Ear acupuncture, also known as auricular acupuncture, is a method of treating a variety of physiological and psychological health problems by the stimulation of certain acupuncture points on the external ear. Similar to classical body acupuncture, ear acupuncture was discovered in China over 5,000 years ago and is still widely used as an effective therapeutic method in Chinese medicine today.
The auricle of the ear is an unique microcosm that can display complete information about the whole body. The human body’s twelve yin and yang channels on the hands and feet all reach the ear either directly or indirectly. In "The Chapter of Verbal Enquiries" in Ling Shu (Spiritual Junctures), it says, "In the ear, all of the energy channels are put together." In "The Chapter of Essays on Words of Gold and Truth" in Su Wen (Questions of Simplicity), it says, "Red from the south goes to the heart, opens on the ear, hides spirit in the heart." So, we can tell one’s congenital physique from one’s ear color, high or low position, thickness, flat or round shape, and firmness. We may even be able to tell the pathologies of many generations from the ear’s shape and appearance.
How do we judge the actual situation of the internal organs by observing the ear’s color, shape, or thickness? In "The Chapter of Organs" in Ling Shu, it says, "If the ear is black and small, the kidney is small. If the ear is thick, the kidney is big. If the ear is high, the kidney is high. If the back of the ear falls then the kidney is low. If the ear is firm, the kidney is firm. If the ear is thin the kidney is weak. If the kidney is small then it is safe and difficult to be injured. If it is firm, it does not get sick. If the kidney is big, it is empty and an empty kidney causes deafness or tinnitus."
The distribution of acupuncture points on the ear auricle is like an inverse embryo with the head down and the hip up. The various positions on the body have corresponding points on the ear. It is not surprising to see the pathological changes of any position in the body from the ear. For example, a slanting wrinkle on the earlobe can be seen on a person with coronary disease, a ring-like hollow around the ear auricle, called a plum pattern, can be found on a lung cancer patient’s ear, a person with schizophrenia has indentation on the pinna of the ear. Even loss of a tooth will show up on the ear.
People usually misunderstand that Chinese medicine is capable of only treating and curing chronic illnesses. Actually, other than emergencies such as amputations and surgical organ removal because of serious internal bleeding, Chinese medicine is actually the best choice for many urgent and acute illnesses. This is because, 80 percent of patients who visit emergency rooms are forced to go there because of suffering from symptoms that cannot be controlled. The pains or the symptoms of the illnesses are beyond their tolerance level, and they cannot wait for an appointment that might be two or three months down the line. The patients feel helpless and have to seek urgent help from the emergency services. Acupuncture can promptly treat, control, and cure many acute illnesses and take patients out of danger.
It may be to one’s surprise that one of the major characteristics of ear acupuncture treatment is stopping pain with obvious curative effectiveness. In fact, using acupuncture treatment to treat acute diseases is not a new invention. It has a long history in China. Many such cases are documented extensively in ancient Chinese books. For example, Shi Ji: Bian Que Chronicles described how Bian Que, a famous Chinese doctor who lived during the Period of Warring States, used acupuncture to bring back a prince who had been pronounced dead for half a day. In the book Prescriptions for Emergency Cases written in the Eastern Ji Dynasty, Ge Hong described how to use acupuncture to bring people back from heart failure and other complicated, acute illnesses such as cholera. In the book Theories on the Root Causes of Various Diseases written in the Sui Dynasty, Chao Yuanfa wrote how to use acupuncture to treat stroke and other acute heart problems. In Essential Emergency Prescriptions, Sun Simiao of the Tang Dynasty wrote extensively on using acupuncture to treat acute diseases such as stroke, severe vomiting and diarrhea, urinary obstruction, uterine bleeding, lung problems, swollen midriff, snake bite, rabies, epilepsy, and other acute illnesses. He indicated that these treatments were highly successful in clinical applications.