The Astonishing Acupunctur e Syst em the Chinese Overlooked
It is estimated that over half of Americans take prescription medicine for chronic pain. This is a mind-boggling and disturbing statistic. It is a proven, sophisticated European-deve loped treatment approach, used worldwide to improve health and relieve pain throughout the body. exclusively through acupuncture points on the outer ear (auricle). It is quite different from traditional Chinese body acupuncture
The science of Auricular therapy has been well documented, internationally researched, and published in medical journals. Sadly, most American doctors are unfamiliar with it—even though it has been practiced worldwide for decades, with tremendous success. Auricular therapy has proven to bring pain relief and healing, in many cases, after all other medical interventions have failed.
In 1990, the Director General of the World Health Organization ( W H O) proclaimed that Auricular therapy is “probably the most developed and best docume nted, scientifically, of all the “micro-systems” of acupuncture and is the most practical and widely used.” The WHO lists 150 conditions for which Auricular therapy is appropriate.
Traditional “Western” medicine looks to the human ear as only an organ of hearing. Your outer ear however, has complicated nerve connections through which constant communication takes place between your ear, brain and the body. When there is a problem somewhere in your body, we can electrically detect ear acupuncture points corresponding to the organs or tissue involved. By treating these points by various means (discussed later), we energetically trigger or “jump start” a natural healing response.
Many factors may disrupt the flow of energy, which can have far-reaching consequences to our health. Energetic blockages are obstacles to the normal energy flow throughout the body. “Eastern medicine” acknowledges that your health depends upon energetic balance and stability of the “body-mind-spirit” axis. Modern research and technology is now scientifically verifying this principle that has been understood for thousands of years by many cultu res. Auricular therapy is at the forefront of the scientific energy medicine revolution. It is extremely safe and easy to have done.
The ear has been used as an approach to treating disease in various forms, dating back to ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome and Persia. The ancient Chinese used only a scattered array of acupuncture points on the ear for just a few health problems. The Chinese did NOT know that the ear could serve as an entire system of acupuncture.
Modern Auricular medicine was developed by award-winning, French neurologist, Paul Nogier, M.D. (1908-1996).
In the 1950's, Dr. Nogier noticed a strange scar on the upper ear of some of his patients. He found th at all of them had been treated for sciatica pain by a local practitioner, Madame Barrin. She had cauterized (intentionally burned) a specific area of the external ear in order to relieve their low back pain. She had no idea why or how it worked. Dr. Nogier conducte d a similar procedure on his own sciatica patients and found that their back pain was also reduced. He then tried other means of stimulating this "sciatica point," including the use of acupuncture needles, and found that they helped with the sciatic pain too. Dr. Nogier brilliantly took this observation and developed it into a comprehensive science.
Dr. Nogier hypothesized that if an area of the upper external ear is effective in treating low back pain, maybe other parts of the ear could treat other parts of the body.
Nogier's research revealed that the ear is energetically connected to the entire body: a “micro-sy stem.” This means that the outer ear is a tiny microcosm of living en ergy—a comprehensive acupuncture system representing the entire body.
Every structure of the human body could be mapped on the outer ear — the auricle. He observed that the ear could be compared to an upside-down human fetus; the head represented by the lower ear lobe, the feet at the top of the ear, and the rest of the body in-between. This model was first presented in France in 1957, then spread to Germany, and finally was translated into Chinese. In 195 8 the Ch inese adopted this model, and acknowledged Nogier as the “Father of Auricular Therapy.”
Several years later, Dr. Nogier and his research team discovered that the surface of the ear is actually a 3-dimensional, holographic energetic projector of the human anatomy and physiology.
A hologram is a 3-dimensional image of an object, which contains the information of the object itself… and in EVERY PART of itself. Dennis Gabor theorized the concept of holography in 1947. Leith and Upatniecks introduced it practically by 1964.
Nogier realized that the ear at all times, presents us with a 3-dimensional “image” created by energy interference patterns. This in turn, meant that there must be three distinct mappings (holographic energy phases) of the body which exist on the ear, depending upon the nature of the health condition (acute, chronic or degenerative). There isn't just one zone or point on the ear for each organ or tissue; there are 3 different areas to consider.
Unfortunately, few practitioners have mastered Nogier’s significa ntly more sophisticated and complex 3-phase approach to auricular therapy. Many practitioners have been satisfied with the one-phase (ear mapping) approach.
Nogier's work has been maintained and furthered by research of anesthesiologist, Medical Acupuncturist and homeopathy authority, Nader Soliman, M.D. Dr. Foglia is proud and privileged to have received training from Dr. Soliman, as well as his friend and colleague, Dr. Donald Liebell (Virginia Beach), and to be able to carry on the work of Dr. Paul Nogier, to serve Long Island.
"How Does Auricular Therapy Work?"
What is most fascinating is the fact that there are no direct nerve connections between the ear and the rest of the body. The nerves from the ear however, connect to reflex centers in the brain, which send neurological reflex messages to the spinal cord and then to nerves connecting to the corresponding part of the body.
Imagine your brain as a computer. Inside this computer is a “map” of the entire body. This map is projected onto your EAR through your nervous system. Finding the points on the map is like using a computer’s keyboard or mouse to gain entrance into the system. With Auricular therapy we can energetically treat a number of painful conditions through the “brain’s computer.”
Some scientists say that pain relief from Auricular therapy comes from the release of endorphins into the blood. Endorphins are your body’s natural pain relieving chemicals. They are created by your brain, but they are similar in chemistry to opiate drugs, like morphine. Proof of this mechanism has come in the form of fascinating experiments, which revealed that drugs that block the effects of opiate drugs, also block the pain relieving effects of Auricular therapy.
From a Traditional Oriental Medicine perspective, pain is caused by blockage of Qi or Chi (pronounced chee) energy in the acupuncture meridian channels, thus creating an imbalance in the total body (macro-system) acupuncture system. By stimulating specific ear points in the auricular micro-system, two-directional connections are activated in the body macro-system which leads to a balancing of energy and an increase flow of Qi.
Modern science has proven what ancient cultures and millions of people have known all along: Acupuncture works! Technology such as Function MRI (fMRI) proves that ear acupuncture indeed triggers an effect in areas of the brain, specific to the corresponding zone on the ear.
Doctors and anybody in the lay public, who don't "belie v e in" Auricular Therapy must realize that it is not an "unproven" or mystical treatment approach. Physicians would be wise to actually read the vast array of published medical research on the subject of Auricular Therapy, and acupuncture in general. In the scheme of history, acupuncture has been safely and effectively used long before the first pharmaceutical drug was patented and sold.
Auricular Therapy Around the World
A cupuncture has been practiced in Asia for thousands of years, but only a few specific points were used on the ear; not as an entire acupuncture system. In November of 1997, a consensus panel of the U.S National Institutes of Health (NIH) gave conditional approval of the practice of acupuncture. They included an evaluation of those studies that supported the use of ear acupuncture for pain relief and addiction treatment (quitting smoking, drugs, alcohol).
therapy has been used in continental Europe for the past 40 years. The body of international research supporting it is quite impressive. Research studies in China and the USA verified the scientific accuracy of auricular diagnosis:
In China the ear points of over 2,000 patients were assessed recording which points correlated with certain diseases and which ear points lead to reduction of medical symptoms.
At UCLA 75% accuracy was achieved in correctly diagnosing the location of the musculoskeletal pain problems of 40 patients. Expert panels were formed by the World Health Organization leading to international standardization of identification of ear reflex points.
Auricular acupuncture has even been used to treat pain for cancer patients when prescription medicine was ineffective. A research study involving 90 cancer patients was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (Vol 21, Issue 22 (November), 2003: 4120-4126). The scientists concluded that there was a clear benefit from auricular treatment for cancer related pain.
Another example is Chinese medical research published in the journal, Zhongguo Zhen Jiu (2007 Feb;27(2):112-4). This study revealed success in relieving lower back pain. Studies have revealed auricular treatment’s success with dealing with drug and nicotine addiction.
"What’s the difference between
EAR and body acupuncture?"
Body acupuncture works with fixed meridians —channels which are exactly mapped and defined in the body, as well as fixed acupuncture points situated along these meridians. They can always be detected because they are always electrically active.
Auricular therapy (3-phase ear acupuncture) is a specialized acupuncture “microsystem” of the entire human body, which involves diagnosis of electrically active acupuncture points, which are ONLY detectable if there is something wrong in the body. Many consider this to be an advantage that Auricular Therapy has over traditional body acupuncture.
Auricular therapy can be administered in several ways. Various types of specialized acupuncture needles can be used, although it can be done needle-free. Needle-free methods include use of electrical or laser stimulation, specialized pressure pellets made from gold, silver, steel or herbal seeds, as well as magnets, and manual pressure. Dr. Foglia utilizes the needle-free methods in his practice. The choice of which materials to use is case dependent.
Electrical Ear Acupuncture Point Detection
Traditional acupuncture involves placement of needles in "meridian" points throughout the body, where they're spaced w idely apart. Auricular points are only a few millimeters or less from each other. In ancient China they didn't have electrical point locators.
Current technology enables modern Auricular practitioners to locate points with amazing precision. The device is used to detect increased electrical skin conductivity, which is found at an electrically active point.
The increase in electrical conductivity correlates exactly with a problem in the corresponding part of the body. The most sophisticated instruments also detect polarity of active points, which tells the doctor what type of treatment is needed. The same instrument can provide electrical acupuncture point treatment:
Ear Electrical Acupuncture Point Stimulation
Most people don't feel anything at all with this micro-current electrical stimulation device. Each point is treated from 10 to 120 seconds. Some notice a mild electrical sensation.
Auricular Therapy Acupressure Seeds & Pellets
Some people are fearful of needles. This is no problem, since special herbal seeds or metal pellets mounted on a "band-aid" type material provide outstanding effects. Dr. Foglia provides these as one of several opti ons, in conjunction with electrical stimulation.
Once an activ e poin t i s determined using the acupuncture poin t det ector, pellets can be placed on the ear. A special non-toxic medical adhesive is sometimes used to help them stick as long as possible.
Many Auricular specialists think ear acupuncture has an advantage over traditional full-body acupuncture because these semi-per manent needles or pellets enable you to have constant ongoing stimulation of the points detected. A sessio n of traditional needle acupuncture ends when the needles are removed.
"What Does Auricular Therapy Feel Like?"
You don’t feel much at all. If pellets or seeds are used, you’ll feel some pressure and that’s it. The electro-therapy instrument is used to scan the necessary regions of your ear to locate the area for placement. Once each point is found, it is treated electrically prior to the application of a seed, metal pellet or acupuncture needle.
"How many treatment sessions are necessary?"
Frequency is extremely case dependent. There is no set number of treatments for any health condition treated through Auricular Therapy. It depends on what is being treated. If one is careful to not wash or rub off the seeds or pellets, treatment is continual for several weeks. Some conditions require multiple treatments spread over time. Electrical stimulation treatments may be done more frequently.
"How long is a typical treatment session?"
A typical treatment, which includes evaluation, electrical stimulation, seed, or pellet placement requires 10-15 minutes, depending on your needs. Auricular Therapy is included as part of your evaluation if you are seeking complex homeopathic care.
"How fast are results?"
The range of responses is of course, varied. It is common that a patient suffering from severe pain will notice mild to marked reduction of pain after or even during the first session. This reduction in their pain experience can actually improve for the next several hours to weeks after treatment. Like any treatment, its effectiveness depends on the severity and/or duration of the condition treated, extent of damage, etc. It’s important to understand that the goal of auricular therapy is to detect energy imbalances in your body… and “jumpstart” normal function.
One does NOT need to keep ear pellets in permanently. Some patients can have one application to eliminate a problem. Others may require several different patterns of points to treat different areas of the body over time.
"Are there any reasons NOT to have Auricular Therapy?"
As with other forms of traditional acupuncture, there are few reasons to avoid auricular therapy. Also, pain is an important indicator of deeper problems in some cases. It is important not to treat any pain needed to diagnose an underlying problem. We shouldn’t treat any pain needed to limit range of movement of an injured area of the body. Nor should we use electrical treatment on women who are pregnant, as is the case for stimulation of ear points of patients with a cardiac pace maker. Dr. Foglia does NOT use Auricular Therapy as a replacement for necessary traditional medical care. It is a form of complementary medicine only.
"Are there any potential side effects from Auricular Therapy?"
Because tenderness of ear points is one of the primary diagnostic features of this method, soreness on the ear points can sometimes continue for a while after the treatment. Also, in the case of a chronic condition, one may experience a “retracing” of symptoms. In other words, in some cases a patient may feel their body going through symptoms that took place during a condition’s development—a reversal of symptoms, rather than an immediate pain relief. Remember that "Eastern" medicine seeks to trigger natural healing responses, rather than mask symptoms.
"Can I Get Addicted to Auricular Therapy?"
No. Auricular Therapy is a non-addictive healing tool that you can use in your healing, revitalization, recovery, and in your life. You may become ACCUSTOMED to the benefits that ear acupuncture offers and look forward to treatments much in the same way that people look forward to chiropractic adjustments, exercise, good nutrition, etc. Sure, you may seek Auricular therapy as an ongoing means of naturally treating problems or injuries should they come up. Dr. Foglia family utilizes this phenomenal health approach as part of our preventative and naturally curative lifestyle.
"What happens if my seeds, pellets or needles fall off?"
Auricular therapy is a phenomenal pain-relieving, natural health approach. It’s promising to discover that more Americans are embracing energy medicine with open arms. My patients no longer view these treatment techniques and practices as “alternative” at all. One might wonder, “alternative” to what? Drugs and surgery? It seems that the term “alternative” might suggest such practices are inferior, weird, unproven or unscientific. If one has such treatments only once traditional American medicine has failed, then perhaps they are appropriately named. Practices such as acupuncture, including Auricular therapy are standard practices in many nations worldwide—nations healthier and longer lived than the United States.