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What is “Anxiety Piercing” and Does it Work? Experts Weigh In.

By Dr. Nicole Cain ND, MA

Daith and Shen Men Piercings for Anxiety: Do They Really Work?

KEY POINTS:

From pharmaceuticals to silent meditation retreats, people with anxiety and panic attacks are often willing to try anything to find relief. There are many conventional and holistic options available, but with new treatments emerging all the time, it can be difficult to know where to start.

What if there was a treatment that helped relieve symptoms of anxiety that was also beautiful and fun? Enter: Anxiety Piercing.

The idea behind Anxiety Piercing comes from the practice of acupuncture — which is rooted in the idea that piercing or stimulating certain points along the body may be helpful at relieving symptoms. Acupuncture has been used to treat anxiety for centuries, and according to Ashley Flores, a licensed acupuncturist in Chicago, “Acupuncture eases anxiety by regulating the nervous system, specifically by bringing the branches of the autonomic nervous system back into balance.

A 2021 meta-analysis published in the journal Annals of Psychiatry of 20 randomized controlled trials found that acupuncture was significantly effective at treating anxiety. In particular, researchers found that acupuncture can be helpful for a lot of different types of anxiety including: general anxiety disorder, panic disorder, panic attacks, phobias, social anxiety disorder, and separation anxiety disorder.

A 2022 study found that auriculotherapy, the practice of stimulating acupuncture points in the ear, is an effective treatment for anxiety and stress. The study also found that any auriculotherapy intervention is more effective than not performing it, and that semi-permanent needles are more effective than other materials.

In recent years, ear piercing has become a popular alternative to acupuncture for stimulating the acupuncture points in the ear, most notably those associated with anxiety relief. Instead of getting daily acupuncture treatments, many people are choosing to get an ear piercing that both stimulates these points and looks great to boot.

In this article you are going to learn about piercings for anxiety, including answers to some of the most common questions about anxiety piercing:

What are the most common ear piercings for anxiety?

The most common ear piercings for anxiety are the Shen Men (Heavenly Gate) and Large Intestine (Point Zero) piercings. These piercings are located in two key acupuncture points that are believed to be effective at reducing anxiety.

Studies on auricular acupuncture suggest that these points may be effective at reducing anxiety. For example, a study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that auricular acupressure significantly reduced anxiety levels and improved IVF outcomes in women with anxiety.

Another study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complement Alternative Medicine looked at the efficacy of stimulating Shen Men and Point Zero in regulating the nervous system. The researchers found that occlusive press needles at the “Shenmen” and “Point Zero” points at both auricles increased a parasympathetic state, which is associated with a reduction of stress and anxiety and an increase in calm.

While the Shen Men and Large Intestine acupuncture treatments are popular choices for people seeking relief from anxiety, ear piercings for anxiety have also gained attention in recent years.

Let’s look at the most common two anxiety piercings.

The Daith Piercing for Anxiety

A daith piercing is a type of piercing that goes through the innermost fold of the ear cartilage, near the auricular points Large Intestine and Point Zero. It is typically worn with a hoop or bar.

Some clinicians believe that the daith piercing can stimulate the vagus nerve, which plays a role in regulating emotions. In theory, this could help to reduce anxiety. However, research on this topic is limited and inconclusive.

One study published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology found that stimulating the daith piercing did not lead to any significant changes in vagus nerve activity. However, the study’s authors noted that the piercing may still have other therapeutic effects that have not yet been studied.

If you are considering getting a daith piercing for anxiety, it is important to weigh the potential risks and benefits carefully, including:

The Shen Men Piercing for Anxiety

A Shen Men piercing, also known as the Divine Gate point, is situated in the upper central cartilage of the ear. Research has explored the potential benefits of acupuncture stimulation at this point, such as alleviating anxiety, boosting immunity, relieving migraines, calming brain zaps, and promoting overall bodily balance with promising results. Additionally, there are many Shen Men piercing enthusiasts raving about how piercing their Shen Men has been life changing for their anxiety and migraines.

However, it’s essential to note that the body of research on this specific piercing is still relatively limited.

Because this acupuncture point is located in the cartilage of the ear, it is important to consider the risks and benefits of this point that were discussed in the section on the daith piercing.

Do ear piercings really help anxiety?

The research is limited.

While some people report that ear piercings have helped to relieve their anxiety symptoms, there is no strong scientific evidence to support this claim. More research is needed to determine whether ear piercings are a safe and effective treatment for anxiety.

Some experts believe that ear piercings may be beneficial for anxiety because they stimulate pressure points in the ear. Others believe that the piercing itself may disrupt the flow of energy in the body, which could actually worsen anxiety symptoms.

For example, some acupuncturists argue that piercings can cause scarring and permanently alter the acupuncture point and cause a disruption of the flow of energy, or qi, along that associated meridian line. While in some cases, the line will shift to go around the piercing, other times the piercing may cause more harm than good.

The metal associated with the piercing itself also comes into play. Acupuncture specialist Lisa Marie Price L.Ac., Dipl.Ac. also states that “metal jewelry, especially in piercings, can conduct qi or electromagnetic energy in a way that may negatively impact health.”

If you’re looking for a more affordable or less invasive way to stimulate auricular acupuncture points, there are a number of alternatives to ear piercing that you can do at home.

What are alternatives to ear piercing for anxiety?

There are many great alternatives to ear piercing for anxiety that you can do at home. Here are my favorite three options:

Ear seeds: Ear seeds can be made from actual or synthetic seeds. They come in packets with small adhesive squares with a seed in the center, that you can apply directly to acupuncture points in your ear. They are inexpensive, safe, and very effective. They work by stimulating the acupuncture points in your ear, and you can wear them throughout the day. For best results massage the ear seeds gently several times throughout the day. The benefit will last between 20 minutes and several hours. You can buy ear seeds from many online retailers for example:

Amazon: Link HERE, price: $8.99 for 420 pieces.

Essential oils: Research has shown that certain essential oils, such as lavender, can absorb through the skin and offer statistically significant reductions in anxiety when applied topically. Once absorbed, the active constituents can penetrate the cell membranes and enter the bloodstream, where they may stimulate the vagus nerve, if applied to the Shen Men and Large Intestine acupuncture points. For best results massage your oil of choice into your Shen Men and/or Large Intestine auricular points, several times each day. It is important to remember to find a physician-grade essential oil. You can access my favorite oils by going to my Full Script.

Concluding remarks

Ear piercing for anxiety is a relatively new treatment modality, and more research is needed to determine its effectiveness. However, some people report that it has helped to reduce their anxiety symptoms. If you are considering getting an ear piercing for anxiety, it is important to talk to your doctor and acupuncturists first to weigh the risks and benefits.

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Whenever considering changing your protocol whether it includes a change of medications, supplements, diet or lifestyle, always speak with your primary care physician first.

Dr. Nicole Cain is an advocate for empowering people around the world to help themselves via her educational free resources, online courses, and membership group. You can receive the tools you need to find the root cause of your symptoms and feel healthy again.