Ear or auricular acupuncture is a form of acupuncture that entails the insertion of needles into certain points on the outer ear or auricle. When these points are stimulated, it leads to the healing of other parts of the body.
Auricular acupuncture, also called auricular therapy is usually integrated into conventional acupuncture treatments. Although this type of acupuncture is mainly based on the theories of traditional Chinese medicine (a form of alternative medicine that came from China), it was mainly developed and refined by French doctor, Paul Nogier in the mid twentieth century.
Applications of Auricular Acupuncture
Auricular acupuncture is utilized to boost vital energy (called qi or chi) in the body and to restore or promote balance between two opposing but complementary energies known as yin and yang in the internal organs. These two functions of auricular acupuncture are deemed indispensible in the attainment of health and treatment of disease in traditional Chinese medicine.
Auricular acupuncture is a form of alternative treatment that’s often used for the following health conditions:
• Low back pain
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Chronic pain
Besides these, auricular acupuncture is occasionally used to support weight loss, alleviate stress, promote adequate quality sleep, relieve pain, help in the cessation of smoking, and the improvement of mood.
Auricular Acupuncture – Its Benefits
Despite the lack of large-scale clinical trials on auricular acupuncture, several studies indicate that this type of treatment may help in the resolution of a number of health problems.
The following is a list of several findings on auricular acupuncture and the health benefits it can potentially provide:
Studies dealing with the efficacy of auricular acupuncture in the cessation of smoking have so far produced mixed results. For example, the Swiss Journal of Research in Complementary and Natural Classical Medicine published a study in 2004 that surveyed 126 people who have been treated with auricular acupuncture to help them stop smoking. The study found that the therapy had a 41.1 percent rate of success that lasted a whole year.
Based on this finding, the authors of the study concluded that this success rate makes auricular acupuncture “a viable alternative to conventional medicine withdrawal techniques.”
However, the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine published a clinical trial study indicating that auricular acupuncture treatment of 125 people was no more effective than a placebo treatment in the improvement of the likelihood of smoking cessation.
The study involved treatments done once a week for five consecutive weeks.
With regard to the treatment of insomnia, several studies suggest that auricular acupuncture can be helpful in the curing of this condition. Some of those studies were published in the Complementary Therapies in Medicine in 2003. These studies observed the impacts of a type of auricular acupuncture that entails the use of magnetic pearls to activate acupuncture points.
In one of those studies, auricular acupuncture was administered to 15 elderly people suffering from insomnia for three weeks. Outcomes showed that the subjects had a notable rise in both quantity and quality of their sleep that last for half a year after the end of the study.
A medical review published in 2010 in the JACM (Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine) indicates that auricular acupuncture may help in the treatment of constipation. Researchers reviewed 29 studies on the application of this type of acupuncture in the management of constipation.
Despite the reports showing the effectiveness of auricular acupuncture in the treatment of constipation in all of the studies, the reviewers concluded that more studies are required to validate these findings because of major flaws found in the reviewed studies.
In 2010, the JACM published a report in which researchers reviewed 17 studies on the effects of auricular acupuncture in the management of pain. It was concluded by the authors of the report that this therapy can work in relieving postsurgical pain and a variety of bodily pain.
According to a study published in 2012 in the Acupuncture and Electro-Therapeutics Research, auricular acupuncture works in the treatment of migraines. The results on 35 patients with migraine were analyzed and according to the authors of the study, auricular acupuncture treatments once a week for two months resulted in major improvements in mood and pain.
You need to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first if you’re thinking of trying auricular acupuncture. Delaying or avoiding conventional care or treating yourself can lead to serious health consequences.