A Window to the Brain: Auricular Methods in Healthcare Today

The microsystem of the ear offers a window to the brain — insight to the emotional and physical states of the body.[1] The ear presents medical professionals (not just acupuncturists) the opportunity for neuromodulation and treatment, whether by electro-stimulation, low level laser therapy, acupressure or acupuncture. Auricular methods are applied in medical practices worldwide and recognized by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA), the World Health Organization (WHO),[2] and other institutional bodies.


8 Examples in various healthcare settings

Even this shortlist, shows the breadth of healthcare & wellness settings in which auricular methods benefit patients — see the following 8 examples below:
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Auricular Medicine Defined: This medicine is among several analogous fields of auricular methods that use the microsystem of the ear, such as Auriculotherapy, Auricular Stimulation Procedures, and Ear Acupuncture to treat the entire body. These fields include protocol-based techniques (i.e. Battlefield Acupuncture and AcuDetox), therapies (i.e. Auriculotherapy), and methods directly originated from the practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) body acupuncture. Auricular Medicine, however, goes well beyond protocols, therapeutics and ear acupuncture. With Vascular Autonomic Signal (VAS) palpation, diagnostic and therapeutic laser, and other clinical tools, Auricular Medicine is used to assess reflex zones for specific identification, prioritization and treatment of the dynamic neural states that otherwise prevent healing.

University Medical Centers & Private Hospitals

UC Health and Hadassah Medical Center are examples of leading hospitals applying auricular methods for integrative healthcare.

Military
Field Medicine

U.S. Army Health Clinic Traumatic Brain Injury Department trains nurses, medics and physicians at the U.S. Army Health Clinic in the auricular methods of Battlefield Acupuncture (photo: ©U.S. Army)

Government
Healthcare Systems

Hospitals of the Department of Veterans Affairs (DoVA), such as the Durham VA, are using auricular acupuncture to reduce opioids in the management of pain and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.

Pain Management
Centers

Whether at the Defense & Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Management or the Vanderbilt Interventional Pain Clinic, auricular methods are proven effective for chronic pain. (photo: ©Susan Urmy)

Healthcare Networks and Community-based Healthcare Delivery 

The University Health Network of Toronto Addictions Program and organizations such as People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture, use auricular methods in the treatment of substance abuse and more.

Research
for Development of
New Therapeutics

In fields such as neurology and psychology, research into interception has applied Vagus Nerve Stimulation via the ear to modulate bodily signals. Such research has led, and continues to lead, to new developments in medical devices and therapies. 

Rehabilitation and
Long-Term Care
Facilities

Auricular methods, even if only protocol-based, as offered (for example) in the Theodor Fliedner Stiftung, offer treatment for pain, stress, addiction, insomnia and more — and overall improvement in quality of life.

Health Clinics — from Physiotherapy to Psychiatry

From Connecticut (i.e. Yale School of Medicine SATU Clinic) to clinics in Germany using therapeutic laser, auricular methods are helping patients in clinics across various fields of healthcare and wellness practice.

Seasoned practitioners choose CIAM training to discover new pathways for healing...

particularly for therapy resistant patients. By integrating Auricular Medicine into their practice, they have a new tool to support insights and treatment for an improved healing process.
How? The deep insight for prioritized treatment of what ails the entire body has its basis in neurology. “The ear, the auricle, is a window to the brain, showing us a dynamic, current reflection of what is happening in the whole brain, making the structures and functions of the person visible and accessible to the trained practitioner.”[1] (p.1) As such, Auricular Medicine offers insight into, and a gateway for treatment of the central nervous system. It is a form of “non-invasive neuromodulation, meaning we can modulate deep regions of the brain - safely and precisely.”[1] (p.7)

This opportunity for neuromodulation is what makes Auricular Medicine a treatment of choice for a range of hard-to-treat conditions such as chronic pain, hormonal disorders, psychological trauma and stress disorders.

Bridging conventional and alternative medicine: energy, balance and health

Supportive of other
healing modalities

Advances in scientific research continue to bring once seemingly disparate modalities of medicine closer together. In particular, insights from neuroscience, cellular biology, and quantum sciences provide frameworks for understanding commonalities between conventional and alternative approaches. We are learning that, ultimately everything is energy.
Auricular Medicine offers a bridge amongst modalities due to the essential role of neuromodulation. By integrating auricular, you can identify and support interventions that stimulate energy homeostasis, or balance, thereby supporting an efficient healing process, as well as amplifying responsiveness to other healing modalities.

Integrative
and holistic

In the most simple terms, energy affects the way in which we exist in our environment (at peace or in disharmony), our physiological state (in balance or out of balance), and our consciousness or perception of reality (regulation of learning, memory and cognitive processes). Conventional medicine has shifted from a view of the human body as a machine with disparate moving parts (in which disease is isolated from overall health) to a view of the human body as an electro-chemically regulated entity (whose well being is considered holistically to include environment and state of mind). Whether we affect our physiology and psychology with nutrition, pharmaceuticals, acupuncture, yoga, or even spiritual practice, we are in essence just using different methods to achieve a common goal: an improved state of being — regulation of energy homeostasis.

Scientifically
Validated

Neuromodulation techniques implemented from the outer ear have been scientifically validated.[3] Decades of clinical application and research present Auricular Medicine as a window to the brain because of the ability to affect the central nervous system,[1] which is at the core of the regulation of energy homeostasis.[4] Everything is energy, and as such, everything also has a frequency. German Auricular Medicine, in particular because of its development of frequency-based methods, provides for sophisticated assessment and treatment insights. The use of frequencies to test substances for resonance against a patient’s somatotopy (the point-for-point correspondence of an area of the body to a specific point on the central nervous system) and interoception, enables practitioners to test the ideal location and frequency for treatment.

Integrate Auricular in your practice with comprehensive Auricular Medicine education

Since 2003, the Canadian Institute of Auricular Medicine (CIAM) has been a highly recognized continuing education provider — praised for its practical CORE Curriculum and endorsed by Dr. Beate Strittmatter, MD, Director of Education at the Deutsche Akademie für Akupunktur (DAA) as the “only systematic training of the DAA program in the English language offered worldwide.”
  • CIAM offers course completion certificates accepted for Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) by various professional associations (inquire with yours).
  • CIAM offers courses approved by NCCAOM as a Professional Development Activity (PDA) for continuing education credits
  • CIAM is recognized by massage therapy associations and offers courses approved by the Massage Therapists Association of Nova Scotia (MTANS) and the Massage Therapists' and Wholistic Practitioners' Association of the Maritimes (MTWPAM)
  • CIAM is recognized by Reimers & Janssen, a leading manufacturer of clinical-grade therapeutic lasers, as a continuing education provider for LLLT training. 
English language texts for Auricular Medicine include the internationally published Pocket Atlas based on the works of Dr. Frank Bahr and Dr. Paul Nogier...

Dr. Beate Strittmatter, MD

Dr. Beate Strittmatter, MD

...and the companion text for auricular practitioners, Auricular Medicine: Window to the Brain

Dr. Muriel Agnes, PhD, MAEd

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References:
[1] Agnes, Muriel. Auricular Medicine: Window to the Brain. Blurb, 2018
[2] Shang, C. Mechanism of Acupuncture - Beyond Neurohumoral Theory. Medical Acupuncture Journal. 2000; 11(2), 61-70.

[3] Mercante, B., et. al. “Auricular Neuromodulation: The Emerging Concept beyond the Stimulation of Vagus and Trigeminal Nerves.” Medicines, March (2018). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5874575/#__ffn_sectitle
[4] Luquet, S. "The central nervous system at the core of the regulation of energy homeostasis." Front BioSci School Ed, (2009). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19482713