These ear piercings may help with chronic pain and health conditions

Getting a piercing is really exciting, but did you know it could also have health benefits?

‘Body piercings on the lips, nipples and nose have all been linked to the health benefits of acupuncture,’ according to pharmacist Giulia Guerrini.

‘Ear piercings are believed, by acupuncture practitioners, to be incredibly potent in aiding almost everything from brain development to chronic pain, digestion and menstrual cramps. 

‘It should be noted that the scientific evidence of acupuncture is very limited, but there are anecdotal success stories surrounding the topic at the very least.’

‘Ear cartilage piercings work similar to acupuncture and relieve pain by stimulating pressure points and nerve endings,’ writes Healthline.

‘This practice is based on the same underlying idea of acupuncture and acupressure.’

What is acupuncture therapy?

Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine, in which fine needles are ‘inserted into sites in the body for therapeutic or preventive purposes, in order to treat a variety of conditions, according to the NHS.

Auriculotherapy involves stimulation of the external surface of the ear to alleviate pathological conditions in other parts of the body.

It is based on the idea that the ear is a microsystem that reflects the entire human body.

‘Our ears have 200 acupoints,’ says Giulia. ‘Locations on the body are thought by acupuncture practitioners to reflect visceral conditions and regulate internal organs. 

‘When your ear is pierced, the location of the piercing can – according to auriculotherapy (ear acupuncture) – alter the flow of energy within the body and, in certain instances, soothe the pain.’

So, which piercings allegedly help certain health conditions?

Daith

The Daith piercing would be located in the innermost fold of the ear. 

While evidence of any health benefits is mainly anecdotal, some people believe this piercing can help to ease anxiety-related migraines.

‘The Daith piercing has been touted as a popular option to treat anxiety symptoms and migraines after gaining fame on TikTok last year,’ explains Giulia. 

‘The acupoint associated with the piercing is known as ‘point zero’ and helps the body maintain optimal bodily function (which, of course, anxiety and migraines both disrupt),’ 

Conch

Conch piercings, which are named due to the ear’s resemblance to a conch shell, are found in the inner cup part of the ear.

Both the inner and outer conch can be pierced; the inner conch is higher up, in parallel to the Daith.

Some people get this piercing to alleviate acute or chronic pain, according to Healthline.

Helix

This is one of the most popular cartilage piercings located on the outer ridge of the ear.

‘The helix is a spot used during acupuncture and acupressure…well-known headache treatments,’ says Healthline.

If stimulated with a piercing, it is claimed to provide relief for congestion or a sore throat.

Forward helix

This piercing would be found on the front of the ear, close to the head.

This acupressure point supposedly helps with muscle tension as well as encouraging blood circulation. It is also said to prevent wrinkles.

Tragus

The tragus is the thick piece of flesh that covers the opening of the ear canal.

Acupuncture pressure at this site is said to stimulate the vagus nerve, which goes from the brain to the rest of the body and controls bodily functions such as digestion, heart rate and our immune system.

Stimulation of this nerve has been shown to reduce the symptoms of health conditions such as epilepsy and depression, according to Healthline.

People also say this piercing helps with anxiety.

Rook

A rook piercing will go through the inner ridge on the uppermost ridge in the ear. It’s above the Daith. 

Again, while not scientifically proven, this piercing is thought to reduce stress and help alleviate migraines.

Is it worth it?

‘It is also possible that people who report health benefits after piercing their ears are experiencing a placebo effect – when your brain convinces your body that a treatment with no therapeutic benefit is improving your mental or physical health,’ says Giulia from digital pharmacy Medino.

‘I would personally not recommend body piercings for any health-related subject, but I would equally encourage people to pursue all safe forms of treatment if they honestly and sincerely believe it might help. 

‘Every person will have varying success with alternative methods like auriculotherapy and acupuncture.’

Don’t want a piercing? Try ear seeding

Ear seeding is a needle-free form of auriculotherapy where small beads, sometimes resembling jewellery studs, are placed on the surface of the ear with the hope of stimulating certain pressure points which are connected to parts of the body.

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