Ear Piercings That Provide Acupuncture Benefits

The ear is a sacred tool for healing in traditional Chinese medicine. It contains just under 300 pressure points that correlate with different functions and parts of the body that, when utilized correctly, can help ease pain and improve bodily functions. Acupuncture is one of the practices that readily recognizes those capabilities.

Auriculotherapy is a form of acupuncture that focuses solely on the outer ear. It reaps many of the same benefits as acupuncture, which also utilizes the ear. Acupuncture consists of thin needles placed in specific pressure points on the body, whereas auriculotherapy uses tiny metallic balls, known as seeds, that are adhesively placed onto pressure points on the ear. The goal of each is to balance and move energy, known as qi, and, as a result, alleviate pain and address symptoms ranging from migraines and digestive issues to arthritis and chronic pain. The practice has been around for over 3,000 years, and many believe it is effective in relieving pain and other symptoms. To try to take advantage of auriculotherapy in a more permanent way, people have been getting their ears pierced at specific pressure points.

Which piercings help with what

It makes sense: Rather than book several auriculotherapy appointments, why not get a piercing that remains there for as long as you'd like? While there's not much scientific research on the effectiveness of this method, a case study published in Frontiers of Neurology observed a man who got a daith piercing to help with the chronic migraines and tension headaches from which he had suffered for years. They recorded his claims of positive changes and a decrease in his symptoms' intensity. Additionally, the daith is associated with relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Other piercings that have self-reported benefits include the helix, rook, conch, tragus, and forward helix. The helix is known for helping with insomnia and allergies; the rook for helping with stress relief, migraines, digestion, and period cramps; the conch for helping with chronic pain and muscle relaxation; the tragus for helping with weight loss via appetite suppression, anxiety, and migraines; and the forward helix for helping with muscle tension and preventing wrinkles. While there's minimal research on the effectiveness of these piercings, people continue to talk about their therapeutic results.

Tips and alternatives

Not only does the placement of your piercing matter, so does the intensity of your symptoms and the metal that you use. While they can be beneficial, piercings may also overstimulate the body because of the constant pressure. "In Chinese medicine, we believe when areas of the ear are pierced it can be draining for the body, as the area is constantly stimulated. This can cause a few things to happen: scar tissue build-up, which impairs blood flow and the earring hole, which is completely draining," California-based acupuncturist Mona Dan told The Chalkboard. "Using gold and silver as an earring can preserve your energy." She went on to say that silver tends to have a relaxing effect, while gold can be more energizing.

For those looking for something that lasts longer than an acupuncture session but not as permanent as a piercing, the previously-mentioned ear seeds may be the answer. Unlike acupuncture which requires a professional, using ear seeds can be done on your own after learning how to place them from your acupuncturist, and can be worn up to a week.