Auriculotherapy or Ear Seeds

Auriculotherapy, more commonly known as ear seeds, is based on the idea that the ear is a microsystem and an external organ that reflects the entire body. 

Conditions affecting a patient’s physical, mental or emotional health are treated by stimulation of the surface of the ear exclusively. Several modalities use similar mappings, including reflexology.   

Acupuncture relieves pain from various causes, including low back pain, osteoarthritis, and headaches.  

Published at, Auriculotherapy is an adjunct to traditional acupuncture that has developed into a distinct treatment system over the last 60 years. 

Stimulating a point on the map of the ear is proposed to affect the growth of anatomical organs associated with that point. The ear auricular points may be stimulated with needles, fingers, or electrical units attached to articular needles. 

Early studies of Auriculotherapy have demonstrated beneficial effects on both pain and anxiety, including pain associated with cancer, knee arthroscopy, hip fracture, and hip arthroplasty. 

Several recent small studies have suggested that auricular acupuncture alone can relieve pain and anxiety in the prehospital transport phase of hip fracture and reduce acute pain due to a variety of causes in the emergency department settings. 

Auriculotherapy is currently used in a wide range of acute and chronic pain conditions beyond the perioperative. 

Around 2018, Loree Chadbourne was getting regular acupuncture treatments in Morgan Hill, California, to relieve her joint and jaw pain, stress, and disrupted sleep. One day, her acupuncturist suggested she try ear seeds, a form of treatment in which, typically, an acupuncturist places small pellets of a variety of materials on key parts of a patient’s ear.

Published at, ear seeds are the size of a tiny seed, 2mm by 2mm, and are attached to the ear with very small pieces of adhesive tape. An acupuncturist or other healthcare provider can attach them, but individuals can purchase kits and attach them themselves. 

Ear seeds can resemble small earrings. They provide a low-level form of acupressure, which the patient can boost by applying low-level pressure with a finger. Chadbourne’s acupuncturist attached about five ear seeds in each of her ears; some were metal, some were plastic crystals, she recalls. 

“My sleep improved immediately,” Chadbourne, 57, says. The ear seeds were placed in her ear to help her sleep, not her jaw pain. Improved sleep, in turn, helped alleviate her stress. 

Additionally, she felt the treatment alleviated her joint and jaw pain. The treatment was simple, not painful, and not invasive. Since then, Chadbourne has used seeds periodically when she feels her health care regimen needs a boost. She sometimes purchases seeds to apply herself at home. 

In the US, ear seeds have been used as a treatment since the 1950s, says Tom Iegano, a licensed acupuncturist with Charm City Integrative Health in Baltimore. About 40% of his patients use ear seeds, he says. 

Treatment has become more popular in the last decade or so, as patients have shared their positive experiences on Facebook, Instagram, and other forms of social media. Ear seeds also got a boost when the New York Daily News reported in 2013 that Spanish actress Penelope Cruz had been seen in public with ear seeds. 

Published @, results of a 2013 study looking at 19 people with chronic low back pain suggested ear seeds could help reduce pain and improve mobility. 

Participants were randomly divided into two groups. The first group had ear seeds placed on points associated with low back pain. 

The second group had ear seeds placed in random points on the ear. After four weeks of treatment, the first group noticed better results than the second group. Participants in the first group noted an overall decrease in pain intensity of 75%. The improvement lasted for at least a month. 

 A 2015 literature review examined 15 studies on auricular acupuncture with ear seeds for insomnia. The studies indicated that combining ear seeds and acupuncture reduced insomnia symptoms. 

Another 2015 study compared the minimum and maximum sensations of pain felt by 16 healthy people before and after using ear seeds. The results suggested that using ear seeds could increase pain tolerance. 

Remember that pain tolerance refers to how much pain a person can withstand. This is different from a pain threshold, which is the point at which someone starts feeling pain. 

I am opening a new office in Puerto Vallarta at Twiggs Hotel and Boutique, located at Francisco Villa #424, in Colonia Lazaro Cardenas, in April 2024! 



  • Dr. Irving Ramírez

    Dr. Irving Ramirez-Alvia, Naturopath, was born in Tepic, Nayarit, in 1992. After obtaining a degree in health and nutrition, Dr. Irving finished medical school and moved to Vallarta. His newly-opened office is at Lord Twigg’s Hotel and Boutique, Francisco Villa #424, Colonia Lazaro Cardenas; his online store features all-natural, homeopathic products and remedies. For an appointment with Dr. Irving in Puerto Vallarta or at FEDA Nutricion and Fitness, Calle Jacarandas 86, in Bucerias, or if you are interested in purchasing Dr. Irving’s CBD oil (5000mg or 10,000mg) without THC, please contact Loren Hayes on WhatsApp at 322-167-7570.

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