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The effect of auricular acupuncture on the pulse rate: an exploratory randomised controlled trial
  1. Adrian White,
  2. Edzard Ernst
  1. Department of Complementary Medicine, School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health Sciences, 25, Victoria Park Road, University of Exeter EX2 4NT (UK), Email: a.r.white{at}


    Advocates of auricular acupuncture believe that the internal organs are represented in the concha of the ear and can be affected by needling the appropriate area. These two areas of the body have a common innervation from the vagus nerve. The aim of this randomised, single-blind study was to determine whether stimulation of the ear produced changes in the pulse rate, an indicator of vagal tone. Doctor volunteers were needled in either the vagus area or a control area of the ear, and pulse rate changes were measured over the following 30 minutes. No significant differences were found in the pulse rate changes of the two groups. This study, which was limited in size and in other respects, found no evidence to support the concept that the body is represented on the ear.

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