Who knew that piercings were good for more than just fashion statements and angering parents? Recently many people have been getting new piercings purely for their medicinal qualities and swear on their effectiveness.
Auriculotherapy is defined on Wikipedia as a form of alternative medicine based on the idea that the ear is a micro-system which reflects the entire body. The theory is that a piercing in the area of the ear that corresponds to the body part in question will aid in easing pain. It is essentially the practice of acupuncture on the ear alone.
Some medicinal piercings work by targeting specific nerves in the ear. Due to the actual presence of a nerve, these treatments are more easily supported than treatments based purely on the theory of ear reflexology.
Auriculotherapy isn’t just said to ease physical pain; it’s also commonly used for mental effects such as relieving anxiety or battling insomnia. Most of these piercings have multiple alleged effects and many are rumored to treat both physical and mental ailments. If you have a specific issue you think a piercing may relieve, research would definitely be beneficial. It seems as though there is one for everything.
Like most forms of alternative medicine, there is no way to gather genuine evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture piercings other than anecdotes and experiences from people who have the piercing. Regardless of the lack of scientific evidence, many people claim wholeheartedly that piercings have provided them with great relief from anything to chronic pain to depression. Even if the desired medical outcome isn’t reached, the client still comes out with a cute piercing!
The daith piercing’s claim to fame is as a form of migraine relief, but they are also said to ease chronic anxiety. As a migraine sufferer, victim of anxiety, and someone with a daith piercing, I feel as though I am well-versed on this topic. Researchers at Migraine Buddy, an app for logging migraines and headaches, spoke with a professional piercer about the daith. “She told us that she does about 10-20 piercings a week for people from all walks of life who suffer from migraines, and that ‘about 90% of the people that follow up with (her) have either less frequent attacks or less intense attacks or have not had any since.’” Writers for HealthLine discussed the effects of daith piercings on migraines and anxiety and the possibility of the effects of the piercing being due to the placebo effect. “We don’t know enough about this treatment for anxiety to rule out the placebo effect. But we do know that getting acupuncture to treat migraines and anxiety has been shown to work better than a placebo. If daith piercings do work to ease anxiety symptoms, it’s most likely because the piercing mechanism is similar to acupuncture.”
- Shen Men
Shen men, which translates to “heavenly gate,” is said to relieve a number of ailments, however, it’s typically used to relieve anxiety, similar to the daith. Chinese acupuncturists swear on this spot and use it to relieve anything from allergies to addiction. An anonymous writer on the website for Chronic Ink Tattoo stated, “Some individuals report less anxiety following a Shen Men piercing. Occasionally, individuals are able to lower their medication dosage for anxiety or depression after a piercing.”
The lobe piercing has different alleged effects based on where you place it; the first hole is supposed to improve eyesight, while the third hole is supposed to improve depression. The first hole is an acupuncture point appropriately named the vision point. Pirates believed that wearing a hoop in their ear would improve their eyesight and allow for better sailing. The website Dr. Tavel, a blog dedicated to optometry, wrote, “author Dave Feldman’s Imponderables website quotes acupuncturist Dr. Steve Given from Santa Monica, California as saying ‘There are reports of people enjoying vision improvements after having their ears pierced.’” Less evidence is available for the effectiveness of the third lobe piercing, but body modifications, in general, can be exhilarating and make us feel better about ourselves, so perhaps hormones released during and after the piercing process make us all a little bit happier.
The tragus piercing, along with other effects, is rumored to aid in curbing uncontrollable appetites to help with weight loss. According to the health website 100healthcare, “The acupuncture point right on the middle of your tragus is responsible for appetite control, which after piercing helps to control your appetite. Dr. Paul Nogier, The Father of Modern Auriculotherapy found this. . .” Although this piercing may reduce one’s appetite, it should definitely be combined with traditional diet and exercise to see real results. The writers at 100healthcare say “Getting a tragus piercing and eating crap won’t help you in losing pounds. You’ll still have to eat right.” Piercers at Shameless Body Jewelry conducted a study on the effects of the tragus piercing on two clients and both returned with very positive feedback. “These piercings I would recommend to anyone! I found over the past 10 days after getting them that I don’t crave the junk food I always tend to go for when watching tv or relaxing and wanting something to munch on. My weight was 325 when I got these done; I have lost 15 pounds in the past 10 days and feel these piercings have worked wonders on me.”
The rook piercing is rumored to alleviate pain and cramps related to menstrual periods. Professional piercer Ben Tauber told Daily Mail about a client that specifically had the rook done to relieve her cramping; “They explained to me when they were talking with their acupuncturist that this was a spot that, when done, can actually help to alleviate severe cramps associated with their menstrual cycle. Since I did that original one, I’ve actually had a few people come to me to request the same thing. I’ve had a few of them come back to see me and they swear it helps.”
There is a point on top of the ear called the allergy point which if stimulated, or pierced, is said to relieve symptoms of allergies such as congestion or a sore throat. Piercings on this area of the ear are commonly referred to as simply cartilage piercings, however, the technical name for most piercings along the outer rim of the ear is helix. Almost Famous Body Piercing, a shop in Maine for body jewelry and tattoos, advocates for the helix piercing as a form of allergy relief.
The conch is one of the more intense ear piercings, so it’s ironic that many claim it helped alleviate their chronic pain. Ben Tauber told Daily Mail about a client, “. . .another who asked for an outer conch piercing noticed a positive impact on their lower back pain and digestion. They had told me these were meant to help with lower back pain,’ he explained. ‘This was once again something that was suggested by their acupuncturist.’” A writer on the blog Maple Leaf Aussie who suffered from fibromyalgia reported a positive turn in her pain after getting a conch piercing. “I’ve been able to significantly reduce my codeine intake by about 90%. Before the conch piercing, there were days when I was taking as much codeine as I had been prescribed, and sometimes it didn’t seem to touch the pain at all. In the seven weeks since the piercing, I’ve taken less and less of it.”