Auriculotherapy

Auriculotherapy

What is Auriculotherapy?

auriculotherapy

Auriculotherapy is the stimulation of the auricle of the external ear for the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions in other parts of the body. It is also known as ear acupuncture or auricular acupuncture when the stimulation is achieved by the insertion of acupuncture needles, whereas the term auriculotherapy often refers to electrical stimulation of the surface of ear reflex points. Specific points on the ear can also be stimulated by manual pressure, referred to as auricular acupressure or ear reflexology. Acupuncture points on the ear can also be stimulated with lasers, magnets, and ear pellets.

What is the role of Endorphins in Auriculotherapy?

The endorphins, endogenous morphine molecules that relieve pain in a manner similar to external opiate chemicals, have been used as one explanation for how Auriculotherapy serves to relieve pain. Both animal research and human studies have shown that stimulation of ear acupuncture points appears to cause the systemic release of endorphins. Administration of the opiate antagonist naloxone partially blocks the analgesia produced by either Auriculotherapy or by acupuncture.

What health conditions are most helped by auriculotherapy?

Because every part of the external ear connects through the microsystem remote reflexes to every part of the body, a wide variety of health problems are relieved by auriculotherapy. Almost all health conditions can be affected to some degree by stimulating reactive ear points. The most commonly reported uses of auriculotherapy have been for the control of chronic pain, detoxification from addictive drugs, relief of nausea, and reduction of hypertension.

How does auriculotherapy affect pain conditions?

Most chronic pain is due to myofascial pain, related to the constriction of the connective tissue surrounding muscles in spasm. Muscles do not remain in spasm unless there are motor neurons causing them to contract. Maintenance of pathological muscles spasms is due to pathological brain reflex patterns that keep spinal reflex re-initiating the activation of the motor neurons that cause muscles to sustain their contraction. By stimulating ear reflex points that connect to the somatotopic reflex system in the brain, the pathological brain patterns can be electrically reset stop the unwanted activation of spinal reflexes. Pain sensations that are due to irritated nerves can be relieved by the normalizing of pathological, hypersensitive reflex pathways that interconnect the ear microsystem and the somatotopic brain. In addition to these neurological explanations, it is also theorized that pain relief from auriculotherapy is achieved by the hormonal release of endorphins into the blood. From a Traditional Oriental Medicine perspective, pain is due to the blockage of Qi (pronounced chee) energy in the acupuncture meridian channels, thus creating an imbalance in the macro-acupuncture system. By stimulating specific ear points in the auricular microsystem, bi-directional connections are activated in the body macrosystem which lead to a balancing of energy and an increase flow of Qi.

How does Auriculotherapy affect drug abuse?

As with pain control, explanations for the effectiveness of auriculotherapy in facilitating the reduction of drug abuse derive from both a Western neurological conceptualization and a Traditional Oriental Medicine perspective. The first evidence of the power of Auriculotherapy in reducing the substance cravings of drug addicts came from H.L. Wen of Hong Kong in the 1970′s, and were expanded upon by Dr. Michel Smith, a physician who practices Oriental Medicine in New York City. The Lung point on the ear used to relieve addiction disorders is said to affect the energy of the Lung meridian, which affects not only respiratory disorders but problems with detoxification. A Western neurological explanation of drug detoxification with Auriculotherapy is based on the observation that the concha area of the ear which is used to treat addiction problems represents the control of the autonomic nervous system through the vagus nerve and through the hypothalamus of the brain.