Your outer ear is a highly sensitive, nerve-filled part of your body. These nerves connect to your brain, and then can reach anywhere in your body via the correct stimulus. Through careful research, mankind has developed the tools to use your ear as a means of treating your entire body. Commonly, ear acupuncture is used with patients looking to quit smoking, lose weight, treat pain, insomnia, digestive issues, and more.
Ear acupuncture, also known as auricular therapy, has been used in China for thousands of years, and was further developed more recently by a French neurologist in the 1950's. It involves the use of smaller acupuncture needles to stimulate points on your ear: instead of a 1-inch, 0.22mm thick needle, your traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practiceer will use something more like a 0.5-inch, 0.18mm thick needle. This not only helps you feel less of a sensation on your ear with needling (although there is rarely pain when an acupuncture needle is applied anyway), but also enables your practitioner more ease with using a variety of points on your ear, which often is small and tricky to manoeuvre around.
Treatment may also, or instead, involve the use of small seeds of the vaccaria plant, which also serve to invigorate your blood and resolve stagnation, or even magnets (of the healing variety) as an adjunct to, or in place of the ear acupuncture needs. It is believed in TCM that your ear is a microcosm of your entire body, and so using points on your ear can essentially treat any disorder that could otherwise be treated using acupuncture points found elsewhere on your body. In fact, if you look at your ear, you can see how it might look like an inverted fetus with its head on your lobe, and the hands and feet pointing towards the top of your ear. Interestingly, many auricular therapy points correspond to this general pattern. For example, shoulder points are found where the fetus' shoulder would be.
Usually, auricular therapy is used along with acupuncture points on various other parts of your body. Your TCM practitioner will often use points on your body as well as points on your ear, and then place ear seeds on the same or similar points on your ear after treatment. The seeds or magnets are placed onto your ear with an adhesive, bandage-like material. The corresponding points are then stimulated by you, the patient, a few times a day until they fall off naturally, which is usually 3 or 4 days later. The added stimulation over the next few days helps to make your acupuncture treatment more effective.
Although it is easy to find maps of the ear acupuncture points, it is not advisable to use them to treat yourself or another person. In fact, be sure to only receive auricular therapy from a Registered TCM Practitioner, who is schooled in all manner of TCM modalities, and understands the best possible means of diagnosing you properly and effectively.