Auricular Acupuncture or Auriculotherapy: What is it? Indications, Contraindications and Studies of This Popular Therapy

It is today one of the most popular alternative medicine methods, not only in China and the East, but throughout the West.

The method, unlike other techniques, has met the expectations of the public due to its achievements and because it is generally less invasive, which significantly pleases patients.

The importance of strengthening auricular acupuncture was taught by Professor Nogier from France, who has dedicated many years of his life to the study of methods, books and editorial articles.

The last name that deserves to be mentioned in Auriculotherapy is Professor Huang Chun Li, for his experience in uninterrupted research accumulated over time in the search for results in this field.

The Auriculoterapia of acupuncture is a technique that uses the pinna for therapeutic treatments using reflection the atria has especially the central nervous system.

The use of this technique as a therapeutic target dates back to ancient times in the Orient and in ancient Europe.

There are reports that the women of ancient Egypt used auricular points as a form of contraception, in the century, 2500 BC, other reports, such as those of the writer Hippocrates, and translated in the year 1851 by Litfreé say that the incisions made in the pavilion from the ear of the human being produced a scant, inactive and fruitless ejaculation.

The same Hippocrates to write “The Book of Epidemics”, indicated the puncture with needle heels in the auricular vessels for the treatment of inflammatory processes.

The main work of acupuncture, found in the book “Hung Ti Nei Ching”, written more than 5,000 years ago, brings reports that the pinna is an isolated organ that maintains relationships with other organs and parts of the body to through the brain reflex , among other annotations.

Indications for auriculotherapy

We can use auriculotherapy as a treatment method for all physical and psychological problems. Based on the direct impact on the brain and through this on our entire body. This may or may not be associated with other types of treatment.

Acupuncture treatment is directed not only to treat the site or organ involved, as it acts on the entire system, stimulating the compensation mechanism and balance throughout the body to remedy the problem.

Auricular acupuncture regulates and normalizes the functions of the body as a whole.

The various functions of the body are interrelated, and if there is a disorder that alters this relationship, the disease can be stabilized in this case, with the help of auricular acupuncture that will restore well-being and health, as well as treat various types of problems such as :

In addition, a very effective result has been shown in the following treatments:

  • Anxiety / depression / stress.
  • Smoking / alcohol / drugs.
  • Slimming
  • Allergies
  • Tendinitis (LER).
  • Pain in the spine, pain in the joints.
  • Headaches / migraines.
  • Menstrual cramps and menstrual irregularities.
  • Fertility problems
  • Temporo-mandibular joint disorders.
  • Diseases of the digestive system.
  • Height problems / labyrinthitis / vertigo.

This technique can achieve immediate healing effects, as well as it can surprise us with preventive treatments.

It is applied mainly in all disorders of the musculoskeletal system, for symptoms such as menstrual cramps and pain, constipation, pain related to the nervous system, respiratory and dermatological problems.

Who can benefit from this technology?

It can be applied to patients of any age, babies, children and the elderly.

Contraindications

There are no contraindications, but adverse phenomena or rejection may occur. Symptoms such as pain, excessive sensitivity, nausea, sweating, and inflammation at the site of application can be found in rejection.

Auriculotherapy is performed once a week and each visit lasts about 40 minutes. Stiperterapia – Acupuncture without needles is a new therapeutic resource used in various therapies.

Study of auriculotherapy for smoking cessation

Study design 

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial for smoking cessation in a population of US military veterans.  

It was designed to determine the efficacy of auriculotherapy (stimulation of predetermined bilateral atrial points) by comparing the standard intervention (80 Hz) with a sham placebo (0 Hz).  

All participants were scheduled for 5 individual treatments, every 1 week apart, using the Stim Flex 400A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation unit (Electro Medical Inc., Tulsa, OK).  

Stimulation sites in the ear, known in acupuncture as Lung, Shen Men, Nicotine, Zero Point, and Palate, were used in this study, as recommended by auricular acupuncture studies and the guidelines provided by the Auriculotherapy  Manual  .  

The number of  21  military veterans (N = 125) were randomly assigned to active status or placebo. Written informed consent approved by the VA Human Subjects Committee was obtained prior to randomization. 

Pre-randomization phase 

Demographic characteristics, smoking history, and urine cotinine levels were determined at baseline.  

Randomization 

The study statistician (BS) generated permuted block assignments from a random number generator prior to the trial start date.  

Treatment allocation was indicated within sequentially numbered sealed opaque envelopes, opened by the principal investigator (DF) at the time of randomisation. 

Treatment and follow-up 

Two registered nurses were certified in the application of the Stim Flex 400A auriculotherapy device by one of the researchers (GD), nationally recognized as a certified and experienced practitioner and professor of acupuncture and auriculotherapy.  

The nurses received continuous supervision, with the investigator directly observing more than 25% of the study treatments to ensure consistent and appropriate application of treatment over time. 

All interventions comprised 5 weekly sessions of 20 minutes. Two Stim Flex 400A units were used.  

One unit was a standard operating machine (active) and the second was modified to deactivate the electrical current of the treatment to prevent flow to the probe (placebo).  

Both machines used identical probes with the ability to detect the prescribed sites and were identical in appearance, sound, and operation. All personnel with access to the patient remained blind to which machine had been altered and which provided stimulation. 

The double-blind condition was maintained throughout the data collection period. Only the study statistician and members of the Safety and Data Monitoring Committee were blinded to treatment allocation during the trial, and they had no contact with study personnel.  

At the end of the treatment program, the study participants were asked if they thought they had received the active treatment during the course of the trial. After 2 and 5 treatments (weeks 3 and 6), symptoms of smoking withdrawal, perceived stress, and nicotine withdrawal were reassessed. 

Study results 

Abstinence was determined at weeks 3 and 6 by the patient’s self-report of smoking (yes / no) and urine cotinine level (<200 ng / ml)  26  from the NicAlert point-of-care test, reflecting the smoker state for a period of 2 to 3 days.  

The method has a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 95% to identify patients who smoked even a single cigarette in the previous 3 days. 

Other outcomes included nicotine withdrawal symptoms (Minnesota withdrawal scale score before and after treatment); also perceived stress (4-item perceived stress scale score before and after treatment), and the frequency of tobacco use reported by the patient. 

To our knowledge, this is the largest and most rigorous trial to date to investigate the safety, acceptability, and efficacy of auriculotherapy for smoking cessation.  

We found auriculotherapy to be safe and largely free of significant side effects. There was no difficulty in recruiting participants for this study, and the dropout rate was acceptably low.  

In fact, most of the participants were highly motivated to quit smoking, and most found auriculotherapy to be an acceptable method to aid them in their endeavors.  

However, the study found no difference in the rate of smoking cessation between participants who received true treatment and those who received sham auriculotherapy after 3 and 6 weeks of treatment.