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Ear Acupuncture: Pain Relief with or without the Needles

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Ear acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine. It is also known as auricular therapy or auricular acupuncture. 

Auricular acupuncture helps regulate the structures and functions of your body’s internal organs. It can help relieve pain and treat health conditions such as anxiety, stress, and arthritis.  

In auricular acupuncture, practitioners either use acupuncture needles, indwelling needles, or ear seeds. Applying an adequate amount of pressure on the needles or seeds stimulates specific acupuncture points around your ear.  

We have written about acupuncture and needles along with its many benefits. Ear acupuncture, however, has some unique features about it.

For instance, you might hear about indwelling needles and ear seeds the first time. 

ear acupuncture

Image source: U.S. Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford

What is ear acupuncture?

Ear acupuncture is a supplementary form of treatment to acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine. It normalizes the function of your body’s sense organs by stimulating the acupuncture points around your ear.

Acupuncture originally started in China thousands of years ago. However, it became popularized by a French neurologist named Paul Nogier who developed Ear Acupuncture in the 1950s. The type of acupuncture that he developed showed a correlation between different body parts and points on the ear; his style could be described as being similar to reflexology.

Auricular acupuncture involves inserting acupuncture needles into specific points of the ear

However, there is another method that uses plant seeds and indwelling needles. 

Acupuncturists place small seeds from the Vaccaria plant on your ear. Adhesive tapes keep the seeds on your ear for about a week.

FAQs on Ear Acupuncture

How does auricular acupuncture work?

Ear seeds and indwelling needles planted on your ear stimulate the acupoints or acupuncture points. Stimulation of acupuncture points triggers your body’s natural ability to relieve pain and normalize the dysfunction of your internal organs. 

ear acupuncture

Image source: sushiphotos | Flickr.com

What are the health benefits of auricular acupuncture?


A 2003 study about a type of auricle acupuncture that uses magnetic pearls to participants with insomnia yielded positive results. The results show a significant increase in both the quality and quantity of sleep.


In a study involving 35 patients with migraine showed remarkable improvements in pain and mood.  

Post-Surgery Pain

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a report about the effectiveness of auricular acupuncture in pain management. The authors concluded that ear acupuncture was effective in treating post-surgery pain.


A research conducted in 2010 showed that ear acupuncture was found to be effective in regulating bowel movement in patients with constipation.

Auricular acupuncture can also treat the following health conditions:
  • Low back pain
  • Headaches
  • Muscular rheumatism
  • Allergies 
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain

How long does auricular acupuncture last?

Acupuncturists commonly use indwelling needles for auricular acupuncture. These are short needles on an adhesive tape. Other names for indwelling needles are press-tacks, press needles or studs. They remain attached to your ear for 3 to 14 days. 

Is auricular acupuncture safe?

Yes, with a licensed practitioner it is a safe method of relieving pain and treating common health conditions.

In addition, it is effective on its own but it can also be combined with other healthcare methods.  It is best you discuss with your holistic doctor regarding particular ailments for such natural methods of treatment. 

The Takeaway

What differentiates auricular therapy from traditional acupuncture is the option of using indwelling needles and plant seeds on the ear specifically rather than the entire body. Still, this practice needs to be performed by a highly trained practitioner to get the desired results.  If you want to consider or know more about auricular acupuncture, you can contact us now for an appointment and initial consultation.

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