What is Ear Acupuncture?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ear acupuncture is a form of alternative medical treatment in which points on the ear which are believed to correspond with areas of the body are stimulated, with the goal of balancing the body's flow of energy to resolve medical problems. Using points on the ears has been a part of traditional Chinese acupuncture for centuries, but the modern practice of ear acupuncture developed in France in the 1950s, with a physician who started focusing on just providing stimulation to the ear. Many Chinese practitioners picked up the French research and mapped the ear to find the points which corresponded with various areas of the body.

Some people find that the local Chinatown is a good place to look for someone who practices acupuncture.
Some people find that the local Chinatown is a good place to look for someone who practices acupuncture.

According to practitioners, the ear marks a point in the body where all of the body's lines of energy meet up. The surface of the external ear is covered in a series of points which correspond to various areas of the body, and these points can be stimulated to resolve pain and other issues. Western practitioners have theorized that ear acupuncture may released chemicals to targeted areas of the body to achieve results, while traditional practitioners believe that they are manipulating the flow of energy in the body.

Some practitioners recommend ear acupuncture to help a smoker kick the habit.
Some practitioners recommend ear acupuncture to help a smoker kick the habit.

Classically, ear acupuncture is done with a very fine needle which is inserted into a point of interest and then stimulated, either by hand or with electricity. Ear acupuncture can also be done with magnets, lasers, and simple pressure on the points. The practitioner may determine that a simple office session is not enough, and insert seeds or tacks, as they are known, to provide constant stimulation for several days. Seeds are literally seeds which are taped to the ear to stimulate acupuncture points, and tacks are small needles which are designed to be left in the ear.

Ear acupuncture can be used to treat physical problems along with emotional issues such as stress. Some practitioners recommend it for weight loss, smoking cessation, and substance addiction programs, along with programs designed to help patients manage chronic pain, emotional disturbances, and a variety of other issues. In addition to being used independently to treat a patient, ear acupuncture may also be utilized as an adjunct treatment, as part of a complete therapy program.

Several acupuncture schools offer training in ear acupuncture, and it's also possible to take standalone coursework in this subject. An acupuncture clinic may have ear treatment on the list of services it offers, or be able to provide referrals, and people can also get treatment from some doctors, psychologists, and other medical practitioners who have chosen to integrate acupuncture into their practices.

An acupuncture point is not necessarily located on or near the structure it is meant to affect.
An acupuncture point is not necessarily located on or near the structure it is meant to affect.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

dega2010

@momothree: The whole concept of Qi (pronounced “chee”) is based on the ancient Chinese understanding of natural phenomena. Qi is the most basic substance of which the world is comprised. For those who believe in Qi, it is said that everything in the universe results from the changes and movements of Qi.

Now, generally speaking, Qi serves several functions within the body. When our body has an imbalance, it is seen as a disruption of Qi.

momothree

@dega2010: What exactly is Qi? I've never heard of it.

dega2010

One of the main ideas behind acupuncture is that we have a life energy that flows through our body called Qi. Sometimes, this energy is blocked due to poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, or trauma. This can cause different conditions or ailments such as pain or infertility. By releasing Qi, some believe that the positive energy pushes out the negative energy.

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