Auriculotherapy applies the principles of acupuncture to specific points on the ear. It is a treatment modality where the specific malfunctioning organ or a systemic illness can be treated by application of a laser and/or TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit to a correlating part of the external ear.
The point on the ear is located according to a somatotopic map, where each part of the auricle, or external ear, corresponds with a part of the body. The most popular somatotopic map is the "inverted fetus" image, where the organs correspond to the superimposed image of an upside-down person. However, at least four other maps exist to locate and treat maladies of the body. Practitioners may use the somatotopic map to correct imbalances or disease in nearly any part of the body, including chronic health conditions and diseases.
Auriculotherapy was discovered by Dr. Paul Nogier in the 1950s, a French lay practitioner who treated sciatica by cauterizing, or destroying by burning, searing, or scarring, an area of the ear. Dr. Nogier's success with this treatment led him to investigate the insertion of acupuncture needles into the ear as a treatment for pain. Proponents believe that auriculotherapy works because many of the nerve endings in the ear connect to hormonal parts of the brain and organs within the body.
Auriculotherapy is most popularly used to treat substance abuse and chronic pain. Some hospitals offer auriculotherapy for post-operative pain management. Some detox centers provide auriculotherapy for the treatment of drug addiction.
Proponents claim that auriculotherapy can and should be used to maintain health and promote recovery from almost any condition. Uses of auriculotherapy based on tradition or theory include addiction, adrenal disorders, analgesia, chronic pain, high blood pressure, inflammation, musculoskeletal disorders, pain, relaxation, sciatica, stress, and swelling. Advocates claim that because of the wide range of point functions and locations on the ear, auriculotherapy has a promising future alongside conventional Western treatment of nearly every condition. Despite its claimed uses, there are currently no available high quality trials confirming its efficacy.

Related Terms

Auriculotherapist, auricular medicine, detox, ear acupuncture, electroacupuncture, helium-neon laser, inverted fetus image, Paul Nogier, press ball, somatotopic map, TENS unit.