OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine is an international peer-reviewed Open Access journal published quarterly online by LIDSEN Publishing Inc. It covers all evidence-based scientific studies on integrative, alternative and complementary approaches to improving health and wellness.

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It publishes a variety of article types: Original Research, Review, Communication, Opinion, Comment, Conference Report, Technical Note, Book Review, etc.

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Publication Speed (median values for papers published in 2023): Submission to First Decision: 5.9 weeks; Submission to Acceptance: 14.7 weeks; Acceptance to Publication: 8 days (1-2 days of FREE language polishing included)

Open Access Editorial

Unexplained Phenomena in Auricular Medicine

Gerhard Litscher *

  1. President of the International Society for Medical Laser Applications (ISLA transcontinental; since 2012), German Vice President of the German-Chinese Research Foundation (DCFG) for TCM (since 2014), Vice Chairperson, World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies, Committee of Card. Rehab. (2023-2028), Honorary President of the European Federation of Acupuncture and Moxibustion Societies (2023), Honorary Professor of China Beijing International Acupuncture Training Center, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences (2023), Former Head of two Research Units at the Medical University of Graz/Austria/Europe

Correspondence: Gerhard Litscher

Special Issue: Auricular Medicine: Prevention, Auriculodiagnosis and Auriculotherapy using Evidence-Based Complementary Medical Methods

Received: January 02, 2024 | Accepted: January 04, 2024 | Published: January 04, 2024

OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine 2024, Volume 9, Issue 1, doi:10.21926/obm.icm.2401003

Recommended citation: Litscher G. Unexplained Phenomena in Auricular Medicine. OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine 2024; 9(1): 003; doi:10.21926/obm.icm.2401003.

© 2024 by the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the conditions of the Creative Commons by Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format, provided the original work is correctly cited.

Abstract

Auricular medicine, an integral component of traditional medicine, has grown famous as a complementary and alternative Medicine (CAM) modality. Despite its widespread acceptance and anecdotal support, the scientific community grapples with multifaceted challenges that impede the establishment of a comprehensive empirical foundation for auricular medicine. This editorial critically assesses the current scientific landscape, delineating unresolved issues and scientific lacunae that demand rigorous investigation.

Keywords

Auricular medicine; traditional Chinese medicine (TCM); auriculotherapy; acupuncture; ear stimulation

1. Introduction

Within holistic medicine, auricular medicine is a compelling frontier characterized by its distinctive emphasis on the intricate interconnections between the auricle and systemic well-being. While the therapeutic efficacy of auricular therapy is substantiated by empirical evidence, a spectrum of unexplained phenomena persists within this ancient discipline. These phenomena, spanning from nuanced subtleties to extraordinary occurrences, challenge our comprehension of the body's energy meridians and the profound impact wielded by the auricle on physiological homeostasis. Embark with us on scientific exploration as we endeavor to elucidate the enigmatic unexplained phenomena in auricular medicine, probing the obscured intricacies inherent in this venerable and centuries-spanning therapeutic modality.

The following topics represent just a tiny fraction of the vast array of scientific inquiries awaiting exploration and resolution in auricular medicine [1].

2. Unresolved Issues in Auricular Medicine

2.1 Lack of Standardization in Auricular Point Localization

The absence of universally accepted standards for auricular point localization remains a critical impediment to scientific progress. The lack of consensus on anatomical landmarks and methodology for point identification undermines the reproducibility and comparability of studies, thereby hindering the development of a cohesive scientific framework [2].

2.2 Inadequate Research Methodologies

Methodological shortcomings plague many extant auriculotherapy studies, including small sample sizes, absence of control groups, and inadequate blinding. Establishing the efficacy of auriculotherapy demands methodological rigor, necessitating robust randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with meticulous design and execution [1].

2.3 Limited Understanding of Neural Mechanisms

The neurobiological underpinnings of auricular medicine are inadequately elucidated, with a shortage of consensus regarding the precise neural mechanisms governing its therapeutic efficacy. Clarifying the neurophysiological processes that mediate the effects of specific auricular point stimulation is imperative for substantiating the physiological basis of auriculotherapy [3].

2.4 Variability in Treatment Protocols

The absence of standardized treatment parameters encompassing stimulus intensity, duration, and frequency poses a formidable challenge to advancing auricular medicine research. Achieving consensus on these critical variables is imperative to enable meaningful comparisons and facilitate meta-analytical endeavors [1].

2.5 Integration of Modern Imaging Techniques

Incorporating advanced neuroimaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET), represents an untapped frontier in auricular medicine research. Harnessing these technologies can furnish invaluable insights into the neurobiological substrates and dynamic changes induced by auricular stimulation [1,4].

2.6 Long-Term Effects and Safety Profile

A paucity of comprehensive investigations into auriculotherapy's long-term effects and safety profile underscores a critical research gap. Systematic exploration of potential adverse effects and the sustainability of therapeutic outcomes is imperative for substantiating the safety and durability of this therapeutic modality [5].

2.7 Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Fostering interdisciplinary collaboration between traditional medicine practitioners, acupuncturists, neuroscientists, biomedical researchers, and allied disciplines is paramount. Such collaborative efforts are pivotal for synthesizing diverse perspectives, methodologies, and insights, thereby advancing a more holistic understanding of auriculotherapy within the contemporary scientific paradigm [1].

3. Conclusion

In conclusion, investigating unexplained phenomena in auricular medicine underscores the existing intricacies and knowledge gaps concerning the auricle's impact on comprehensive health. An ongoing exploration of these phenomena can augment our comprehension of historical therapeutic modalities and catalyze innovative advancements within holistic medicine.

Author Contributions

The author did all the research work for this contribution.

Funding

No financial support.

Competing Interests

The author hereby declares that no conflict of interest exists in connection with the publication of this editorial.

References

  1. Rangon CM, Litscher G, Bering R, Stanton G, Bering AM, Porges SW, et al. Report from the 11th International Symposium on Auriculotherapy held in Copenhagen, 8-10 September 2023 - Auriculotherapy meets the field of psychology. OBM Integr Complement Med. 2023; 8: 047. [CrossRef]
  2. Wirz-Ridolfi A. The history of ear acupuncture and ear cartography: Why precise mapping of auricular points is important. Med Acupunct. 2019; 31: 145-156. [CrossRef]
  3. Fernández-Hernando D, Fernández-de-Las-Peñas C, Pareja-Grande JA, García-Esteo FJ, Mesa-Jiménez JA. Management of auricular transcutaneous neuromodulation and electro-acupuncture of the vagus nerve for chronic migraine: A systematic review. Front Neurosci. 2023; 17: 1151892. [CrossRef]
  4. Jang SH, Cho MJ. Transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation in disorders of consciousness: A mini-narrative review. Medicine. 2022; 101: e31808. [CrossRef]
  5. Wang L, Gao F, Wang Z, Liang F, Dai Y, Wang M, et al. Transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation in the treatment of disorders of consciousness: Mechanisms and applications. Front Neurosci. 2023; 17: 1286267. [CrossRef]
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