Enthusiastic reports of the effectiveness of electrical stimulation of the outer ear for the relief of pain ("auriculotherapy") have led to increasing use of the procedure. In the present study, auriculotherapy was evaluated in 36 patients suffering from chronic pain, using a controlled crossover design. The first experiment compared the effects of stimulation of designated auriculotherapy points, and of control points unrelated to the painful area. A second experiment compared stimulation of designated points with a no-stimulation placebo control. Pain-relief scores obtained with the McGill Pain Questionnaire failed to show any differences in either experiment. It is concluded that auriculotherapy is not an effective therapeutic procedure for chronic pain.
Melzack R, Katz J. Auriculotherapy Fails to Relieve Chronic PainA Controlled Crossover Study. JAMA. 1984;251(8):1041–1043. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340320027021