Auricular Therapy for ADHD

Olivier Lejus continues his look at ADHD treatment with an approach that combines East and West

Olivier Lejus continues his look at ADHD treatment with an approach that combines East and West

Last month, we discussed the various causes and characteristics of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. We looked at the aetiology of this increasingly common disorder according to the framework of Oriental medicine, as well as the various treatment modalities adopted in Western medicine.

Unfortunately, in the later case, the prescribed pharmaceutical medications are only symptomatic, and do not address the causes of the dysfunction. Also, many parents are concerned about the added potential for serious side effects and complications in young children.

Today, I would like to look at a promising treatment approach that involves the combination of both Eastern and Western medical systems. In a previous article in this magazine early this year, I mentioned a newspaper story about a US army doctor in Afghanistan who has achieved such amazing results in treating American soldiers suffering from battle shock trauma with auricular acupuncture that his unconventional techniques have being incorporated into the army medical training program. This article encouraged me to become involved with this form of therapy, and I am now convinced of its enormous potential in the treatment of mental end emotional disorders in both children and adults.

Auricular acupuncture is a form of energy therapy developed by the French medical practitioner Dr Paul Nogier around 50 years ago. This eminent doctor discovered in the mid 1950s that the ears had various reflex zones which where associated with specific parts of the body. Palpation of certain parts of the ear provoked a distinct pain sensation in the corresponding body region. Also, the tenderness of the ear acupuncture points increased as the degree of dysfunction in the corresponding organs worsened. In contrast, the tenderness decreased when the health condition of the patient improved.

This original thinker soon discovered that stimulating the dysfunctional areas on the ears could achieve very powerful therapeutic effects in the related organs of his patients. In the following decades, these reflex areas on the ears have gradually been expanded in size, and the neurological points influencing the specific brain structures have been accurately mapped out.

Auricular acupuncture is now well established in Western Europe as an efficient, inexpensive, and quick procedure which has very few side effects. It is estimated that in Germany. Austria and Switzerland alone, there are more than 20,000 physicians who practise this form of acupuncture on a regular basis. Both types of acupuncture can be used separately or together in the same session. In contrast to body acupuncture, auriculotherapy has the added advantage of being able to specifically target the individual parts of the central nervous system that are responsible for these dysfunctions. It is often the treatment of choice for addiction from substance abuse, and psycho emotional problems.

In the case of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity disorders, several American studies discovered that the frontal and temporal cortex of the brain, as well as the pineal gland, and cerebellum were 3 - 4% smaller in size among sufferers than non sufferers. These are the areas of the nervous system involved in the regulation of attention span, impulse control, empathy, memory and language skills, and general human behaviour.

This research led to the creation of a treatment approach named "Three Phase Auricular Therapy" which has proved to be very successful in the treatment of ADHD in the USA. The initial treatment begins by harmonising the energy blockages in the body organs which are causing the behavioural dysfunction. In auricular diagnosis, specific problems in the body will be indicated by specific areas of skin discoloration in the ear which are darker, discoloured or flaky. For example, bright red or brown spots are usually an indication of acute inflammation, while white flakes or crusty scales on the skin surface reflect a more chronic problem in the corresponding organ. One also looks for protrusions, depressions or unusual markings on the auricular skin surface which indicate pathological imbalances. These specific dysfunctional areas of blockage can be stimulated with an electrical device, or with semi permanent pellets applied to the surface of the skin with adhesive tape for weeks at a time.

Once these areas of blockage have been cleared, the reflex areas of the brain on the ear surface are individually assessed for hypersensitivity to pressure, skin discoloration and irregularities. The diagnosed impaired sections of the brain are treated with the same tools as previously indicated. Generally, the treatment methods using micro current electric stimulation or laser therapy on the ear are well received by young children. In all cases, semi permanent beads and pellets made of gold or silver can be used safely for all ages.

Patients or parents can seek auricular therapy as a complementary approach to conventional treatment to decrease the dependence on pharmaceutical drugs. One should mention that in all cases, the treating psychiatrist or physician should strictly supervise any gradual changes in the patient's medications.

Nevertheless in many cases, as the brain structures involved in the pathology are addressed, auricular therapy could potentially constitute the sole therapy approach for these conditions.

Olivier Lejus MHSc (TCM), BHSc (Acup.) is an accredited acupuncturist practising in Sydney.

You can read Part One of this series at www.novamagazine.com.au - Articles archive September 2011 Vol 18 No 7 "An Eastern View of ADHD"