Healing art, auriculotherapy, is a safe intervention for a variety of conditions

Auriculotherapy, also known as ear acupuncture, has been used as a therapeutic technique for treating a wide variety of conditions. Researchers from the University of Porto in Portugal carried out a literature review to test its safety and effectiveness. Authors found that auriculotherapy is a safe and effective therapeutic technique for insomnia and pain. It is also helpful to people who want to quit smoking.

Auriculotherapy is a form of acupuncture that targets specific points on the ear. It can be performed with or without needles. In auriculotherapy, needles or a microcurrent stimulator is placed on reflex points outside the ear. When stimulated, these points send a message to the brain, depending on the location of the reflex point being treated. (Related: Auriculotherapy, or ear acupuncture, is an effective way of alleviating symptoms of knee arthritis.)

In conducting the review, the researchers critically analyzed published literature on auriculotherapy and assessed its effectiveness in treating health conditions. They collected a total of 14 reviews that were eligible based on the inclusion and exclusion criterions. The reviews were focused on the management of insomnia, quitting smoking, and pain.

Based on the data they have gathered, auriculotherapy appears to have positive effects on insomnia and pain. The data also show that auriculotherapy is safe with rare adverse risks.

Published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, these findings confirm that auriculotherapy is a safe and effective therapeutic technique for insomnia and pain.

Auriculotherapy and its other health benefits

Auriculotherapy is largely based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, but it was discovered and developed in the mid 20th century by Paul Nogier, a French scientist. Similar to regular acupuncture, auriculotherapy stimulates certain points on the ear to improve the flow of vital energy in the body and to restore balance within the internal organs. In traditional Chinese medicine, these are considered vital in treating illnesses and improving health. Researchers today have also looked at the potential benefits of ear acupuncture, such as:

  • Constipation: Research has reported that constipation can be treated with auriculotherapy. In a research review published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2010, researchers looked at 29 studies on the use of auriculotherapy in managing constipation. The findings have confirmed that the healing technique may help in the management of constipation.
  • Migraines: There is some evidence that auriculotherapy effectively relieves migraines. In a study published in the journal Acupuncture & Electro-Therapeutics Research in 2012, 35 individuals who suffered from migraines received auriculotherapy every week for two months. Results revealed that auriculotherapy treatments resulted in dramatic improvements in pain and mood.
  • Post-surgery pain: As mentioned in the review published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, auriculotherapy is effective in treating a variety of types of pain. This includes postoperative pain. In another research review, which was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2010, researchers looked at 17 studies on the effectiveness of ear acupuncture in pain management. They found that the healing technique effectively treats different types of pain, especially postoperative pain.

Why auriculotherapy is an effective pain reliever?

Auriculotherapy relieves pain by increasing the levels of endorphins and enkephalins in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid. These substances are natural pain-relieving biochemicals to fight pain. They are as effective as morphine in stopping pain. In addition, these types of chemicals play a role in improving one’s sense of well-being, which makes them beneficial to those who struggle with cravings and withdrawal.

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