In the third edition of this comprehensive book, the origins of auriculotherapy are traced to historic sources in both the East and West and make for fascinating reading, especially when it is revealed that it was a French western acupuncturist, Dr Paul Nogier, who stimulated a revival of auriculotherapy in the mid-twentieth century. Terry Oleson has a neuroscience background and wrote his doctural dissertation for psychology on the firing patterns of neurons in the somatosensory and auditory pathways. He first examined auricular diagnosis as research director of his Californian university’s pain clinic and over several years of studying auricular diagnosis, produced a positive scientific study linking auricular diagnosis to musculoskeletal pain. Dr Oleson, who is not an acupuncturist, went on to study the work of auriculotherapy pioneers and was particularly enthralled with the work in France of Dr Nogier, whom he met on three occasions at international congresses in Europe. Oleson has since taught auriculotherapy at American colleges and universities for over 20 years.
In the foreword to the book, Dr Raphael Nogier, Paul’s son, says that this manual brings together western neurophysiological concepts and oriental energetic concepts as they relate to auriculotherapy. He says, ‘Dr Oleson lives in a US state which assimilates western and eastern cultures. Perhaps only in California could one be able to do the work that he has done.’
Dr Oleson refers to a report in the Nei Jing, as written by Dr Gong Sun Chen, of the Nanjing Medical University, which includes numerous references to the theories and experiences of using a unique ear channel (Chen and Lu, 1999). The ear was not considered an isolated organ but was intimately connected with all the organs of the body. He says that The Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, printed in 1602, recorded that cataracts could be cured by applying moxibustion to the ear apex point. As late as 1888, during the Qing dynasty, the physician Zhang Zhen described how the posterior auricle could be divided into five regions, each region related to one of the five zang organs.
There was a subsequent erosion of faith in traditional oriental medicine following the defeat of Chinese military in the Opium Wars of the 1840’s, when the Chinese lost a sense of confidence in uniquely oriental medical discoveries and the authorities of the time were impressed by the germ theory of western medicine. In addition Jesuit missionaries in China utilised the power of western medicine to promote the Christian faith. The Chinese government attempted (without much success) to suppress the teaching of oriental medicine as unscientific, issuing prohibitory edicts in 1914 and again in 1929. After the communist revolution of 1949 Mao Tse Tung called for a revitalisation of ancient Chinese methods for health and healing, leading to a renewed interest in acupuncture, moxibustion and herbs. There was very little auricular acupuncture used until Paul Nogier’s ear reflex charts arrived in China in 1958. Gong Sun Chen (1995) has confirmed that it was only after the Chinese learned of Nogier’s inverted fetus picture of auricular points that great changes in the practice of ear acupuncture occurred.
In his remarks Dr Nogier’s son says that his father’s work was based on the fact that the external ear has particular diagnostic and treatment properties because of its enervation and the presence of neuro-vascular complexes. Emphasis was placed upon palpation of the vascular autonomic signal to determine the reactivity of an ear point and its appropriateness for treatment. This work was recognised, Oleson says, in 1990, when The World Health Organisation held a meeting on auriculotherapy in Lyons, partly to honour Nogier (who died in 1996), who was later described as ‘the Father of Auriculotherapy’
Oleson reports that since the introduction of Nogier’s discoveries, medical research in China has focussed on the relationship of ear acupuncture to classical meridian channels, the use of ear seeds, as well as needles for the treatment of different diseases. He refers to the distinct discrepancies between oriental and western ear charts. Distortions, he says, may have appeared in the transmission of ear maps from France to Germany to Japan and China. Because of these differences, British writer Royston Low published both Chinese and Nogier charts in his Acupuncture Atlas and Reference Book in 1984, much to the puzzlement of those who studied auricular therapy at that time. The Chinese maintain that the ear acupuncture points used in their treatment plans have been verified across thousands of patients. Chinese conferences which were completely devoted to research investigations of ear acupuncture were held in 1992 and 1998, and the Chinese government authorised a committee to standardise the name and location of 91 auricular points.
This book embraces the total field of auriculotherapy, listing several hundred points in many clear charts and offering a clear index of both the acupuncture points and treatment protocols for systemic disorders. Over 200 illustrations are clearly drawn and show the placing of the points for various types of treatment. In the chapter on protocols there are sections on drug detoxification, pain in limbs, back pain, head and neck pain, neurological disorders, stress related problems, hearing, nose and throat, skin and hair, heart, lung and many others. Each section lists the recommended points and has facing diagrams showing the point locations.
One section deals with the Master Points typically active in most patients and useful for the treatment of a variety of health disorders. These include Point Zero, shen men, Sympathetic, Autonomic Point, Allergy Point, and Endocrine Pooint. There is an interesting chapter on clinical case studies, in which Oleson has incorporated his own clinical findings, partly based on his experience with the UCLA Pain Management Clinics and with those of other healthcare practitioners who treat auricular points with needles or who use the Nogier vascular autonomic signal on diagnosis. Cases include relief of nausea, peripheral neuralgia, weight control and addiction protocols.
He refers to the ‘fastest growing application of auriculotherapy in the healthcare field’, the use of acupuncture points for the treament of various addictions. The National Detoxification and Addiction Association (NADA) was founded on the work of Dr H L Wen, of Hong Kong and the early application of this work by Dr Michael Smith, of New York City. Wen found that placing one needle in the lung point alone was sufficient to withdraw a heroin addict from his addiction but he also needled the shen men point to produce general calming. Dr Smith developed a protocol for substance abuse recovery that included the lung, shen men, Sympathetic Autonomic, kidney and liver points in the ear. NADA was formed in 1985 in Washington DC and the organisation has spread to many parts of the world (see EJOM Vol. 3 No. 5; 2001), being used by some 4,000 therapists working in various social fields. To obtain training and certification there is a seven-hour course, using the five-point protocol and learning to become comfortable with an addict community.
Dr Oleson introduces an auricular zone system to provide a systemic method for locating the precise position of a point. This uses the proportional subdivision of major anotomical regions of the auricle, a set of two letters and a number to represent each ear zone in concurrence with guidelines established by the World Health Organisation’s acupuncture nomenclature committee. This differs from a system first developed by his team at UCLA Pain Management Centre (Oleson and Kroening 1983) and a zone system developed by Paul Nogier in 1983, all of which are illustrated. A chapter on auricular diagnosis will interest many practitioners. It includes details of skin changes and ear lobe creases, which can indicate coronary problems, tumours, sciatica and tinnitus. All practitioners will find areas of the book of interest to them and I am confident that this well-illustrated, precise manual will be a great asset to any practitioner of auricular therapy.
Alan Rouse Alan Rouse, a former journalist, graduated from the British College of Acupuncture in 1984 and later completed the college's two-year advanced course. He ran a busy practice in Hampshire, combining acupuncture with his other disciplines of osteopathy and homeopathy, and retired two years ago. He now enjoys writing and travelling and is a member of the EJOM editorial team.