Auricular Acupuncture – The Whole Body Imaged on the Ear

Out of everything that I have learned in my study of Chinese medicine, I think the theory behind auricular acupuncture is the most fascinating. The Chinese have used points on the ear to treat disease in the body for thousands of years. But as recently as the 1950’s, Dr. Paul Nogier of France, did his own mapping of the body on the ear based on the theory of superimposing an inverted fetus over the structure of the ear.
Enlarge photo of ear modelUsing this somatotopic representation, the ear lobe represents the head, the feet are towards the top of the ear and the body is in between. The outer edge of the ear (the helix curve) corresponds to the back of the “baby” as it lies inverted in the womb. Once you see this image taking form, you will see that the raised ridge on the ear (the antihelix) represents the spinal vertebrae. All of the internal organs are located in the innermost part of the ear. The heart and lungs are in the lower depression (the inferior cavum concha) and the intestines, kidney and bladder are in the superior cavum concha.

The ear, being a holographic representation of the whole body, can therefore be used to diagnose and treat pain or disease in the body! As crazy as this sounded to me at first, I have seen many times in my practice how this works. When there is pain or disease in the body, there will be changes on the ear over the corresponding body part. Those changes may be color changes, nodules, pitting, desquamation or changes in blood vessel formations. The electrical resistance over the surface of the point will also change and can be detected with instruments designed for that purpose.
For example, I had a patient with gall bladder inflammation that her physician was “keeping an eye on”. The entire gall bladder area on the ear was red, puffy and very tender. A woman with uterine fibroids had a definite bump on the ear over the uterus point. People who suffer from headaches will have very tender spots on the ear lobe corresponding to the part of the head where the headache manifests. People who suffer from chronic disease, such as asthma, may have a pale discoloration over the lung area. Lines, or grooves, will form over the ear in distinct places indicating that that person suffers from heart disease, tinnitus or even has missing teeth!
More than 200 kinds of disorders can be treated with ear acupuncture with an 85% effectiveness rate. Ear points can be stimulated via acupuncture needles with or without electrical stimulation. Ear points may be used in conjunction with body acupuncture.
Often I apply small seeds over specific points and instruct the patient to press them several times a day. In effect, he is giving himself an acupressure treatment between acupuncture treatments. In China it is a common practice to massage the ears every day to prevent disease and I often demonstrate the techniques to my patients.

About the Author:
Joyce Marley is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in New Hartford, NY. She writes alternative health articles about acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine.

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