Auriculotherapy -also known as auricular therapy (ear acupuncture) - is a form of alternative medicine based on the idea that the ear is a microsystem, meaning that the entire body is represented on the auricle (or auricula, or pinna - the outer portion of the ear) in a similar fashion to reflexology (zone therapy) and iridology (iridodiagnosis), and that the entire body can be treated by stimulation of the surface of the ear exclusively.


Exploiting the ear for the purpose of medical treatment began at the dawn of civilization. In ancient Egypt, the spirits of the dead were believed to cause pain and suffering to the living. Evil spirits were thought to enter the body through the mouth, nose, or ears in order to devour their victims. Ancient Egyptian physicians sought to remove these spirits via the same portal through which they had entered. Hippocrates (circa 450 B.C.) traveled to Egypt and spent four years learning the principles of ancient Egyptian medicine. Consequently, he wrote several books reflecting on many Egyptian therapeutic techniques including utilizing the ear for the treatment of sexual and infertility problems.In China the use of the ear for various medical purposes is widely recorded in the Chinese history of acupuncture. The ear was used sporadically, and treating diseases through the ear seriously lagged behind other ancient cultures such as those of Egypt and Persia. Before the exposure to Nogier’s discovery, ear acupuncture in China consisted only of treating three auricular points and lacked the recognition of any coherent somatotopic organization on the ear. In the 1950s, Dr. Paul Nogier noticed that a local healer (mme Barrin) in Lyon, France was treating sciatica by cauterizing an area of the ear, which prompted him to investigate the relationship between locations on the ear and human anatomy. Nogier said there was a somatotopic presentation of the inverted fetus in the ear, the anatomic regions of the fetus corresponding to specific zones of the ear. Nogier believed that pain in any part of the body could be relieved by needling, cauterizing, massaging or electrically stimulating the corresponding region of the ear. Nogier called this process auriculotherapy. It has been used as a treatment for pain and used in combined therapies to treat substance abuse (NADA protocol) [] [] . []

Vascular Autonomic Response (Signal)

"Dr Nogier noticed that there was a distinct change in the amplitude and dimension of the pulse when certain points on the auricle were stimulated. This occurs consistently and is both repeatable and measurable by modern equipment. Dr Nogier called it the Vascular Autonomic Signal (VAS) but appropriately it is a response rather than a signal. Being able to detect the VAS on the radial pulse of (generally) the patients‘ left hand enables the practitioner to precisely determine the location of a point, whether there is a pathology in the region of the body that relates to specific points, and whether certain substances (foods, medicines, herbs, etc.) are indicated. Accurate employment of the VAS in diagnosis and treatment is essential to Auriculotherapy and Auriculomedicine." []

Compared to acupuncture

* auriculotherapy considers the ear to be a localized reflex system connected to the central nervous system (whereas ear acupuncture focuses on empirical acupoints known for their specific functions. acupuncture meridians) [] . []

* auriculotherapy . Whilst some assert that auriculotherapy is a needle-less treatment it is in fact performed using either needles, laser, massage or electrical stimulation at points precisely detected by the VAS or electrical detection. [] . [] [] Treatment (stimulation of the auricle) is usually by means of an acupuncture needle, electrical probe, or sometimes photobiomodulation (laser therapy). []


Many widely differing auriculotherapy maps exist (examples: [] [] . [] ). Nogier first proposed a "somatotopic" map with the body appearing on the ear as an inverted fetus, with the head towards the lower lobule, the feet at the uppermost portion of the auricle, and the body in between; he subsequently produced three further "phase" diagrams providing additional and alternative sets of stimulation locations, in which the part or parts of the ear considered to represent a specific organ varies significantly depending on the "phase" of the ailment [] . Some French system practitioners now use a more distorted representation of the body in the ear, more similar to the somatotopic representation on the cerebal cortex [cite book| last = Rubach| first = Axel | year = 2001 | title = Principles of Ear Acupuncture | publisher = Thieme] . Chinese system diagrams place more emphasis on metaphorical names rather than anatomical locations.


* 1980: A double blind study by Dr. Terry Olson published in the Journal "Pain" found a 75.2 percent correlation between standard medical diagnosis and diagnosis from solely auricular examination. The study concluded that "these results thus support the hypothesis that there is a somatotopoic organization of the body represented upon the human auricle" []

* 1984: A controlled crossover study involving 36 patients suffering from chronic pain found that "...auriculotherapy is not an effective therapeutic procedure for chronic pain" []

* 1990: A study published in the "Journal of the South African Veterinary Association" involved auriculotherapy treatment of 30 canine subjects with thoracolumbar intervertebral disc disease. Complete recovery occurred in 50 percent of the subjects, and some improvement occurred in an additional 23 percent. Twelve of the recovered dogs were monitored for 26 weeks after the conclusion of treatment, and four of the twelve relapsed within that time. []

* 1999: A study in the Journal "Acupuncture in Medicine" "...found no evidence to support the concept that the body is represented on the ear"

* 2006: A study published in the "Oxford Journal of Human Reproduction" involved 94 subjects and found that " [auriculotherapy] significantly reduces pain intensity and analgesic consumption [required for pain relief] ... during oocyte aspiration in IVF treatment" and is additionally correlated with significantly reduced post-operative pain []

* The work of David Alimi, Alfred Geissmann, and Denis Gardeur has immensely contributed to providing an evidence-based confirmation of the existence of the auricular homunculus. Ten healthy volunteers were exposed to five paradigms of stimulation and a recording of their fMRI in echo planar imaging (EPI) sequences were made. In 9 out of 10 volunteers, the auricular acupuncture stimulation of the auricular site of projection of the thumb produced significant fMRI signals superimposed on that obtained through the tactile stimulation of the thumb itself. This interesting work clearly proves the existence of specific neurophysiological connections between the auricular homunculus and that of the brain cortices. (Alimi, D., A. Geissmann, and D. Gardeur. Auricular Acupuncture Stimulation Measured On Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Medical Acupuncture, Volume 13 / Number 2.)


* Soliman, N, "Soliman's Auricular Therapy Textbook, New Localizations and Evidence Based Therapeutic Approaches". Authorhouse, Bloomington, IN, 2008.

* Soliman, N, "Soliman's Auricular Therapy Atlas". Alternative Medicine Seminars, Rockville, Maryland. 2006. []

* [ Jim Chalmers] . 'Auriculotherapy: Modern ear acupuncture' (VAS Quote. Permission given)


* Soliman, N, "Soliman's Auricular Therapy Textbook, New Localizations and Evidence Based Therapeutic Approaches". Authorhouse, Bloomington, IN, 2008.
* Soliman, N, "Soliman's Auricular Therapy Atlas". Alternative Medicine Seminars, Rockville, Maryland. 2007. []
* Alimi, D., A. Geissmann, and D. Gardeur. Auricular Acupuncture Stimulation Measured On Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Medical Acupuncture, Volume 13 / Number 2.
* Frank BL. The Layman's Guide to Auricular Therapy. Edmond, OK, Acupuncture Medical Arts, LLC, 2007.
* Frank BL and Soliman NE. Atlas of Auricular Therapy and Auricular Medicine. Richardson, TX, Acupuncture Arts & Press, LLC, 2003.
* Frank BL and Soliman NE. Pocket Atlas of Auricular Therapy and Auricular Medicine. Richardson, TX, Acupuncture Arts & Press, LLC, 2004.

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