Auriculotherapy: What is it? Characteristics, History, Uses, Considerations and Efficacy

Auricular therapy has been highly developed in recent years and widely used in clinical practice.

Auriculotherapy (auricular therapy, ear acupuncture and auriculoacupuncture), also known as Auricular Medicine, is a therapy used by physicians around the world to treat pain, addictions and internal disorders with excellent results.

Auriculotherapy is a technique of using points on the skin of the atrium (outer ear) to diagnose and treat pain and medical conditions of the body, it is a form of alternative medicine based on the idea that the ear is a micro system , which reflects the whole body, represented in the auricle, the outer part of the ear.

Conditions affecting the physical, mental or emotional health of the patient are supposed to be treatable by stimulating the surface of the ear alone. Similar mappings are used in many areas of the body, including reflexology and iridology practices.

These assignments are not based or supported by any medical or scientific evidence and are therefore considered pseudoscience.

Best of all, it is safe, non-invasive, and has no known side effects.

Characteristics of auriculotherapy

Widely used in pathology with positive results : some diseases react favorably to acupuncture therapy of the ear , such as acute injuries, sprained tendons, whiplash, pain conditions, Ménière’s syndrome, acute inflammation and loss of voice.

Easy to use and costs less : the ear points have a specific distribution of points. More and more health professionals prefer to study and use this therapy.

Ear therapy does not need special equipment so it costs less because you only need filiform needles, tri-edged needles, sterile cotton balls, medical tape, and stainless steel ear balls in most cases.

Fewer Side Effects – Ear acupuncture therapy is one of the safest therapeutic techniques.

There is no possibility of damaging internal organs, it cannot cause a stuck or broken needle, and using the clean needle technique there is very little chance of infection. The physician should explain auricular therapy to the patient to alleviate anxiety.

The practitioner should also insert the needle correctly, lightly, and steadily so that fainting is prevented.

Pain control : The most favorable aspect of auricular therapy is pain control. From clinical experience, it is very effective in stopping pain immediately.

Combines diagnosis and treatment : in addition to using auricular therapy for disease diagnosis, it is also used for treatment. Clinical experiences have shown that the positive reaction point is also an effective point for treatment.


Auriculotherapy has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine.

Just as this ancient art of healing defines acupuncture points on the body for the treatment of various conditions, similar points are defined on the ear, the somatotopic correspondence of specific parts of the body with specific parts of the ear was first developed in France. .

It is this integrated system of Chinese and Western auricular acupuncture practices that is introduced.

Auriculotherapy was proposed in the «Treaty of Auriculotherapy» (1957), by the neurologist Dr. Paul Nogier of Lyon . It expanded the original Chinese charts into a more comprehensive system. The “modern” approach, “discovered” by Paul Nogier, is said to have proposed that:

The surface of the body and internal organs are depicted on the ear in a pattern that resembles an inverted fetus (homunculus).

Electrical stimulation, acupuncture or massage of the appropriate point lead to a dramatic abolition or decrease of pain in the corresponding part of the body.

Later, Nogier produced additional diagrams in which the part (s) of the ear said to represent a specific organ varied according to the “stage” of the ailment.

Dr. Nogier’s work demonstrated that the ear is actually a micro map of the entire body, with all parts of the body represented.

The developments were made through clinical trials based on a phrenological method of projection of a fetal homunculus in the ear, for reference of physical complaints and points for medical treatment.

Nogier soon presented his discovery to the public, where members of the Chinese military picked up the map and brought it to China’s barefoot doctors, farmers with minimal training in basic medicine and paramedical skills, thus providing medical services in rural China.

In addition, Nogier published what he called the “Vascular Autonomic Signal,” a distinctive change in pulse width, easily felt with the tip of the thumb in the radial artery.

That mechanism would only produce a signal on the introduction of new information to the electromagnetic field of the patient. Nogier was then working with the principle of resonance matching, and he said that he could use the vascular autonomic signal to detect the active points of the atrial microsystem.

Much of Dr. Nogier’s original work has been verified in numerous research studies, and both Chinese and European systems build on his work.

Auricular Medicine International now claims that “auricular medicine has become a medical system of its own” and that “auricular diagnosis can be used to discover more than 200 different diseases, including internal, gynecological, five sense organs and all other aberrations. physical and mental. »

It also claims that diagnosis can be achieved through inspection, finding tender points, pressing with a pencil to see how the skin reacts, measuring the skin’s resistance to a small electrical current, and using a computer to interpret resistance measurements. .

Google searches for “auriculotherapy” and “auriculoacupuncture” indicate that “auriculotherapy” is much more common, but the terms are often used interchangeably.

The terms ear acupuncture or auricular acupuncture are used when stimulation is achieved by inserting acupuncture needles. When specific points or areas in the ear are stimulated by manual pressure, the approach is called auricular acupressure or auditory reflexology.

Acupuncture points on the ear can also be stimulated with lasers, magnets, and ear lozenges. Proponents claim that auriculotherapy is effective against facial pain and various ailments throughout the body.

They also claim that sensing electrical conductance and sensitivity can reveal specific points that can be stimulated to alter abnormal reflex patterns in the brain, internal organs, and other regions of the body.

A leading acupuncture textbook states that “the atrial somatotopic system appears to function as a miniature transceiver in direct contact with the nervous system.”

The Institute of Auriculotherapy, founded in 1999, offers certification in auriculotherapy, auricular acupuncture, and auricular medicine. Their website directory lists nearly 340 certified professionals in the United States.


Auriculotherapy is widely used for pain control, addictions of all kinds, internal disorders, emotional problems, and a host of other problems. In auriculotherapy, an active reflex point is only detected when there is some pathology, pain or dysfunction in the corresponding part of the body.

If there is no bodily problem, there is no ear reflex point. An active reflex point is identified as an area of ​​the ear that exhibits increased sensitivity to applied pressure and increased electrodermal conductivity of the skin.

The health disorders that are commonly associated with each part of the atrium when there is pathology in a particular anatomical organ are presented below.

You can use auriculotherapy to treat a wide variety of common adult and pediatric conditions, such as emotional and behavioral problems, digestive problems, the common cold, headaches, pain, weight loss, and more.

Auriculotherapy has been used successfully to treat a wide variety of diseases, as well as to control pain. Some of the more common conditions treated with this method include:

  • Headaches.
  • Allergies
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Constipation .
  • Sports injuries.
  • Stress and anxiety.
  • Sciatica and back pain.
  • High blood pressure
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Overweight and obesity.
  • Addictions

Even if stimulating ear points don’t magically melt away our body fat, it will certainly help us control our appetite, reduce water retention, and get rid of toxins.

In addition, it is a safe method, easy to apply; it can be combined with any other therapeutic approach and has no drug interactions.

About the points

The zones in Phase 1 are now said to correlate with normal physiology or acute pathology. Phase 2 is said to correspond to degenerative conditions, with the “inverted fetus” transformed into an upright position.

Phase 3 is said to correspond to subacute and chronic conditions, with the homunculus rotated approximately halfway.

Therefore, points related to remote structures are said to be found in up to three locations depending on the stage of the disease process.

Some organs and structures in the Chinese auricular system differ from those postulated by Nogier because the Chinese model focuses on functional observations and, instead of using anatomical descriptions, the Chinese identified some points with functional or metaphorical names.

Thus, the “acupuncture” points are more nebulously located and have not been integrated into the maps used by Nogier’s followers .

Finding the points for auriculotherapy and diagnosis requires some practice in targeting due to the extremely individual shape of the outer ear.

The first orientation is the image of the homunculus in the outer ear (the embryo standing on its head). According to this, the organs of the head are represented inferiorly and the upper extremities.

It does not seem insignificant that, for somatotopia of the ear, the outer ear is innervated by three different nerves:

  • The shell is innervated by the auricular branch of the vagus nerve.
  • Most of the ear is supplied by part of the third trigeminal branch.
  • The earlobe, along with part of the edge of the helix, is supplied by the great auricular nerve from the cervical plexus.

Nogier’s (1983) distinction in entdermal, mesodermal, and ectodermal areas of representation with relevant life areas and key points is revealing, although these are broadly covered with the three main areas of innervation.

Number of sessions

Typically, two to ten sessions of auriculotherapy are required to fully alleviate a condition, but significant improvement can be seen within the first two sessions.

By monitoring the level of perceived pain in a region of the body, and by determining the range of motion of the musculoskeletal areas, one can more easily determine the progress of auriculotherapy treatments.

These behavioral assessments should be done before and after an ear therapy session.

For internal organs and neuroendocrine disorders, there is often no specific symptom to notice; therefore, one must wait to observe a change in the patient’s condition.

Even for musculoskeletal problems, there may not be noticeable pain relief until several hours later; therefore, the patient should continue to monitor their symptoms for 24 hours after a session.

What points to treat

Auriculotherapy maps show sets of points that may be applicable to the given condition. The most effective approach is to treat only the active points in any given table.

Active points are located by palpation of sensitivity (active points are pressure sensitive) or by electrical resistance tests.


Anti-inflammatory points and treatment of allergies and neuralgia.

Helix root

Dysfunctions of the external genitalia, sexual disorders , urinary dysfunctions and diaphragmatic problems such as hiccups.

Helix bow

Allergies, arthritis, tonsillitis and anti-inflammatory processes.

Propeller tail

Representing the dorsal horn, spinal cord sensory neurons, and the preganglionic sympathetic nervous system, this region is used for the treatment of peripheral neuropathies and neuralgia.


Treatment of problems related to the main torso of the body that are related to pain and tension associated with the musculoskeletal system.

superior raws

Disorders of the lower extremities of the leg and foot.

inferior raw

Low back pain, lumbosacral disorders, buttock spasms and sciatica.

Antihelix body

Thoracic spine problems, chest pain, shingles, and problems with the abdominal muscles.

Cola antihelix

Neck pain, cervical spine disorders and throat problems .


Dysfunctions related to the cerebral cortex of the brain, uncomfortable facial sensation, eye disorders, jaw pain, and dental analgesia. The earlobe also represents conditioned reflexes, psychological resistance and emotional blocks.


Problems with the corpus callosum, appetite control, and adrenal glands.


Frontal, temporal and occipital headaches.

Intertragic notch

Hormonal disorders of the pituitary gland control of other glands.

Scaphoid fossa

Upper extremity problems such as frozen shoulder, stiff arm, tennis elbow, wrist sprain, hand tremors, and finger pain.

Triangular fossa

Lower extremity problems such as hip pain, knee injuries, ankle sprain, foot pain, cold feet, uterine dysfunction, and pelvic organ problems.


Visceral organ disorders.

Upper shell

Disorders related to the abdominal organs, such as dysfunctions of the pancreas, gallbladder, kidney and urinary bladder.

Lower shell

Disorders related to the thoracic organs, such as heart problems and lung diseases. It is also used for substance abuse treatment.

Shell crest

Stomach and liver related disorders.

Shell wall

Dysfunctions associated with the thalamus of the brain, including general pain, sympathetic nerve problems, and vascular circulation disorders.


Laterality problems, deafness of the auditory nerve and internal disorders of the nose and throat.

inner helix

Dysfunctions related to the internal genital organs, kidney disorders and allergies.

Posterior ear

Disorders related to motor activity and problems with the musculoskeletal body, such as muscle spasms and motor paralysis.

Posterior lobe

Dysfunctions of the pyramidal motor cortex, the extrapyramidal striatal system, cerebellar tremors and eye spasms.

Posterior sulcus

Pain and muscle spasms of the paravertebral muscles.

Posterior triangle

Problems with motor control of leg movement, leg muscle spasms, and motor weakness of the legs.

Posterior shell

Problems with motor control of internal organs.

Posterior periphery

Problems with motor neurons in the spinal cord , including tremors in arm and hand movements.

High-quality auricular therapy devices have a measurement mode to locate the active points, and a treatment mode to treat the points when they are located.

What ear to treat?

Rather, treat the ear with the most active points on the chart. Although most of the pictures show the left ear, they are only illustrations, and either ear can be treated.

Practical considerations

There is no logical reason to believe that the maps by ear are valid. There are no known anatomical or physiological pathways through which the ear points are connected to the rest of the body.

Even if new pathways were discovered, they could not explain how organ dysfunctions could be detected or how locations could rotate depending on the stage of the disease.

It is also postulated that auriculoacupuncture acts through a reflex action related to specific points on the ear that become tender or painful to touch.

One well-designed study found no relationships between patient-reported regions of musculoskeletal pain and sensitive areas shown on auriculo-cupuncture maps.

Some others have found relationships, but the basic claims are so absurd that it is safe to assume that the concept of the map will never be justified. Only a few studies have tested whether auriculotherapy can relieve pain.

A more recent well-designed study of 90 cancer patients with chronic pain concluded that pain intensity decreased by 36% after two months in those who received atrioacupuncture and changed little for those who received placebo treatments.

The study authors also searched the medical literature and found three more randomized trials that were reported as positive, but were too poorly designed to be convincing.


Can auriculotherapy cure the disease?

There is certainly no scientific evidence that it can, and there is no logical reason to believe that fiddling with a person’s ear can modify the process of a disease in a remote part of the body.

Even if auriculotherapy can alleviate pain, I doubt it is profitable to use it for that purpose. As noted above, the evidence for effectiveness is scant.

Studies were not set up to assess whether atrioacupuncture would allow patients to reduce or eliminate their pain reliever. Even if you can, it would probably be much more expensive than medication.

In addition, the environment in which atrioacupuncture is administered must be considered. It may be safe to get it from a medical facility that is doing research based on what is known about human anatomy and physiology.

However, it is very foolish to seek advice or treatment from people who rely on wild ideas about how the body works.