Auricular acupuncture is a technique that involves stimulating specific points on the ear. This method is based on the idea that the ear contains a map of the entire body and is therefore considered a microsystem. By targeting these specific points, practitioners aim to influence corresponding parts of the body.
Auricular acupuncture is widely used for the prevention, treatment, and care of over 150 different conditions. These include various pain disorders such as headaches, migraines, trigeminal neuralgia, and sciatica, as well as inflammatory diseases like acute conjunctivitis, tonsillitis, and pharyngitis. Allergies and hypersensitivity disorders, such as urticaria and allergic rhinitis, can also be treated with auricular acupuncture, in addition to functional disorders like arrhythmia, hypertension, and neurasthenia. In recent years, ear acupuncture has shown to be more effective than other therapies in smoking cessation, weight loss, and treating beauty-related skin ailments such as acne and chloasma, as well as athletic syndrome. While generally safe, ear acupuncture should not be used if there is obvious inflammation or disease in the outer ear, including broken frostbite, infection, ulceration, and eczema. Pregnant women, especially those with a history of habitual abortion, should also avoid ear acupuncture.
Three commonly used methods for auricular acupuncture
Filiform Needling Method Auricular acupuncture
This technique involves using stainless steel filiform needles, generally 28-32 gauge and half an inch long. The depth of needling depends on the thickness of different parts of the auricle, and the needle should be inserted into the ear cartilage (but not through it) until there is a sense of needle resistance. Resistance is typically felt as pain, but may also be experienced as sourness, swelling, coolness, or numbness. The needle is left in place for 20-30 minutes. One or both sides of the ear can be needled each time, once a day or every other day.
Subcutaneous Needling Method Auricular acupuncture
This technique involves embedding a subcutaneous needle into an ear acupoint. Generally, only one ear is embedded at a time, but both sides can be embedded if necessary. The needle is left in place for 2-4 days, and the embedding period should be shorter in summer and longer in winter. The embedding area should not be wet or soaked, and local swelling and pain should be checked for promptly. This method should not be used if there is inflammation or frostbite in the ear skin.
Seed Pressure Method Auricular acupuncture
Also known as ear seed pressing or ear acupoint sticking method, this is a simple and safe ear acupoint stimulation method. The material used for pressing the seed is often Wang Buliu, mung beans, or magnetic beads. When pressing, it is advisable to use the thumb and index finger to hold the inside and outside of the auricle, pinch the pressure material, and press and release each acupoint repeatedly for about half a minute. Press 3-4 times a day, and change the adhesive tape 1-2 times a week.