Updated: Feb 10
When most people think of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), they think of
Acupuncture. This process uses small needles to stimulate points throughout your body, including your ears.
Did you know there is a specific type of acupuncture that focuses exclusively on your ears? This is called: Auricular Acupuncture. This type of Auriculotherapy ("Auricular Therapy"), which is defined as any acupressure or acupuncture treatment that is specifically in the ear.
How does it work? Acupuncture, according to TCM, is based on the theory that your health depends on the flow of Qi (energy) in your body. This travels along energetic pathways, called channels or meridians found throughout the body.
Blocked or an imbalanced flow of Qi can have undesireable effects on your physical and mental health. One of many Acupuncture goals is to restore the flow of Qi by resolving any blockages or imbalances. Acupuncture does this by stimulating points found throughout your body, including your ears. Similarly to the idea of reflexology on the feet and hands, there is reflexology in the ears. Using this concept, you can create a changes in your body by simply using these points.
What are the benefits?
Auricular acupuncture is used to address a range of health concerns, including:
Cancer pain and chemotherapy side effects
Substance use disorder
How many points are there?
The World Health Organization (WHO) created a standardized list of 39 auricular points in 1990.
Of these 39 standard points, 10 master points are often used in auricular
acupuncture treatments. However, there are more than 200 acupuncture points in the ear. Here are some of the most common points in the ear include:
What is an Auricular Session like? Sessions using Auricular Therapy may vary from provider to provider. Some use it in conjunction with body Acupuncture and others may use it alone as a single therapy.
At the time of the pandemic, many practitioners have moved to using Earseeds with their patients. It's another at-home healthcare option, where you can purchase the Earseeds, have them mailed to your home and a patient and practitioner can utilize technology for a Telehealth Session to include instructions and demonstrations on Earseeds home application. A common questions is - how close do you have to be if you are doing earseeds at home? Here is a great article discussing that you will still receive the benefits of earseeds, even if you are not exact!
Either session (at-home Telehealth, or In-clinic) typically begins with a practitioner engaging in discussing symptoms you want to address. They’ll likely ask you a few questions about your:
Past or current medical issues
Mental health concerns
Aches or Pains
If you’re having other points stimulated, and auricular is included in your full body treatment--you may be asked to lie on your stomach, back, or side.
If you’re having acupuncture done on your ear, especially in a community style setting, you’ll likely spend the session in a seated position.
Next, the practitioner will insert the needles. It may sting briefly, however some people don’t report feeling anything during the session.
Once the needles inserted, you’ll sit or lie quietly for between 10 and 20 minutes. Finally, the needles will be removed, which is usually painless. Occasionally there is bleeding, and common, since the ear is highly vascular.
And you're done! Be mindful of your body and its response. Some people feel the effects immediately, while others have a delayed response and notice differences a few hours or even days later. Each individual experiences this in a unique way. Leave a comment and let us know what your experience with Auricular Therapy is like--either with needles or Earseeds!
Consider This Acupuncture treatment may include using the ear for accessing the healing mechanisms of the body for common health issues, from chronic pain to digestion issues.
If you’re interested in trying alternative treatments or have struggled to get results with other approaches, Auricular Acupuncture might be worth a try. Be sure to see a Licensed Acupuncturist.
All licensed Acupuncturists at SDHMA are trained in Auricular Therapy and are able to include it in your next session by a simple request. We hope you are able to experience the benefits of this amazing modality.
Want to learn more about EARSEEDS?
Not sure where to start? Purchase these: https://www.earseeds.com/product/300-ear-seeds/ref/426 (most cost effective) and keep these on hand. The points for treatment can be changed each week. You can find diagrams online or schedule a session with a practitioner to help you choose your points each week.
BONUS INFO +++ Ear Acupuncture in the Media | Documentary Auricular for PTSD
Auricular Therapy was featured in the 2012 documentary film Escape Fire as a treatment for PTSD in military personnel returning from service. "ESCAPE FIRE exposes the perverse nature of American healthcare, contrasting the powerful forces opposing change with the compelling stories of pioneering leaders and the patients they seek to help. The film is about finding a way out. It’s about saving the health of a nation." Watch the trailer here.