Auricular acupuncture (also known as auriculotherapy or ear reflexology) is a form of alternative medicine based on the idea that the ear is a microcosm of your body, meaning that your entire body can be treated from your ear.

Conditions affecting the physical, mental or emotional health of the patient are assumed to be treatable by stimulation of the surface of the ear. Similar mappings are used in many areas of the body, including the practices of reflexology and iridology

Ear acupuncture is often used to help people with addictions or cravings, including for drugs and cigarettes, and it helps with the detoxification process. It can also be used to help treat insomnia, stress or emotional issues, and to aid relaxation.

The ears are treated either with acupuncture needles, or with ear seeds, which are tiny pellets that are on a small piece of tape; these are placed on the part of the ear that is affected.

What to expect from your auricular acupuncture session

Your practitioner will first carry out a consultation in order to find out which acupoints need to be focussed on. This may include  questions about your medical history, diet and lifestyle, or a range of assessments, which may include tongue and pulse readings. You will then be asked to remove items of clothing according to which acupoints the practitioner needs to access in order to balance qi within your body.

Once a needle has been inserted or a seed applied, it will be left in place for between 5 and 30 minutes. The acupuncturist may also add heat to your treatment to increase the flow of blood and qi to the area.