History of Auriculotherapy

Ancient China: (475 BC) All systems of acupuncture began with the original Chinese medical text, the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine. In this text, all six Yang Meridians were said to be directly connected to the Auricle, whereas the six Yin meridians were indirectly connected to the ear. These ancient Chinese Ear Points were not organized somatotopically, but were arranged as a scattered array of points on the ear.

Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome: (400 BC) Ancient physicians like Hippocrates and Galen recorded clinical uses of ear rings and other forms of ear stimulation for various problems, particularly the treatment of sexual and menstrual disorders.

Ancient Persia: (200 AD) After the fall of Rome, ancient medical records were best preserved in Persia. These ancient records showed a treatment for Sciatica by cauterizations on the ear.

Middle Ages: (1500) The Dutch East India Company, while pursuing merchant trading in China, brought Chinese acupuncture back to Europe. Included in these discoveries were the use of Ear Acupuncture, as well as the development of the Western hypodermic needle from Chinese acupuncture needles.

Renaissance: (1700) Sporadic clinical reports in Europe discussed the use of ear cauterizations to relieve Sciatica pain.

Modern France: (1950) Dr. Paul Nogier, a neurologist from Lyon, France, observed the occurrence of scars on the ear of patients who were successfully treated by French lay practitioners for Sciatica pain. He developed the somatotopic map of the Ear, based upon the concept of an Inverted Fetus orientation. He eventually discovered over 200 auricular points. His work was first presented in France, then communicated to a German acupuncture society, and finally was translated into Chinese.

Modern China: (1960) The Nanking Army Ear Acupuncture Research Team verified the clinical accuracy of the Nogier Ear Homunculus. They empirically assessed the ear points of over 2,000 clinical patients, utilizing “Barefoot Doctors” as part of Mao Tse Tung’s efforts to de-Westernize Chinese Medicine.

United States: (1980) A double-blind, experimentally controlled UCLA research study statistically verified the scientific accuracy of Auricular Diagnosis. A statistically significant level of 75% accuracy was achieved in diagnosing the musculoskeletal pain problems of 40 pain patients. By evaluating specific areas of heightened tenderness and increased electrical activity on the ear, areas of the body with some dysfunction could be correctly identified, whereas areas of the body free from pathology were correctly identified with non-pathological points on the ear.

Subsequent UCLA research focused upon the comparison of Chinese and French auricular points, the use of auricular electro-acupuncture for withdrawing chronic pain patients from opiate medications, and the naloxone reversibility of dental analgesia produced by auriculotherapy.

—Courtesy of Jim Shores, PhD