Piercing the body is a practice that has taken place for centuries in different cultures throughout the world and for many reasons, such as religion, nobility and wealth, tribal ritual, superstition, status, fashion, masculinity and virility. Modern piercings tend to be more an expression of individuality and are widespread amongst adolescents, who are struggling to find their identity and control over their changing bodies. So what does this form of body modification do to the body’s qi flow? Having a piercing could be compared to receiving acupuncture treatments 24/7. The body is constantly being stimulated by ”needles”, some of which are placed in points on major qi meridians relating to different internal organs. If the individual is already unhealthy, then an over-stimulation of certain points long-term could lead to an imbalance in yin/yang energy and vulnerability to disease. The areas of the body that are often pierced are as follows:
Navel area/Belly button: In the centre of the umbilicus lies the point CV 8 on the Conception Vessel meridian (Ren mai), which relates to the central nervous system. This is considered a forbidden point for needling in Oriental medicine and can only be used for moxibustion in order to warm and stimulate yang qi. Over-stimulation may result in a chronic imbalance in the body and even a predisposition to a disease, such as MS.
Nipples: The point ST 17 on the Stomach meridian lies in the direct center of the nipple. It is never needled or treated in acupuncture. Problems from piercings might include blockage of milk ducts in females and in the lymph nodes under the arm.
Tongue: The tongue represents many organs of the body: kidneys, urinary bladder, stomach, spleen, lungs, heart, liver, gallbladder. Piercing the center of the tongue may cause digestive problems.
Lip: Between the nose and the upper lip is an important first-aid revival point GV 26 on the Governing Vessel meridian (Du mai). This point is used to activate the sympathetic nervous system. Over-stimulation may cause spasms in the back, dizziness and nausea. Teeth damage and receding gums could result from piercing of the Madonna/Monroe (beauty spot) area off center above the upper lip. Directly below the center of the lower lip lies the point CV 24 on the Conception Vessel meridian. Piercing here may cause teeth grinding and mouth infections.
Nose: UB 2 point on the Urinary Bladder meridian is located on the bridge of the nose. A piercing here could cause sinus issues and headaches. According to the holistic Indian medicine Ayurveda, a woman will experience less pains in childbirth if her left nostril is pierced.
Eyebrow: TW 23 on the Triple Heater meridian is located at the outer end of the eyebrow. Yu yao, an Extra Point, is at the center of the eyebrow. Piercings here may result in headaches.
Ears: In TCM the ear is a microsystem of the whole body. Multiple piercings could cause problems with the liver, kidneys and urinary bladder. Sailors used to have the tip of the earlobe pierced to improve eyesight out at sea.
Not only are energetic imbalances possible through the piercings themselves, but also the metal being used for the jewelry should be taken into account. Chinese alchemy was related to holistic medicine in ancient China and it was believed that certain metals would bring immortality. Each of the Five Elements is linked to a metal (gold, silver, lead, copper and iron). Gold is yang (hot) in energy and sweet in taste. Silver is yin (cold) and sour.
As always with Oriental holistic medicine the key is moderation and awareness of the body/mind connection to minimize any toxic disturbance to health.
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