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Auricular (Ear) Acupuncture and Ear Seeds

Auricular acupuncture is the insertion of tiny needles or the application of seeds or metal balls on your ear.  It is both a diagnostic system as well as a treatment system based on providing relief from physical and mental health problems. This is done through stimulation of specific points on the ear. Utilizing auricular acupuncture relieves pain and illness and seems to work on both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.  Groups of young cells in the ear contain information from the whole organism and create regional organization centers representing different parts of the body. These are activated in auricular acupuncture. Stimulation of a reflex point in the ear seems to relieve symptoms of distant pathologies.


Where it came from

Auricular acupuncture is likely to have originated in ancient China with Classical Acupuncture. It was mentioned in the ancient Chinese medical textbook, “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.” It was used in ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece and all of the Mediterranean area. Auricular acupuncture is a micro acupuncture technique similar to reflexology, and was described in France in 1950 by Paul Nogier.  Paul Nogier is considered the father of modern ear acupuncture.  Dr Nogier originated the concept of an inverted fetus map on the external ear.

ear with inverted fetus

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He developed this theory after noticing that some patients attending his clinic had a small scar from a burn on part of their ear. When he asked, he was told that a very small area of their ear had been cauterized by a Madame Barrin for treatment of sciatic pain—a treatment that had proven to be very rapid and effective. One of his first great insights was the recognition of the homunculus, ‘the man in the ear’, which is the representation and anatomical correlation of the inverted fetus in the ear. Points on the body, for example the knee, corresponded precisely with the fetal representation of the knee in the auricle. Auriculotherapy that follows Nogier's theory uses the ear to help determine whether the right and left hemispheres of the brain are functioning as a whole, whether there are specific neurological, musculo-skeletal or organ systems that are in imbalance, and whether there are any blockages to treatment, such as scar tissue or emotional disorders.

Using it Today

In 1990 the Director General of the World Health Organization stated at an international gathering that “auricular acupuncture is probably the most developed and best scientifically documented of all the Microsystems of Acupuncture and is the most practical and widely used.”


Auricular Acupuncture has been used widely and is probably best known in present day for treatment of pain, anxiety and addiction.  It has been utilized by the military to assist in treatment of PTSD and pain to minimize the use of opioids. Dr. Richard Niemtzow is responsible for developing Battlefield Acupuncture as an effort to streamline treatment to reduce pain in a fast paced environment like deployment.


Auricular acupuncture is performed using small and short needles placed in specific points on the ear. Often, to continue treatment benefits or to enable self care at home, tiny seeds or metal balls, held in place with sticky tape, are used in place of needles and enable people to safely take the treatment home with them.


Ask about auricular acupuncture at your next appointment or get an ear seed kit to do it yourself at home!

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