Home > Health Articles > What the Heck is Auricular Acupuncture?
Photo Credit: On pins and needles: Navy doctor branches out with deployment medicine [Image 12 of 12], by SGT Paul Peterson, Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, 12.13.2013

Auricular acupuncture is a form of acupuncture that stimulates the external ear to treat a variety of physiological and psychological health problems.This stimulation can occur through the use of needles, massage, laser treatment, or electrical stimulation. There are over 200 acupuncture points on the external ear, and each point corresponds to a part of the anatomy. In auricular acupuncture, the ear represents an inverted fetus, with stimulation points affecting the corresponding parts of the body. The ear is thought to be crossed by all major meridians.

How Does it Work?

Both Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine have tenets on how auricular acupuncture works. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, acupuncture restores balance to your qi (the circulating life energy of Chinese philosophy, pronounced “chee”), which can become blocked, stagnant, or weak. The needles in the stimulation points on the ear access the Meridians (channels) through which the qi flows, and ensure that there is an even circulation of qi. Thus, in effect, the body is stimulated to heal itself, and balance is restored. The ear is thought to be crossed by all major meridians.

From a Western Medicine point of view, acupuncture is effective in healing because the external ear has several nerve endings that promote an electrochemical response in the brain. These nerve endings are linked to the brain and other organs through the central nervous system. When these nerves are stimulated by acupuncture, neurochemicals such as dopamine and endorphins are released.

More About Auricular Acupuncture

Auricular acupuncture has been used in the United States for over twenty five years. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the clinical effectiveness of auricular acupuncture, and the National Institute of Health has concluded that those who receive acupuncture undergo physiological and biochemical changes more significant than those produced by the placebo effect. Auricular acupuncture is especially effective in decreasing the craving for drugs and alcohol, reducing withdrawal symptoms, relieving tension and helping patients relax.These effects are what make auricular acupuncture a good choice for stopping smoking, for weight loss, and for managing ADD/ADHD.

Auricular acupuncture helps the body return to its normal state of balance. When a person is quitting smoking, for example, his or her body is undergoing a dramatic change; the acupuncture helps restore his or her balanced state of well being. Additionally, as one is going through the physical changes in these types of lifestyle changes they have more stress to deal with. The acupuncture treatments help calm the patient and have a lasting effect--many patients report not being as ‘uptight’ or ‘angry’ after starting an auricular acupuncture program. Additionally many patients report better sleeping patterns.

The three situations/conditions we are treating with our new “Healthy Living Makeover Programs” at Peaceful Spirit have specific point protocols unique to that condition. The principle of treatment is essentially the same in all three circumstances, though it is addressed in a different manner. For example, if one patient is stopping smoking while another is being treated for weight control, both patients would receive a treatment that calms them but the smoking cessation patient would receive a treatment specific to withdrawal from nicotine while the weight control patient would receive a treatment specific to appetite control.

In conclusion, when our lives are out of balance we can develop bad habits, which throws us further out of balance, creating a negative cycle of unhealthy patterns. Helping the body back into a state of balance helps to create a balanced life overall, and leading a balanced life is what promotes longevity and vitality, which creates the opportunities for us to fulfill our dreams.