examined by immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: Comparing with the model group, the treated AD rats with auricular acupuncture was showed that the average escape latency was obviously shortened in the place navigation test (P<0.01), the movement time in plateform quadrant was obviously prolonged in the spatial probe test (P<0.05), and the number of traversing platform obviously increased (P<0.01) after the platform was taken away. The expression of ChAT increased in the hippocampus and cortex (P<0.01, P<0.05), but the expression of GFAP obviously decreased in the CA1 region of hippocampus (P<0.01). CONCLUSION: Auricular acupuncture can improve the learning and memory capability of the model rats with AD. Its mechanism might be related with decreasing cholinergic neuron damage and reducing the abnormal activation and hyperplasia of astrocyte.

4) The effect of a new treatment based on somatosensory stimulation in a group of patients with somatically related tinnitus.

Latifpour DH, Grenner J, Sjödahl C. Int Tinnitus J. 2009;15(1):94-9.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of a new treatment consisting of stretching, posture training, and auricular acupuncture immediately and at a 3-month follow-up. This method has not been tested previously. From an original pool of 41 potential subjects, we recruited 24 (12 men, 12 women; ages 18-70 years) into this study and divided them from a waiting list into either a treatment group or a control group. We measured mobility of neck and posture; measured severity of tinnitus by the Klockhoff test and the visual analog scale (VAS); and measured grade of anxiety and depression with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. We also used the Mann-Whitney U-test to determine statistical significance. The statistical analysis demonstrated a significant decrease of tinnitus in the treatment group as compared with the control group, according to the VAS before and after treatment (p < .001) and at follow-up after 3 months (p < .01). We also observed a significant decrease of tinnitus according to the Klockhoff test before and after treatment (p < .001) and at follow-up after 3 months (p < .01). Our study indicates that this method, based on somatosensory stimulation, may be a useful and alternative treatment of somatic tinnitus.

5) Randomized controlled study on ear-electroacupuncture treatment of endometriosis-induced dysmenorrhea in patients

Jin YB, Sun ZL, Jin HF. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2009 Jun;34(3):188-92.

METHODS: A total of 80 endometriosis patients were randomly and equally divided into ear-EA group and body-EA group. Dysmenorrhea severity score (DSS) was assessed and plasma prostaglandin (PGE2) and 6-Keto-PGF1alpha levels detected by radioimmunoassay. RESULTS: Compared with pre-treatment, DSS lowered significantly during the 1st and 2nd menstrual cycle in body-EA group, and during the 1st, 2nd and 3rd menstruation in ear-EA group; and the DSS of ear-EA group during the 3rd menstruation was evidently lower than that of body-EA group (P < 0.05). During the 3rd menstrual onset after the treatment, plasma PGE2 contents in both groups decreased obviously (P < 0.01), and plasma 6-Keto-PGF1alpha, levels increased considerably in comparison with pre-treatment (P < 0.01). Comparison between two groups during the 3rd menstruation showed that plasma PGE2 level of ear-EA group was markedly lower than that of body-EA group, and 6-Keto-PGF1alpha, level of ear-EA group was significantly higher than that of body-EA group (P < 0.05). No significant difference was found between two groups in clinical therapeutic effect (P > 0.05). CONCLUSION: Both ear-EA and body-EA can effectively relieve endometriosis-induced dysmenorrhea, and the former is superior to the later in reducing pain severity, which may be closely related to their effects in reducing plasma PGE2 and raising 6-Keto-PGF1alpha level.

6) Auricular acupuncture as a treatment for pregnant women who have low back and posterior pelvic pain: a pilot study.

Wang SM, Dezinno P, Lin EC, Lin H, Yue JJ, Berman MR, Braveman F, Kain ZN. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Sep;201(3):271.e1-9. Epub 2009 Jun 26.

OBJECTIVE: The primary aim of this study was to examine whether 1 week of continuous auricular acupuncture could reduce low back and posterior pelvic pain associated with pregnancy. STUDY DESIGN: A randomized controlled trial was conducted on pregnant women who have lower back and posterior pelvic pain. These women were randomly assigned into an acupuncture group, a sham acupuncture group, or a waiting list control group. All participants were monitored for 2 weeks. RESULTS: Baseline and day 7 showed significant group differences in pain (F = 15; P < .0001) and in the disability rating index score (F = 7; P < .0001). The participants in the acupuncture group reported a significant reduction of pain and improvement of functional status as compared with those in the sham acupuncture and control groups. CONCLUSION: One week of continuous auricular acupuncture decreases the pain and disability experienced by women with pregnancy-related low back and posterior pelvic pain.

7) The effect of auricular acupuncture in obese women: a randomized controlled trial.

Hsu CH, Wang CJ, Hwang KC, Lee TY, Chou P, Chang HH. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2009 Jun;18(6):813-8.

BACKGROUND: The aims of this randomized study are to examine the effect of auricular acupuncture on obese women and to explore the relationship between the effect of auricular acupuncture and obesity-related hormone peptides. METHODS: Forty-five of 60 obese women aged between 16 and 65 years with body mass index (BMI) >27 kg/m2 and who had not received any other weight control maneuvers within the last 3 months completed this study. The subjects were blinded and randomly divided into groups A and B. Group A (n = 23) received auricular acupuncture, and group B (n = 22) received sham auricular acupuncture using placebo needles, twice each week for 6 weeks. The subjects’ body weight (BW), BMI, waist circumference (WC), and obesity-related hormone peptides were measured at the beginning of the study and after 6 weeks of treatment. The data were compared and expressed as percent reductions. RESULTS: This study found no statistical difference in percent reduction in BW, BMI, and WC between the group receiving 6 weeks of auricular acupuncture treatment and the control group. After treatment, group A revealed a significant increase in ghrelin level and decrease in leptin level. On the other hand, group B, who received sham auricular acupuncture, showed no significant difference in ghrelin and leptin levels. CONCLUSIONS: This study found no statistical difference in percent reduction in BW, BMI, and WC between the two groups. No adverse effects of short-term auricular acupuncture treatment were seen in the study. Auricular acupuncture may have potential benefit on obesity-related hormone peptides.

8) Clinical observation on the treatment of post-cesarean hypogalactia by auricular points sticking-pressing.

Zhou HY, Li L, Li D, Li X, Meng HJ, Gao XM, Jiang HJ, Cao LR, Zhu YL. Chin J Integr Med. 2009 Apr;15(2):117-20.

METHODS: A randomized, controlled, single-blinded clinical trial on 116 patients with PCH was carried out. They were equally assigned to the treatment group and the control group. The treatment group received APSP, with the pellets pressed for 4 times daily, while the control group was only asked to do lactation to meet infant demand. The therapeutic efficacy and the changes in scores of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) syndrome, volume of milk secretion, supplementary feeding and serum level of prolactin (PRL) in the two groups were estimated and compared after the patients had been treated for 5 days. RESULTS: The cured and markedly effective rate in the treatment group was 89.7%, which was significantly higher than that in the control group (27.6%, P<0.05), 95% CI (0.1543, 0.2527). The improvement of TCM syndrome, elevation of milking volume, decrease of the supplementary feeding and increase of PRL level revealed in the treatment group were all superior to those in the control group, showing statistical significance (P<0.01). CONCLUSION: APSP shows an apparent efficacy in treating PCH and is worthy of application in clinical practice.

9) Effect of ear point combined therapy on plasma substance P in patients of no-aura migraine at different stages

Yang DH. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2009 Mar;29(3):189-91.

METHODS: Thirty cases of no-aura migraine at different stages were treated with ear point combined therapy, including blood-letting at the ear back, injection of auto-blood into Fengchi (GB 20), Yanglingquan (GB 34), and pricking at ear points Nie (AT2), Yidan (CO11), Shenmen (TF4), etc. Their clinical therapeutic effects were evaluated at the end of one therapeutic course, and substance P (SP) contents were detected before and after treatment. RESULTS: The clinical effective rate was 86.7%, and the effective rate was 87.5% at the attack stage and 86.4% at the remission stage with no significant difference between the attack stage and the remission stage (P>0.05); after treatment, SP content had significant change as compared with that before treatment (P<0.05, P<0.01), and there was very significant difference in SP content between the attack stage before treatment and the remission stage (P<0.01). CONCLUSION: The ear point combined therapy can relieve pain possibly through decreasing plasma SP content, and the SP content possibly is one of main factors inducing migraine attack.

10) Auricular acupuncture: a novel treatment for vasomotor symptoms associated with luteinizing-hormone releasing hormone agonist treatment for prostate cancer.

Harding C, Harris A, Chadwick D. BJU Int. 2009 Jan;103(2):186-90. Epub 2008 Aug 14.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the role of auricular acupuncture (AA) in men receiving luteinizing-hormone releasing hormone (LHRH) analogues for carcinoma of the prostate, as vasomotor symptoms can affect the quality of life in such men, and similar symptoms in postmenopausal women have been successfully treated with AA. PATIENTS AND METHODS: In all, 60 consecutive patients with prostate cancer and on LHRH agonist treatment (median age 74 years, range 58-83) consented to weekly AA for 10 weeks. The validated ‘Measure Yourself Concerns and Well-Being’ questionnaire (a six-point scale to assess symptom severity) was used to assess concerns and well-being before and after treatment. RESULTS: All men completed the treatment with no adverse events recorded, apart from transient exacerbation of symptoms in two men; 95% of patients reported a decrease in the severity of symptoms, from a mean 5.0 to 2.1 (Student’s t-test, P < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: The symptomatic improvement was at levels comparable with that from pharmacotherapy, and cost analysis showed AA to be a viable alternative. Larger randomized studies are needed to fully evaluate AA against more conventional treatments, and these are planned.

Go to to find out more about Auriculotherapy training…

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