Many illnesses have as a defining characteristic an abnormal presentation in the external auricle. This should not be surprising since the ear reflects the condition of the entire body. Manifestations of pathology in the ear include the following characteristics.
• Abnormal color including erythema, flushing, paleness, bluish-black coloration
• Excess moisture or oozing rash
• Abnormal hair growth
• Engorged blood vessels and abnormal blood color (blue, red, or purple)
• Dilated capillaries, varicosities, hyperpigmentation, and capillary clustering
• Boils, blisters, warts, lesions, moles, papules, pimples
• Dark spots, petechiae
• Depressions, grooves, creases, such as Frank’s sign
• Swelling, edema, puffiness, bloating
• Dry, scaly, leathery, withered skin, skin abrasions, erosions, skin breakdown, desquamation
• Detached ear lobes, ears that move, high ears, ears that stick out, small ears, long ears lying close to the head
• Pathology of the helix, conchas, or antihelix crus
• Red veins on the posterior aspect of the ears
• Hard nodules or calculi on the rim of the auricle or on the outside opening of the external auditory meatus
• Fleshy, scaly, painful, crusty lesions
• Knots, lumps, bumps, growths, protuberant stripes, ridges
• Shiny spots
• Shriveled, shrunken ears
The most common signs of point pathology that I have gleaned from my clinical experience are summarized in Table 7.1. Part One of the chart offers general pathology and Part Two is more specific. To use this chart effectively for diagnosis, combine the pathology (i.e., redness) with the point on which it is found (i.e., Lungs) to construct the proper diagnosis, which would be Heat in the Lungs. This simple process of combining the abnormal finding with the point on the ear promotes rapid and accurate diagnosis and the reasoning process over memorization so that one is free from memorizing and/or having to consult written lists of pathology. Thus, the practitioner learns to quickly infer the clinical differentiation presented in the ear.
For instance, red signifies Heat and Heat Stasis. Let us say you see a red mark on the Stomach area. This suggests the broad category of Heat or Heat Stasis in the Stomach, which can have multiple manifestations, such as a Stomach ulcer, excess hunger and thirst, bad breath, or acid reflux disease.
Specifically, we should not equate Heat in the Stomach with an ulcer or any other Western illness because, as Oriental medical physicians, we differentiate the syndrome (i.e., Heat/Heat Stasis in the Stomach) rather than diagnose an illness (i.e., Stomach ulcer). There are many possible health disorders that are covered under the proper differentiation of the syndrome vs. any one particular disease. This is a unique strength of Oriental medicine, which treats the syndrome pattern. In another case, if the red mark is found on a Throat point, the diagnosis is Heat in the throat. Heat here could take the form of a sore throat in its many varieties.
The Nanking Army Ear Acupuncture Book and other texts found in the reference section of this chapter provide complex lists correlating pathology with auriculoacupoints. They can be consulted for additional specific clinical information.
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