Ear acupuncture (auricular acupuncture) is a specific method of classic acupuncture, in which tiny needles are inserted into specific points in the ears. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the ear is not only for hearing, but also closely related to different organ systems in the human body. In other words, the ear is recognized as a microsystem of the body which reflect organs and their function on its structure. Therefore, the goal of auricular acupuncture is to regulate the body’s function by stimulating corresponding points on the ear.
In 1990, the World Health Organization has recognized 10 “master points” that are regarded as most useful. (1)
|Master points||Their effect|
|Point zero||Regulate Body homeostasis|
|Shen men||Neurogate that promotes tranquilization|
|Sympathetic||Balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems|
|Stress control||Reduces stress, pain and inflammation associated with stress|
|Thalamus point||Affects signals between the thalamus, cerebral cortex, and hypothalamus|
|Tranquilizer point||Promotes sedation|
|Endocrine point||Promotes hormone regulation|
|Master oscillation point||Balances the cerebral hemispheres|
|Master sensorial point||Controls sensory areas of the brain|
|Master cerebral point||Associated with the prefrontal lobe of the brain|
What ear acupuncture can treat
Studies have shown that ear acupuncture is useful for treating a number of medical issues, including stress relief, sleeping problems, supporting infertility treatment, smoking cessation, pain relief, substance abuse, weight loss, and so on.
Support Infertility treatment
Ear acupuncture is used during IVF to help to control stress, lower anxiety levels, enhance the blood flow of the uterus and to the ovarium, therefore plays a significant role in regulating ovarian functions, follicular growth, ovulation and the endometrium development.(2)
New Research found that the group having ears acupuncture had clinical pregnancy rate, implantation rate and live birth rate significantly higher than the group which had sham acupressure and the control group.
Another research also concluded that various disorders of the autonomic nervous system had been normalized during acupuncture. Based on their data, auricular acupuncture offers a valuable alternative therapy for infertility caused by hormone disorders.(3)
Ear acupuncture is also useful for treating migraines by reducing blood vessel spasm and stimulating blood circulation. According to a study published in Acupuncture & Electro-Therapeutics Research in 2012/9, it was said that two months of weekly ear acupuncture treatments led to significant improvements for migraine patients.
Substance Abuse, smoking cessation and Behavioral Health
In the 1970s, the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) in the USA has developed a standardized ear acupuncture protocol at Lincoln Hospital in New York for substance abuse treatment. It was designed to support drug and alcohol treatment by easing withdrawal symptoms and promoting calm. Since then, ear acupuncture is widely used in substance abuse and behavioral therapy programs.
Ear acupuncture felp smoking cessation effectively by affecting the central nervous system, reduce stress, anxiety and therefore help reduce the crave for cigarett.
Acute or Post-Surgery Pain
Acupuncture has long been used for the treatment of pain. In a report published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2010, investigators sized up 17 studies looking at the effectiveness of ear acupuncture’s in pain management. It was concluded that ear acupuncture is effective for relieving pain, especially acute and postoperative pain.
Stimulation of auricular acupoints with needles effectively help to lose weight. A 2017 meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled studies found that ear acupuncture improved body mass index, reduce fat and waist circumference in obese adults. In another research, it was found that auricular acupuncture help reduce appetite by suppressing ghrelin production- a hormon stimulates food intake. Besides, there was a statistically significant difference of change in body weight in auricular acupuncture groups and the control group (4). In 2020, research showed that auricular acupuncture was related to a greater improvement in lipid profile, BMI, immune parameters and blood pressure. (5)
Ear acupuncture Side Effects and Risks
Ear acupuncture has almost no side-effect and is very low-risk treatment. A systematic review of adverse events reported in more than 40 published research papers found no serious side effects at all. The most common unwanted effect were dizziness, pain, skin irritation, and minor bleeding. (2)
Contraindications for ear acupuncture include epilepsy, exhausted, hemophilia, and allergy to metal.
How does it look like ear acupuncture treatment?
At Vietkimhong Clinic, we recommend ear acupuncture to complement body acupuncture and implant acupuncture. You do not have to prepare nothing before the treatment. Dr. Hong will first examine your medical records, your pulse, tonge, and ears. According to treatment plan, the doctor will place 2 to 4 sterile super thin needle into specific points of your ear. The needles stay there for one week. Time of procedure is only 2 to 3 minutes and you feel almost no pain. During that one week, you can wash your face, hair as usual and should dry your ears after washing.
How many session are necessary to achieve effect?
The number of treatment depends on your age, your problems and how serious they are, also on how well your body response to acupuncture. In general, it is recommended to have ear acupuncture once in a week for a course of 8 to 10 weeks, to achieve the treatment goal.
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- Auricular acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility, Gerhard et al, Gynecol Endocrinol, 1992 Sep;6(3):171-81. doi: 10.3109/09513599209015552https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1442162/
- The effects of auricular acupuncture on weight reduction and feeding-related cytokines: a pilot study, Hisayuki Ito et al, BMJ Open Gastroenterol. 2015; 2(1): e000013. doi: 10.1136/bmjgast-2014-000013
- Effect of body and ear acupuncture on obesity, Hamid Abdi et al, Obesity Medicine, Volume 19, September 2020, 100257, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2451847620300774