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Acupuncture Today – March, 2008, Vol. 09, Issue 03

Rapid Cancer Pain Relief With Auricular Micro-Macro Technique

By Darren Starwynn, OMD, LAc

There is great power in simplicity. It is said that the most masterful acupuncturists can effectively treat patients using only a few needles. The purpose of this article is to detail a simple, but remarkably powerful, microcurrent pain-control method I call the auricular micro-macro technique.

This simple technique can provide significant relief for cancer pain. It also can be used for relieving pain from most other causes. This technique utilizes the holographic principle of "as above, so below."

"As above, so below" is manifested in the human body in the microsystems. Microsystems are regions of the body that contain "maps" of the entire organism with specific acupoints that correspond to each part. Auricular, or ear, acupuncture is the best-known system. Ear acupuncture points were first written about in the ancient Chinese text Nei Jing. In modern times, additional microsystems on the hands, face, nose, feet and many other regions have been charted. Because these points have such a rapid and powerful regulatory effect on qi and blood balance in the corresponding part of the body, they can be successfully used to control acute pain. It is well-known that auricular acupuncture can reduce cravings for addictive substances such as tobacco, drugs and alcohol, and have an appetite-suppressive effect. There also are master auricular points that have a general balancing and regulating effect on the entire body through the endocrine and nervous systems.

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

Dots are on surface, square marks are hidden points
Modern research has shown that the activation of microsystem points causes measurable changes in electrical conductivity. This allows for point location using conductivity testing devices. It also has been shown that successful treatment of a point in one microsystem usually will result in deactivation of the corresponding points in other microsystems.1 For example, if the liver auricular point is treated and its reading normalizes, it is likely that the Korean hand point of the liver also will change accordingly.

According to J. Gleditsch: "The principle of fractalization has been recognized as the fundamental feature of self-organization in nature. ... In living systems, fractalization leads to organisms creating a number of quantum copies of themselves. These replicas seem to provide information exchange between the inner organs and the environment. In terms of cybernetics, therefore, micro-acupuncture systems are homeostats. The biological significance of these multiple copies is to guarantee greater internal stability and regulation resources."2

In my practice, I primarily have used auricular micro-macro technique to control a wide range of acute myofascial or musculoskeletal pain conditions, for treatment of addictions and as a supplement to treatment of various internal organ imbalances. I am focusing on the treatment of cancer pain in this article due to the great need for improved pain-relief methods for cancer patients.

Here are instructions for performing the auricular micro-macro technique for cancer pain:


  • Time required: 12-30 seconds per set of points to be treated.
  • Equipment required: Microcurrent stimulator with dual probe electrodes and switchable polarity that offers a small auricular probe tip. The use of equipment that also offers application of color light acutherapy will improve effectiveness.
  • Device set-up: Intensity at 25-50 µA.
  • Frequency: 2.5 Hz is a universal frequency for the ear. You can also use specific frequencies based on the correspondences of the ear and body region.
  • Waveform: Square for pain. Sloped for other disorders.
  • Polarity: Use polarized probe setting. Negative probe on auricular points, positive probe on painful body point(s).
  • Timer: 5-6 seconds per press of trigger on probe; total treatment time per micro-macro point combination is 20-30 seconds.
  • Color Light: Purple has worked very well for me with cancer pain. Other colors may be selected according to meridian or organ correspondence.


Set up the microcurrent unit with probes polarized. If available, place a 2-3 mm auricular probe tip on the trigger probe, which should be negative. In most cases, it is appropriate to place the negative probe (with auricular tip) on the microsystem point and the positive probe on the macro body point. The microsystem point is acting as the distal point in this system, which usually requires the negative polarity. In some rare cases, the polarity may need to be reversed. This can be verified by kinesiology.

Place wetted Q-tip of counterprobe (positive) on one or more painful zones, either directly over the cancer tumor or in areas of referred pain. For treating other forms of pain, place the + probe on the symptomatic part of the body or on the acupoint that directly registers the qi of that body part. For autonomic regulation, you may place the + probe on a back-shu point that corresponds to the affected body system. The patient can hold the counterprobe. Just tell them to touch where their body hurts the most.

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Dip auricular probe tip of the trigger probe into water, shake off excess and apply it to the area of the ear or hand point that directly corresponds to affected body region. For example, in cases of breast cancer pain referred to the shoulder, the patient holds the counterprobe on the shoulder or adjacent painful zones while you place the trigger tip on the shoulder point of the ear.

Use searching feature of device to find the exact microsystem point with the highest conductivity reading. You can then search with the counterprobe on the body area to locate the most conductive point.

You have now created an electrical circuit between the macro (body) and micro (ear) point. Treat until the reading on the unit meter goes as high as possible. You can then move onto other applicable point combinations and repeat the procedure.

It can be valuable to have the patient move or exercise the affected body region while performing this technique. Movement draws more qi and blood to the area for correction of stasis, and helps re-educate the neuromuscular system through proprioception.


  1. Hecker, Steveling, Pucker. Microsystems Acupuncture. Thieme Publisher.
  2. Ibid.

Click here for more information about Darren Starwynn, OMD, LAc.

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