WHAT IS EAR ACUPUNCTURE
Ear acupuncture is also known as auricular therapy and is based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The human ear alone has in excess of 200 acupuncture points. The ear is a self contained micro system from which one can treat the entire body. In fact, there is an orderly anatomical arrangement of acupuncture points on the ear which look like an inverted foetus. Put simply, it is possible to treat shoulder pain by choosing the corresponding shoulder acupuncture point on the ear surface.
Acupuncture points on the ear become active when there is some physical or functional disorder in the part of the body that is represented by that region of the ear. The tenderness or degree of activation increases as the degree of pathology worsens. Correspondingly, the tenderness decreases as health improves.
Auricular therapy is widely used for many conditions, including drug addiction, cigarette addiction, mood disorders, obesity, pain, and many other conditions. The acupuncture points found on the ear help to regulate the body's internal organs, structures, and functions.
WHY DO EAR ACUPUNCTURE POINTS BECOME ACTIVE
A reactive ear acupuncture point is said to signal a stress reaction in the corresponding area of the body. This manifests on the external ear as a small localised activation of the Sympathetic Nervous System. The Sympathetic arousal leads to a localised increase in electrodermal skin conductance that is detectable by using an electrical point finder. Sympathetic activation also induces localised regions of vasoconstriction in the skin of the ear. The restricted blood supply causes an accumulation of subdermal toxic biochemicals that account for the perception of tenderness and the surface skin reactions often seen at ear acupuncture points.
When pain is only felt on one side of the body the electrical conductivity is significantly greater in the ear point on the ipsilateral ear. For example, when there is pain in the right shoulder there is a corresponding increased tenderness at the shoulder point of the right ear. The practitioner therefore only needs to treat the right ear.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN EAR ACUPUNCTURE POINTS ARE STIMULATED
A dull, deep, aching feeling called ‘De Qi’ often accompanies the stimulation of a body acupuncture point, but this sensation is not usually observed by stimulating an ear acupuncture point. Auricular stimulation is a more sharp piercing sensation but it only lasts a few seconds.
The blood flow to the ear is greatly enhanced and this may manifest as a rosy coloured ear for the duration of the treatment.
Both body acupuncture and ear acupuncture have been found to raise blood serum and CSF levels of endorphins and enkephalins. These are natural pain relieving biochemicals.
WHAT ARE EAR SEEDS AND EAR TACKS
Ear acupuncture points may be stimulated for a longer period of time by using ear seeds or ear tacks. Ear seeds are small seeds from the Vaccaria plant. These seeds are held in place on the ear with a small piece of adhesive tape. Ear seeds may be left in the ear for a few days or up to two weeks. Ear tacks are very small needles with an adhesive backing. Ear tacks are inserted into the ear and left in the ear for a few days or up to one week.