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Auriculotherapy is a form of acupuncture that involves reflex points on the outer ear. According to practitioners, these reflex points are activated when there is disease in the body. Diagnosis of disease can be done by detecting which reflex points are active, and stimulation of these active points can then reverse symptoms of disease. Auriculotherapy is an alternative form of therapy that is meant to restore health and balance to the body.
There are many nerve connections on the outer ear. Unlike traditional meridians treated with acupuncture, these nerve connections mean that a stimulus only needs to travel a short distance to the brain. From the brain, the stimulus travels to the diseased part of the body.
Originally described in 1957 by Dr. Paul Nogier, the map of the reflex points on the outer ear resembles an inverted fetus. Reflex points that would affect the head of the body are located in the earlobe, while those for the lower limbs are in the top of the ear. Internal organs are treated by stimulating reflex points close to the ear canal. The outer ear contains many nerve endings, including four cranial nerves that allow connections to the brain and then the rest of the body.
Auriculotherapy is a non-invasive method in which a handheld electrical device is used to measure activity in the reflex points. The same device can then be used to stimulate these points. Acupuncture needles inserted in the ear can also be used to stimulate specific reflex points. The use of needles is usually referred to as ear acupuncture rather than auriculotherapy.
Patients suffering from chronic pain may benefit from auriculotherapy. Those who wish to end their dependence on substances such as nicotine, drugs, or alcohol may also benefit from this procedure. Auriculotherapy has also been used to provide relief for patients suffering from symptoms of withdrawal.
Stimulation of the reflex points induces the production of proteins known as endorphins, which relieve stress and anxiety. Symptoms of depression may be treated with auriculotherapy. As the patient begins to feel better emotionally, cravings for food, alcohol, and drugs may be greatly reduced.
The procedure is done in the office of the health care practitioner, and it can be done in less than an hour. The practitioner will first examine the ear and determine which reflex points are active and need stimulation. Patients may need a few weekly treatments at the outset followed by periodic visits to get the full benefit of auriculotherapy.