What is Auricular Therapy?
By Dr. Wanda Duong, DTCM, R.Ac., B.Sc.,
Auricular Therapy (AT), also called Auriculotherapy, is both a diagnostic and an integrative treatment procedure whereby the external surface of the ear, or auricle, is stimulated to alleviate conditions in other parts of the body.
The principles of Auricular Therapy (AT) are based upon both Traditional Chinese Medicine and neurological reflex therapies that were discovered in Europe. The essential principle in AT is that there are neurological reflexes and energetic correspondences between specific areas of the external ear, or auricle, and other parts of the body that are arranged in the pattern of an inverted fetus, which is similar to principles of reflexology on the feet.
AT can produce a therapeutic effect for treating various conditions by stimulating the acupoint that corresponds to the targeted part of the body or organ. Treatment of those reactive ear points can be achieved by tactile acupressure (ear seeds and acupressure) or by the insertion of very thin acupuncture needles.
The WHO recognizes AT as a micro-acupuncture system that can produce a positive impact on regulating the whole body, and its therapeutic effect has been investigated in a wide range of health problems in both oriental and western countries. AT can be used to address very similar issues that body acupuncture can address including reducing pain, anxiety, withdrawal and addictions symptoms, migraines, insomnia, digestive issues, and many other conditions. Similar to body acupuncture, thin needles can be used on the ear for a short duration and a strong effect/stimulus. As an alternative, ear seeds can be placed onto acupoints of the ears to provide a much gentler stimulus whereby the patient is sent home with the ear seeds still in place and instructed on how to massage the ear seeds. This allows for a gentle yet longer stimulus of the acupoint on the ear. Traditionally, ear seeds come from the flowering herb Vaccaria, but practitioners can also use metal, silver, or gold-plated seeds today.
An ear seed appointment can be completed quite quickly and is done in a seated position. The procedure will typically look something like the following:
1. Clean and dry the outside of your ear. The ears are disinfected in preparation for the ear seeds that will go on the outside of your ear, not in your ear canal.
2. Identify the correct points. The acupuncturist will locate the best points based on your needs and symptoms.
3. Ear seeds applied. Ear seeds typically come pre-attached to adhesive tape where the The practitioner will press gently on the tape to make sure the ear seeds stick to the ear well.
4. Massage ear seeds gently. The patient is asked to follow simple instructions of massaging the ear seed three to five times each day or when symptoms are present. Apply pressure to massage the ear seeds for 30 seconds to two minutes if comfortable.
5. Change them regularly. As ear seed application does not stimulate an acupoint as strongly as needles, it is recommended to have an ear seed (auricular) appointment every 1-2 weeks when beginning treatment. Additionally, though safe to shower with, ear seeds will naturally fall off on their own from 2 – 7 days. Your practitioner will also recommend you remove any remaining ear seeds after about 5 -7 days regardless, so it’s recommended to get them replaced regularly to continue to benefit from those points.
6. Removal. You can use tweezers or your nails to remove the ear seeds. Simple tilt your head slightly to face the ground and remove the seeds.
Speak to our registered acupuncturist, Dr. Wanda Duong TCM, for more information or book your ear seed appointment today at Active Sports Therapy, Willow Park 403-278-1405