Ear reflexology, otherwise known as auricular reflexology is a unique type of reflexology in its own right.
The outer ear, called the "pinna," or "auricle," is essentially ribbed cartilage covered by the skin. Ears are sensitive and full of nerve endings (over 500), making them an effective area to treat with reflexology.
Similar to other types of reflexology, the ear reflex points include points for every body part, organ and gland. Additionally, however, they also contain points for emotional balance, such as points for anti-depression, balance of sadness and worry, and for anti-aggression. Unlike other types of reflexology where right and left reflexology maps represent the right and left sides of the body, each ear has a map of the entire body.
Ear reflexology was developed in France by Dr. Paul Nogier in the 20th Century, who thought the ear reflexes resembled a baby in fetal position; Traditional Chinese Medicine claims the origins of the medical importance of the ear thousands of years prior, but the mechanism was by cauterization, and only much later by acupuncture. Though the European and Asian ear maps differ, many points have been standardized by the World Health Organization.
Stimulating ear reflex points encourages the body to heal itself. A common theory as to how ear reflexology works involves nervous system impulses - by working the points, electrical impulses are sent out from the reflex on the ear to the brain, and then messages are relayed to the corresponding body parts or organs, telling them to regulate themselves. Meridian theory proposes that applying pressure to the ear reflexes releases energy blocks along major energy pathways located within the body, thus increasing energy flow to specific areas that need it, and also generally, throughout every body system.
Because the ears are so small, and each contains the whole body map, an ear reflexology session can be performed in a relatively short time as compared to other reflexology sessions. For the same reason, ear reflexology is very easy to "add on" to other treatments, making the overall effect of any session more effective. Often your facial massage or foot reflexology may incorporate a shortened treatment on your ears. With specific points that can be used for particular goals, like "muscle relaxant", grounding points, and psychological well-being, clients can benefit in very specific ways. And a few select ear reflexes can be stimulated between sessions, by using small, round ear beads - known as seeds.