Why I needle the ear

Why are you putting needles in my ear?

If you’ve come to see me, you may have gotten some needles placed in your ear, and I get this question frequently – “why the ear?”

Ear chart for auricular acupuncture showing musculoskeletal points.

Ear acupuncture, also known as auricular acupuncture is a self-contained microsystem that can affect the whole body. This microsystem, which maps all portions of the ear to specific parts of the body and internal organs, was originally described by a French physician, Dr. Paul Nogier, and has been further researched by Dr. Nader Soliman and many others.

If you take a look at this chart, you’ll see an overlay of the human body with the head at the ear lobe, and the feet at the top of the ear. Using this map (and other variations), we know where to treat the whole body via the ear.

I will typically inspect the ear for skin color, dry skin, anatomical variations, and ear lobe creases. Next, I’ll test the sensitivity of the ear with the use of an electrical point finder. Areas of the ear found to have increased sensitivity frequently correlate to areas of the body with clinical pathology. Then based on this and what you’ve told me about your condition, I know where on the ear to insert the needle.

Acupuncture needles placed in the ear stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which is the “rest and restore” part of your nervous system. Several nerves go through the ear including cervical plexus (the nerves in your neck), the trigeminal nerve (sensory nerves to your face), the vagus nerve (digestion, heart rate, immune system), facial nerve (muscles of the face), and glossopharyngeal (mouth and throat) nerve. I frequently treat things like Bells Palsy, facial tics, eye issues and other conditions by accessing these nerves in the ear.

One of the most widely used applications of auricular acupuncture is to treat drug addiction using the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol which was originally developed for opiate addiction. Auricular acupuncture protocols have also been developed specifically for use with military populations as well. The most widely used military specific auricular acupuncture protocol is the battlefield acupuncture protocol used for the treatment of pain.

I frequently add ear points to my regular acupuncture treatments for pain, stress, anxiety, digestion and other conditions. I also do a specialized allergy treatment called the Soliman Auricular Allergy Treatment (SAAT) where I insert tiny needles in the ear and they stay in place for 3-4weeks to address specific allergies like pollen, dust, mold, food allergies, and Alpha Gal (an allergy to meat caused by a tick bite). You can learn more about this treatment here.

So, now you know why I use the ear. If you have any questions, be sure to let me know.