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Auriculotherapy -also known as auricular therapy (ear acupuncture) - is a form of alternative medicine based on the idea that the ear is a microsystem, meaning that the entire body is represented on the auricle (or auricula, or pinna - the outer portion of the ear) in a similar fashion to reflexology (zone therapy) and iridology (iridodiagnosis), and that the entire body can be treated by stimulation of the surface of the ear exclusively.


In the 1950s, Dr. Paul Nogier noticed that a local healer (mme Barrin) in Lyon, France was treating sciatica by cauterizing an area of the ear, which prompted him to investigate the relationship between locations on the ear and human anatomy. Nogier said there was a somatotopic presentation of the inverted fetus in the ear, the anatomic regions of the fetus corresponding to specific zones of the ear. Nogier believed that pain in any part of the body could be relieved by either needling, cauterising, massaging or electrically stimulating the region of the ear that corresponded with the anatomical area of the pain. Nogier called this process auriculotherapy. It has been used as a treatment for pain and used in combined therapies to treat substance abuse (NADA protocol) [1][2].

Vascular Autonomic Sign

"Dr Nogier noticed that there was a distinct change in the amplitude and dimension of the pulse when certain points on the auricle were stimulated. This occurs consistently and is both repeatable and measurable by modern equipment. Dr Nogier called it the Vascular Autonomic Sign (VAS). Being able to detect the VAS on the radial pulse of (generally) the patients‘ left hand enables the practitioner to precisely determine the location of a point, whether there is a pathology in the region of the body that relates to specific points, and whether certain substances (foods, medicines, herbs, etc.) are indicated. Accurate employment of the VAS in diagnosis and treatment is essential to Auriculotherapy and Auriculomedicine."

Compared to acupuncture

  • auriculotherapy considers the ear to be a localized reflex system connected to the central nervous system (whereas ear acupuncture focuses on empirical acupoints known for their specific functions. acupuncture meridians) [3]
  • auriculotherapy . Whilst some assert that auriculotherapy is a needle-less treatment it is in fact performed using either needles, laser, massage or electrical stimulation at points precisely detected by the VAS or electrical detection. [4]

[5] Treatment (stimulation of the auricle) is usually by means of an acupuncture needle, electrical probe, or sometimes photobiomodulation (laser therapy).



Many widely differing auriculotherapy maps exist (examples: [6] [7]). Nogier first proposed a "somatotopic" map with the body appearing on the ear as an inverted fetus, with the head towards the lower lobule, the feet at the uppermost portion of the auricle, and the body in between; he subsequently produced three further "phase" diagrams providing additional and alternative sets of stimulation locations, in which the part or parts of the ear considered to represent a specific organ varies significantly depending on the "phase" of the ailment [8]. Some French system practitioners now use a more distorted representation of the body in the ear, more similar to the somatotopic representation on the cerebal cortex [1]. Chinese system diagrams place more emphasis on metaphorical names rather than anatomical locations.


  • 1980: A double blind study by Dr. Terry Olson published in the Journal Pain found a 75.2 percent correlation between standard medical diagnosis and diagnosis from solely auricular examination. The study concluded that "these results thus support the hypothesis that there is a somatotopoic organization of the body represented upon the human auricle" [9]
  • 1984: A controlled crossover study involving 36 patients suffering from chronic pain found that "...auriculotherapy is not an effective therapeutic procedure for chronic pain" [10]
  • 1990: A study published in the Journal of the South African Veterinary Association involved auriculotherapy treatment of 30 canine subjects with thoracolumbar intervertebral disc disease. Complete recovery occurred in 50 percent of the subjects, and some improvement occurred in an additional 23 percent. Twelve of the recovered dogs were monitored for 26 weeks after the conclusion of treatment, and four of the twelve relapsed within that time. [11]
  • 1999: A study in the Journal Acupuncture in Medicine "...found no evidence to support the concept that the body is represented on the ear"
  • 2006: A study published in the Oxford Journal of Human Reproduction involved 94 subjects and found that "[auriculotherapy] significantly reduces pain intensity and analgesic consumption [required for pain relief]... during oocyte aspiration in IVF treatment" and is additionally correlated with significantly reduced post-operative pain [12]


  • Soliman, N. "Soliman's Auricular Therapy Textbook". Authorhouse, Bloomington, Indiana,2007.
  • Soliman, N, "Soliman's Auricular Therapy Atlas". Alternative Medicine Seminars, Rockville, Maryland. 2006.
  • Jim Chalmers. 'Auriculotherapy: Modern ear acupuncture' (VAS Quote. Permission given)
  • Frank BL and Soliman, N. 'Auricular Therapy: A Comprehensive Text' Authorhouse, Bloomington, Indiana,2005.


  1. Rubach, Axel (2001). Principles of Ear Acupuncture. Thieme. 

Soliman, N. "Soliman's Auricular Therapy Textbook". Authorhouse, Bloomington, Indiana,2007.

Soliman, N, "Soliman's Auricular Therapy Atlas". Alternative Medicine Seminars, Rockville, Maryland. 2007.

Frank BL. Auricular Medicine and Auricular Therapy: A Practical Approach. Bloomington, IN, AuthorHouse, 2007.

Frank BL. The Layman's Guide to Auricular Therapy. Edmond, OK, Acupuncture Medical Arts, LLC, 2007.

Frank BL and Soliman NE. Atlas of Auricular Therapy and Auricular Medicine. Richardson, TX, Acupuncture Arts & Press, LLC, 2003.

Frank BL and Soliman NE. Pocket Atlas of Auricular Therapy and Auricular Medicine. Richardson, TX, Acupuncture Arts & Press, LLC, 2004.

Frank BL and Soliman NE. Auricular Therapy: A Comprehensive Text. Bloomington, IN, AuthorHouse, 2005.

Frank BL and Soliman NE. Auricular Therapy: A Comprehensive Text, COLOR Edition. Bloomington, IN, AuthorHouse, 2006.