by Deoki grade 5 writer
Han Sung Jun grade 4 writer
Moon, Wonkyung grade 3 writer
& Jung Da Hye grade 2 writer
A. What is Ear Acupuncture?
a. The Concept of Ear Acupuncture
Ear acupuncture is very special acupuncture treatment that shows excellent effect on various kinds of pains and chronic diseases only by applying acupuncture on the 270 acu-points of the ear. This treatment is based on the system theory, one of the basic principle of Traditional Korean Medicine (in the following, TKM). Today, ear acupuncture is formally registered on WHO and also the efficacy is internationally recognized. This treatment is also well known as 'Auricular therapy', 'Ear acupuncture' or 'Ear needling' but the formal name established by WHO is 'Ear acupuncture', 'Ear acupuncture therapy' and 'Auriculo acupuncture'.
There are several methods of Auriculo acupuncture. You can apply an acupuncture of general size on the acu-points and maintain it for about 15 minutes. You can also attach a needle of very small size(0.1~0.2cm) fixed on stickers. Just attach the sticker on the specific area of the ear, maintain this acu-sticker for 2~3 days (it doesn't disturb your everyday life). Another method is to rub or pull with pressure the acu-points using hands, fingers, or massaging tools. The most well known and utilized method is acu-stickers. In the following, we will discuss only about this method.
b. The History of Ear Acupuncture
The record of ear acupuncture is shown in the traditional chinese medicine classic text 'Huangdi's Internal Classic (黃帝內經)'. Also, there is 'the map of ear acu point' describing acu-points of the ear at Ming(明) dynasty. At Persia, they pierced a little hole and took earrings for beauty in old times. By this customs, they had some effect on the ophthalmic and urinary diseases. However the present ear acupuncture system is not very old. French doctor P. Nogier heard that the hipbone neuralgia patient showed much effect when burning the earlobe. After this discovery, he made a report with many researches and clinical tests and this therapy has been approved by the international acupuncture institute held in France in 1965. Thanks to the lively researches on ear acupuncture, the basic text of 'Ear acupuncture international standardization' was permitted in 1987. The fact that ear acupuncture is authorized by the formal medical science is worthy of notice. Recently, with the growing interest in traditional medicine internationally, the studies and clinical practices of auriculo acupuncture is increasing.
c. Merits and Demerits of Ear Acupuncture.
What is the reason that we use Ear acupuncture theory that has some differences with general acupuncture? Ear acupuncture therapy has other merits comparing with general acupuncture therapy. The most important point is the degree of pain. In clinical practices, the most frequently used size of needles range from 0.3cm to 4cm. Sometimes, the use of these needles can cause serious pain on specific acu-points. But our ear has less neural innervation than other organs. Therefore, it is not painful or uncomfortable to attach stickers with very tiny needles on the ear. We can get the desired effects by this very weak stimulus for long time even in our daily life.
Moreover Ear acupuncture has little side effect compared with general acupuncture when treating a hypertensive and a hypersensitive patient. It is because the size and location of the acu-points in Ear acupuncture is different from general acupuncture. Therefore, it can reduce the aversion to acupuncture and build up positive recognition : the Ear acupuncture can be a very effective way to treat the patients who have fear about acupuncture.
However, like any other medical methods, Ear acupuncture has some demerits. First, accurate connection between acu-points and other body organs is not established yet. Currently, Ear acupuncture asserts that ear regions and body regions are matched by the reason of 'the map of ear acu-point', describing the ear as a crouching fetus. But there are some controversies because this concept shows too much acupuncture points comparing with the size of the ear, so it is difficult to distinguish acu-points. Also, in the meridian theory that bases on 12 meridians and collaterals, it is already said that meridians and collaterals have acupuncture points on the ear. But the same acu-point has different effects in the meridian theory compared to Ear acupuncture theory. The generalization of the effects of acu-points is required.
B. Mechanism of Ear Acupuncture.
Holism ― a viewpoint where every part of the body is combined together to perform a unified function. It is considered to be more important than individual visceral function ― constitutes a huge part of TKM theory. According to holism, the human body cannot function properly or even survive if some parts of the body is left out. Thus, holism emphasizes the cooperation of organs. Moreover, holism holds a view that the function resulting from the cooperation of the whole body is concentrated in certain parts of the body. Apparently, this very point of view can be seen in the treatment called Ear acupuncture. The mechanism of ear acupuncture is as follows.
Ear acupuncture, also known as auricular acupuncture, has its basis on the concept that the ear reflects the whole body, an approach referred to as being holistic. It literally means that the ear contains the entire human body, and what you need is only to stimulate the ear in order to cure certain parts of the body. There are over 100 acupuncture points on the external ear which relate to practically all parts of the body. The lobe of the ear corresponds to the head, the cartilage to the spine, and the upper part of the pinna to the legs, arms, and wrists. The inside corresponds to the five viscera and six bowels. Therefere, the acupuncture points on the ear help to regulate one's internal organs and structures. (Refer to the picture below for more information on acupoint-organ correspondence.)
The ear map above, first developed by Dr. Nogier, a French physician, is based upon the inverted fetus concept. Dr. Nogier designed this map, inspired by the fact that the shape of the ear resembles a fetus hanging upside down.
C. Application of Ear Acupuncture
Every people has different ear shape although everyone has same ear figure. If you compare child's ear with patient's ear, you can find some different points. Some different points, such as earwax, swelling, abnormal color(congestion, white spot), vessel, wrinkle, pain, depression, or deformation, means some indispositions of the body.
Currently, it is proved through clinical practices that Ear acupuncture has effect on nervous system·endocrine system disorders and it also relieves pain. Nowadays, you can anesthetize patient by Ear acupuncture. Moreover, this therapy is used to quit smoking, stop drinking and diet.
Ear acupuncture decreases appetite and therefore helps lose weight. To obtain this effect, attach acu-stickers on Shinmun(신문), Galjum(갈점), Gijum(기점), stomach, head point. If you want to quit smoking, stimulate Gijum(기점) and Galjum(갈점). Theses points reduce the desire of smoking. Shinmun(신문) is used to relax your mind and alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Don't forget to attach stickers on points that correspond to bronchi and head. You can abstain from drinking by stimulating liver point and stomach point. Moreover, if you stimulate Galjum(갈점), Gijum(기점), Shinmun(신문), liver and stomach point, you can not only reduce the desire of drinking but also recover health of your liver and stomach injured by alcohol.