Auriculotherapy – Electric Solution

By: Mary Jo Blackwood, R.N., MPH

Excerpts retyped from Ladue News, 2006

While most people are familiar with acupuncture, a similar technique, one also based on stimulating nerve pathways, is gaining popularity these days. Auriculotherapy uses a small electric current applied to specific points on the outer ear to treat a variety a variety of ailments and addictions.

Smoking and eating are very complex issues, adds Richard Campana, a partner in the Leslie-CamĀ® Stoop Smoking program. “The hypothalamus of the brain, its ‘happy center,’ releases dopamine in response to nicotine. When a smoker stops cold turkey, he goes into withdrawal as the body depletes itself of nicotine,” he explains.

“The auricular electrical stimulation works as a transfer to the happy center and simulates dopamine release, making the body feel like it just had a cigarette,” Campana says. He has fine-tuned some of the trigger points in his treatment, he notes, and by trial-and-error has come up with a proprietary combination that he maintains increases effectiveness on smokers.

Campana is passionate about the treatment because he quit smoking with auriculotherapy 14 years ago. He says he wasn’t even trying to quit; he just wanted to be able to breathe. Now, 200 physician offices refer patients to Leslie-CamĀ®, especially those scheduled for surgery. “One of them is a periodontist who won’t do implants or bone grafts on a smoker because they won’t take,” Campana says.

Weight loss with auriculotherapy takes longer. It speeds up the process of getting the message to the brain that the stomach is full, but the therapy is complicated by the body having to eat to stay alive. “Smokers stop smoking. As long as they don’t have a cigarette, they are fine. Dieters still have to eat, so they need more treatments, generally once a week for eight weeks in conjunction with a healthy diet and counseling to change their lifestyle,” Campana notes.

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