German auricular acupuncture: its history and how it works

Over the past few months, I have been learning and practicing German auricular acupuncture, and have been very impressed by the results. The first question everyone asks is: “German acupuncture??” And the second question is: “Why the ear?” Read on for the answer to these questions. I hope to pique your interest in this interesting and effective medicine in a two-part article that will continue in the next issue.

History of auricular acupuncture

The two words “German” and “acupuncture” don’t seem like they should go together. But in fact, they do. Body acupuncture, the acupuncture that first comes to mind, is definitely of Chinese origin. Auricular acupuncture began in China as well, but its in-depth development occurred in Europe, beginning in the 1950s. As the story goes, the French neurologist Dr. Paul Nogier noticed a scar on the ears of several of his patients. The patients reported that the scars were the result of an effective treatment for sciatica, performed by a lay practitioner. Nogier was intrigued, and proceeded to do further research, ultimately discovering that the entire body is mapped on the ear in the configuration of an upside down fetus.

In 1956, Nogier’s findings were published in an international acupuncture journal. The Chinese adopted this ground-breaking, foundational information, and built upon it using the traditional Chinese medicine system. As Nogier continued to research auriculotherapy, he worked together with Dr. Frank Bahr of Germany and Dr. Rene Bourdiol of France. Through these connections, European auriculotherapy continued to develop in France and Germany.

The French, German, and Chinese systems share a lot in common, but there are distinctive features within each system. Next month I will explain what makes the German system unique and powerful.

Why the ear?

As Nogier discovered, the ear contains a representative map of the entire body, including the musculoskeletal system, the organs, and the central nervous system. This map is projected onto the ear by the brain. The brain is a relay of sorts, by way of which we recognize and experience illnesses and pain syndromes in our body. Those experiences are then projected by the brain onto the ear. By treating the ear, a signal is recognized by the brain, and sent to the part of the body in need of help. In other words, the ears give the practitioner a two-way avenue for direct communication with the brain in a way that impacts healing anywhere in the body.

The practitioner inspects the ear for changes in structure, color, tenderness, and electrical conductance that signifies pain, illness or any other physiological change. The “active” points that relate to the pathology are then treated with a needle or electrical stimulation. This treatment will interrupt the brain’s “sick” communication signal, and allow the body to restore its natural balance, thereby correcting the pain and/or illness.

As discussed in the May-June 2012 Newsletter , chronic pain is often perpetuated by a habituated pain cycle, long after the tissues are healed. When this communication signal is interrupted, the body can heal itself and return to a state of balance. Auricular acupuncture is an effective and efficient way to interrupt the pain cycle, thereby decreasing one’s level of pain.


After several car accidents, I was struggling with lower back pain due to a herniated disc and pain in my right hip and sacrum. I consulted with several chiropractors and received many treatments over the course of four months’ time. During this time I saw slight improvement, but it was rather minimal. I became depressed and hopeless, unable to exercise, sit down for longer than 15 minutes, bend or lift. The only way I could experience comfort was by reclining. Eventually I had to go out on disability, unable to perform the functions of my job.

Willing to try anything, I consulted with Anita Teigen from the Red Clover Clinic. She has helped me in the past with various ailments, and I thought she may have some insight about my current situation. She suggested trying out German auricular acupuncture. I had never heard of this, but she thought it would be particularly helpful because not only could it treat the problem quickly, but she had noticed it tended to clear issues for the long-term, not requiring multiple follow-up visits. I figured I would give it a try. After the first visit, I noticed my pain was reduced slightly. However, it was the second visit that really convinced me.  After the second visit, my level of pain went from a 6 to a 2. I can now sit for hours at a time, bend more easily and even exercise. My range of motion is greatly improved and I am no longer in constant pain. I did not believe this would be possible after four months of chiropractic treatment that led nowhere, but the auricular acupuncture really did the trick for me.  I am still battling some back issues, but they are nowhere near what they used to be. My life has dramatically improved and I owe that to Anita!  -M.S.

I was really excited about my recent EAR TREATMENT. The pain and stiffness in my neck and low back is very persistent and has been a recurrent challenge for years. I typically handle this problem with acupuncture, chiropractic, and yoga as well as massage. These treatments always feel good, but these areas are still tied up in knots. However, I immediately felt a difference in the pain and stiffness. The area of complaint is now isolated to just the left side. I have way more mobility in my neck and back. It is such a change. I am really looking forward to seeing how follow up treatments will improve not only this area, but others! Woo Hoo! Thanks Anita.  – M.L.