Auricular Acupuncture

acu_earThis type of acupuncture was developed in France in the 50s, and, subject to certain limitations, works.

A French neurologist, Dr. Paul Nogier, discovered and developed this procedure. It did not come from traditional Eastern medicine. The story goes that Dr. Nogier noticed that patients with certain ear cauterizations experienced relief from sciatica, a painful condition involving the sciatic nerve, a nerve found from the hips on down.

Apparently Nogier was not the type to leave stones unturned. He found that a fair variety of ailments could be relieved by stimulating certain spots on the ear.

A Couple of Case Histories

We were living in France in 2007. I was allergic to Paris, in particular the fumes from the ubiquitous diesel cars. Even if I popped down enough antihistamines to turn myself into a level-four zombie, I was still completely miserable. Someone recommended auricular acupuncture and I got an appointment. The practitioner was an M.D. and of the opinion that the procedure would relieve my problems. What happened was this: While feeling my pulse, she poked around on the cartilage of my ear. At certain spots, my pulse apparently dropped. At that spot she pushed a metal stud into my cartilage (ouch!) and another on the back side. The studs were the size of a capital “I,” noticeable, but not too. She did the same to the other ear, charged me 60 Euros, and sent me forth into the smog filled world. I was of the opinion that I had been had. I was with my wife and we decided to test the result immediately by having a drink on the Champs Elysees, which with its six lanes of traffic, promised to provide a acu-studsgood dose of diesel fumes. I had had no antihistamines and, other things being equal, would expect an uncontrollable bout of sneezing, tearing, and red eyes. To my utter astonishment, nothing happened. We sat there nearly an hour. No irritation, no allergy, and only a few odd looks from passers-by who happened to notice the punk-rock adornment on my ears. Yay. It worked—for a week. A week later, some of the studs had fallen out and my allergies were returning. I was supposed to have two more treatments, but our schedule would not permit it, so I do not know if it would have worked long term.

However, this same doctor did a similar procedure to my eleven-year-old daughter, but for a more serious problem. She was very cross-eyed to the extent that surgery was planned, but (fortunately) never performed. She had had corrective glasses all her life, but to little avail. Although there was an auricular acupuncture procedure for this, the doctor wasn’t at all sure it would work, but no harm to try. Again she was poking the ear while feeling the pulse. She put five pairs in each ear. And, instantly, no more crossed eyes. We could hardly believe it. Now this procedure stuck. It was repeated four or five times. However, all that was 10 years ago, and unless my daughter is really tired, there is no sign of crossed eyes. As far as we are concerned, it is a cure, a permanent one.

This worked after years of specialists had failed. No ophthalmologists have ever believed this story, but there it is.

What Can Be Cured?

Unlike the Chinese version, auricular acupuncture was always performed in a “Western medicine” culture. There were no Ying and Yang meridians or energy channels or other hard-to-pin-down items. On the other hand, the list of treatable ailments is fairly short. Allergies are one. Crossed eyes is apparently not always successful. The sciatic pain relief already mentioned would be a third. Auricular acupuncture has also been effective for reduction of other chronic pain, relief of nausea, and reduction of hypertension.

But How Does This Work?

This isn’t really known, and unfortunately this has caused a mystique to develop wherein the ear maps out an inverted fetus. This seems fanciful and causes the technique to be dismissed in some circles as “fairy tale medicine.” However, it does seem to work, and work repeatedly, and should not be categorized with other non-replicable techniques.

It is apparently the case that nerves run from various specific locations on the ear to areas of the brain that have to do with the maladies affected. The details still aren’t known, nor is there any obvious evolutionary or survival benefit. Just because we don’t know how it works doesn’t mean it doesn’t, and there is likewise no need to conjure up mystical theories.

Wouldn’t Pierced Ears Tend to Disrupt Things?


Decorative Acupuncture or Bad Idea?

Yes. And the doctor, much to my daughter’s chagrin, strongly advised against any ear piercings, as it would mean that possible future auricular therapies might be no longer be available.








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