If you’re interested in using ear acupuncture (also known as auriculotherapy or ear acupressure) at home among your loved ones, you may have a few questions about what, where and how to treat.
And you’ve come to the right place for answers! In this blog post, we’ll address the answers to common questions about using ear acupuncture at home—including safety and dosage considerations, treatment methods, and tools to make your treatment more effective and accurate. If you’d like to learn more about ear acupuncture before you dig into how to treat, click here.
Do I Need a License to Perform Auriculotherapy?
Here in the United States, each state is responsible for setting licensing rules for acupuncture practice, and the states all vary slightly in licensing requirements. Similarly, ear acupuncture is regulated slightly differently in each of the states. Some states may require specific training and credentials, while others do not. Types of treatment applied may also be differently regulated. For example, non-invasive treatment with electrical stimulation may be open to anyone, whereas needle insertion may only be allowed with acupuncture licensure.
For the purposes of this blog, we’re sticking with safe, non-invasive methods that you can perform on yourself or a loved one. If you are concerned about licensure, please contact the regulatory authority in your state. Above all, please don’t hold yourself out as a practitioner, taking money for treatment, unless you have verified you are within the law in your particular location.
How Do I Know What to Treat?
The starting point to treat any condition with auriculotherapy is to know which points are applicable to the condition you are treating. Because there are literally hundreds of points on the ear, each with a different purpose, finding precisely the right points is a must.
To help get you started, we created posts for each of the top 10 conditions to treat with ear acupuncture. You can click on a condition below to learn more about how you can use ear acupuncture to benefit!
Auriculo 360: Your Complete Reference Software
If you’re looking for a robust reference aid, complete with all the points, protocols and conditions you’ll need to confidently treat every time, you need the Auriculo 360 ear acupuncture reference software. In addition to illustrations and explanations of over 300 auricular points, the software also provides one-click access to 180 condition-specific, 3D protocol charts that have been exhaustively researched and perfectly illustrated. The ear illustration can be rotated, moved and zoomed with simple mouse (or touch) controls to properly show every point, including hidden and covered points. There simply isn’t a faster or easier way to locate the high-quality information you need for the condition you’re treating.
In addition, the software gives you the ability to flip each chart from left to right, making point location much easier. Since you can screenshot and print any protocol, you have a ready source for any printed chart you may need. The Auriculo 360 software is available at http://www.Auriculo360.com
Whether you use books, wall charts, or software, you need to have access to high-quality auricular charts to know what to treat.
The best part is Auriculo 360 was designed to be incredibly affordable, with options less than $11 per month when paid annually.
Get a FREE TRIAL of Auriculo 360 right now:
Scanning for Active Points
An important principle of auriculotherapy is to focus on the points that are “Active.” An active point has some sort of energetic disturbance, or an indication that it needs to be treated.
Although there are many ways to look for active points, scanning is easily accomplished with an electrical testing device, though this is an advanced method that will require some practice and training. My favorite device is the Pointoselect Digital. This device has a sensing mode that precisely locates areas of altered energetic properties in the ear.
The procedure is to scan each of the points on the chart, looking for active points.
You’ll notice some points are labeled in ALL CAPS. These points are called Master Points, and have a system-wide effect. It’s generally best to scan and treat these points before the others on the chart.
How to Detect Active Points
Here are a few of the indicators that a point is “active,” or in other words, ready to receive treatment.
- Color Change: Inspect the skin for changes in color at the point you are examining. Is there increased redness? Lack of color? A different color than the surrounding skin? A dry or flaky patch? These are all indications of an active point.
- Skin structure abnormalities: Carefully look and feel for changes in skin structure. A raised bump or hard nodule, dryness, roughness or moisture may indicate the active point.
- Tenderness: Is the point tender to the touch? A mechanical point detector with a round probe tip is very useful for detecting tenderness in the auricle. The tip should be small and blunt—small so that you can locate a point easily, and blunt so that you do not cause damage to the ear with pressure. A rounded ball tip is the most comfortable. You can purchase one here.
- Electronic Location: High-quality auricular treatment devices have a measurement mode to electronically locate active points, and a treatment mode to treat the points once they are located. Active points will show lower electrical resistance than surrounding tissue. This is a more advanced process, but certainly worth it for those who are serious about auriculotherapy. As I mentioned above, my favorite microcurrent device is the Pointoselect Digital. You can get more information at www.pointoselect.com.
For beginners, we recommend starting with a manual probe. It will help you locate points and leave a small indentation on the ear that will help you place the seed properly. You can purchase one here.
NOTE: If you cannot detect any active points related to the condition you are treating, proceed with treating the Master Points indicated on the chart, and then re- check the condition-specific points. Often, treating the Master Points will activate other points on the ear. Treating the Master Points first is almost always the best place to start.
Where to Treat
Which ear? It is not always necessary or even desirable to treat both ears in the same session. Generally, excellent results will be obtained by treating just one ear.
I generally start with the ear on the side of the patient’s dominant hand. So if the patient is right handed, I start with the right ear. Then, the next time I treat, it will be on the left ear, alternating ears each treatment session. however, if a complaint is localized on one side of the body, it may make more sense to treat the ear on the same side of the body as the complaint.
How to Treat
Treatment by electrical stimulation is convenient, effective and powerful. Many users report better pain and addiction relief from electrical stimulation than from any other treatment method. Electrical stimulation also offers the advantages of being non-invasive, fast and clinically convenient to perform.
Electrical instruments developed specifically for auriculotherapy provide point location functions to precisely locate active points and then provide gentle, safe electrical stimulation to treat the points when they are located. The ideal instrument switches from location to stimulation without being removed from the point at all, so location and treatment proceed uninterrupted.
Cautions: Electrical stimulation should not be used in certain situations, including implanted electrical devices such as pacemakers. Please read and follow the instructions from the manufacturer of your electrical device for proper safety precautions. Never use an electrical stimulator in a manor inconsistent with the labeling or manufacturer’s instructions.
Above all, make sure you know how to use the device properly. Through the years, I’ve encountered many users who are using their device incorrectly and getting no effect because they didn’t read the manual or get any training to use their device. Don’t let this be you!
Once an active point has been located, proper treatment requires the application of the appropriate type and duration of electrical stimulation to achieve the desired results. The following guidelines apply:
Duration is generally 10-30 seconds per point (I prefer 15 seconds). Frequency is generally 10 Hz, or specific to the zone of the ear being treated (more info on that in this blog post, here.) Intensity is generally set to patient tolerance (it should not hurt).
Focused Pressure Treatment
Focused pressure to the ear is easily provided by a ball-tip metal ear probe. An added benefit of this technique is that the same instrument may be used for both examination and treatment. The following is an illustration of a typical ear probe (note the ball tip):
The rounded tip of the probe allows for comfortable gliding over the surface of the auricle during examination. Tender points are located with mild pressure, and treatment is provided by focused pressure on each tender point for 15-30 seconds. The treatment will leave a small, temporary indentation in the skin, which will disappear after an hour or two.
You may find that tender points are excruciatingly painful with even minimal pressure from the probe, so be gentle. There’s no need to cause unnecessary pain, and excessive pressure is not required for effective treatment.
Important: Never use a pointed or sharp probe in the ear, as the skin may be broken by the instrument. Only use the special ball-tip probe designed for auriculotherapy.
Another effective form of non-invasive stimulation is laser light. It is fast, safe and comfortable, and often takes effect very rapidly. The most commonly used wavelength is 635nm in the red spectrum. High power is not required, and even an affordable 5mW laser only requires 10-15 seconds per point.
Because the laser housing does not need to contact the skin, this form of treatment carries no risk of infection or contamination, and can even be used over broken skin, sores, etc.
When using a laser, remember to prevent laser light from entering the subject’s eyes or your own eyes.
Note: Typical business laser pointers are not suitable for auriculotherapy use and provide the wrong wavelength and power. Be sure your laser is properly chosen for this type of treatment. You can get more information on lasers at www.lasersforacupuncture.com.
Long-duration, focused pressure to auricular points is often accomplished by means of ear seeds or pellets attached to an adhesive strip. These seeds or pellets are placed on the auricular point and held in place by the adhesive strip which covers the pellet. The light, but consistent pressure sends a constant signal to your nervous system. Ear seeds and pellets can remain in place for several days.
The longer duration of treatment over the course of several days provides a more stimulatory effect over a longer period than other treatments. For added effect, press on the pellets a few times per day. For weight control, you may find it helpful to press on the pellets when you have a food craving.
We recommend Auriculo 360 brand ear seeds and premium pellets. The ear seeds are vaccaria seeds on adhesive squares that stay in place for days. They also carry gold and crystal premium pellets for some fun ear bling!
Step-by-Step Ear Seed/Pellet Treatment
- For best results use the Auriculo 360 3D reference app to locate applicable ear acupuncture points for a given condition. You can do this right on your Android or Apple smartphone using the Auriculo 360 app.
- Then, treat the suggested points by placing Auriculo 360 brand ear seeds or pellets, using tweezers, on the points recommended by Auriculo 360 for your condition.
- Leave the seeds or pellets on your ear for up to a week, though they may come off on their own after a few days.
- Follow the instructions on the ear seed or pellet packages for application, and be sure to always clean the ear before placing seeds or pellets so they adhere correctly!
Get a FREE TRIAL of Auriculo 360 right now:
Here’s How to Get Started!
If you’re a beginner, by far the easiest way to get started with auriculotherapy is to treat a few points each day with ear seeds. Point Zero, Shen Men and Sympathetic Autonomic Point are three amazing points to start with! They have been traditionally used to promote balance, homeostasis, a sense of wellbeing, and an overall feeling of clarity and calm. You can read more about those three points here. Try treating those three points, leave the seeds on for a day or two, and note how you feel. Then you can move on to experimenting with more advanced points and protocols.
Get Access to Hundreds more Auricular Points & Protocols in the Auriculo 360 App!
There are hundreds more points and protocols waiting in the Auriculo 360 app!
We hope these three tiny points will make a difference in your journey.
Ear Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to help the body heal and thrive, naturally. For non-life-threatening conditions and wellness care, it can be a powerful holistic addition to your at-home wellness routine, or a great adjunct treatment to add to your professional practice!
Or, check out Auriculo 360 brand ear seeds and pellets here, so you can treat yourself at home!
Thanks For Reading!
-The “Ear Acupuncture For” Team