Auricular acupuncture is what is sometimes referred to as a microsystem of acupuncture, where the whole body can be treated through a single part. There are over 200 points on the ear which relate to various body parts and systems. When these points are stimulated through needling, touch or electronic stimulation, they trigger electrical impulses which are relayed by the brain and create healing in the related areas.
Auricular acupuncture has its origins in the ancient Chinese practise of classical acupuncture. The importance of the ear first being described in the text “The Yellow Emperors Classic of Internal Medicine” which details practises in use around 500 BC, it shows how acupuncture channels circulate round or close to the ear and also how the ear is connected to the internal organs and can be used to diagnose disease.
Following a demise in traditional medicine in the 19th century, Mao Tse Tsung encouraged the revival of acupuncture after the Communist revolution, where it became part of the orthodox medical system. In 1958, Dr Paul Nogier visited China following his extensive research in auricular therapy using a Western Scientific approach and re-vitalised auricular acupuncture in China where a more traditional approach using the energetic principals of the five elements, herbs and yin and yang were applied.
There are some discrepancies in the positioning of the points between the Chinese and Western based systems.
The Western history of auricular acupuncture owes much of its existence to the brilliance and diligence of Dr Paul Nogier, a neurologist from Lyon in France. In 1950 he observed cauterisation scars in the ears of some of his patients who had been treated by a lay practitioner, Mme Barrin who had used a certain point in the ear to successfully treat sciatica. She had learnt this from her father who worked as a doctor in China and had learnt it from the Chinese.
Dr Nogier used the technique on his own patients, also with great success and due to an unwillingness to scar people with cauterisation, went onto experiment with using acupuncture needles. Dr Nogier had previously trained with Soulie de Morant, the French consul who brought acupuncture to the West from China following his time there between 1907 – 1927 and subsequently trained many doctors in its techniques.
Dr Nogier conducted comprehensive research in the following years mapping the points and their related parts, basing his system on an inverted foetus with the head represented by the ear lobe and the feet at the top of the external ear and developing very precise charts. His aforementioned visit to China in 1958 had a great influence on the re-awakening of this knowledge there. In 1975, he began to teach what he knew, whilst continuing his research on the use of electrical and magnetic treatments. The use of auricular acupuncture in treating pain, chronic conditions and in detox situations has continued to grow and has an exciting future. The American Army are now working with it to use on soldiers in extreme pain. Dr Nogier died in 1996 but his work is continued by his son Raphael Nogier.