Shen Men Piercing: Does It Help With Anxiety And Headaches?

The art of body modification that looks stylish and stimulates your acupuncture points.

Written by , MA Sangita Goel MA linkedin_icon
Edited by , BSc Shatabdi Bhattacharya BSc Experience: 2.5 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English Literature) Aparna Harry MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years

Piercings are a popular form of self-expression, but have you heard of them being a self-healing method? That’s right! Shen men piercing is widely in trend among netizens and style aficionados. It not only forms an aesthetic style statement but also occupies a section in the history of Chinese traditional medicine. It is believed to calm anxiety, relieve migraines, boost immunity, and bring back the body’s energy to the center. The art of body modification combined with potential health benefits sounds fascinating, right? Let us learn why this distinct ear piercing has earned such a revered spot. Scroll down!

protip_icon Piercing Guide: Shen Men Piercing
  • Placement: At the top-center cartilage of the upper ear
  • Best Jewelry: Studs and barbells
  • Cost: $50 to $100
  • Pain Level: High
  • Healing Time: 4 to 8 weeks

What Is A Shen Men Piercing?

Shen Men piercing
Image: StyleCraze Design Team

The shen men piercing is done at the center of the ear’s upper cartilagei  A firm yet smooth connective tissue that serves as an important structural component of the body and is much more flexible than bone. , the fleshy fold below the top curve. Acupuncture is a famous therapy from ancient Chinese medicine, and shen men is one of the most crucial acupuncture points. In Chinese, shen men translates to ‘Divine Gate’. The stimulation of the shen men point is believed to open the gateway to the general well-being of the human body.

Taylor Raye, a blogger, wrote about the effect of shen men piercing on the anxiety and panic attacks she had been dealing with ever since she became a mother. She heard about the benefits of shen men piercing and decided to get it done. She wrote, “As soon as he pushed the needle through that point it was like my whole body relaxed. A ball of stress in my chest melted and I’d had no idea that I had felt so tense. I was on a high.” After five months, she reported, “I’m more patient. I’m less quick to anger. I’m able to see what I can control and what I can’t and not let those things I can’t consume me. It’s amazing. I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at life. I’m happier and more productive (i).”

protip_icon Fun Fact
Ear piercing constitutes one of the 16 sacraments in Indian tradition. It marks a stage of human life and is a symbol of cultural heritage and elite upbringing.

The next section discusses how this particular piercing functions to offer you the supposed health benefits. Read on to learn more.

How Does A Shen Men Piercing Work?

Acupuncture practitioners and holistic health experts believe the shen men piercing and the nearby daith piercingi  A type of ear piercing that passes through the innermost cartilage of the ears, the one closest to the root of the ear. create pressure on the acupuncture points in the ear. This pressure activates the vagus nerve in turn.

The vagus nerve is one of 12 cranial nerves in the body that connects the nervous system and the brain. It is the longest cranial nervei  A set of 12 paired nerves located at the bottom of the brain that sends electrical signals from the face, neck, and torso to the brain. that begins from the head and branches to various parts of the body, including the ear cartilage and goes as far as the colon in the large intestine.

But how do other acupuncture points link to the shen men point? Understand the relation between them in the next section.

Acupuncture And The Shen Men Point

Woman having acupuncture therapy on her shen men piercing point
Image: Shutterstock

The practice of acupuncture uses specific pressure points present throughout the body to stabilize its metaphysical energyi  It refers to the energy outside human perception and material reality that connects humans and has created everything. . Traditional Eastern medicine practice believes these points balance an individual’s yin (negative, feminine, and dark aspects of a personality) and yang (positive, masculine, and bright side) allowing them to lead a healthy and happy life.

Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe the ear’s shen men point to be a powerful acupressurei  A technique that applies firm pressure on the acupoints and massages them with fingers or palms to create mild sensations. point that gets stimulated when pierced. They used this type of acupuncture as a form of non-medicinal therapy.

Auricular acupuncturei  A type of acupuncture therapy on the pressure points in the ear. believes the shen men ear point connects with dozens of energy centers throughout the body and influences the general wellness of humans. According to auriculotherapists, stimulating this shen men acupuncture point harmonizes ‘Qi’ (energy flow) throughout the body. For centuries, people have believed this energy flow, caused by the shen men, offers holistic health benefits and relief from various neural ailments such as depression, migraines, and anxiety.

But the potential benefits of ear piercing at the shen men point are not just limited to this. Learn about its advantages in detail in the next sections.

Benefits Of A Shen Men Piercing

Shen men piercing is the art where style meets health. This is where it differs from the common ear piercings. Let us take a look at its potential benefits that have encouraged many to get the top-center cartilage of their ears pierced.:

1. May Help Reduce Anxiety And Depression

Woman having a breakdown due to anxiety and depression
Image: Shutterstock

Shen men piercing, also known as ‘anxiety piercing’, may serve as an effective treatment for people with anxiety and depression (1). The ear is considered to be the microcosm of the body, and the shen men acupressure point is the magic spot in the triangular fold of the ear that brings down stress and improves a person’s overall well-being (2).

Let us look at another blogger’s experience of getting a shen men piercing. She already had a daith piercing and wanted to try shen men as her second after learning about it on social media. After a couple of weeks of getting the piercing done, she wrote, “It’s early days and while it hasn’t cured my anxiety and depression, it does seem to have eased things and I find that I can bounce back quicker than I used to and my periods when I feel like I could drown in my thoughts have certainly gotten better (ii).”

2. May Help Improve Sleep Quality

Shen men piercing may help improve sleep quality
Image: Shutterstock

Shen men acupuncture point also improves the quality of your sleep (2). It keeps tossing and turning at bay and influences your sleep patterns to make you sleep like a baby at night. With better sleep, the reduction in stress levels and the improved balance of energy become more apparent. A 20-minute acupuncture session on cancer patients after chemotherapy showed a significant enhancement in sleep quality (3). It also showed similar results in burn patients according to another study (4).

3. May Help Alleviate Pain

Woman suffering from a headache
Image: Shutterstock

Shen men piercing may help reduce migraine pain and other kinds of chronic pain. According to a study, cancer patients experienced significant relief in pain upon receiving acupuncture therapy after a chemotherapy session (3). Particularly the shen men point can serve as your personal therapist who jumps into action each time pain strikes.

But does it really help with anxiety and migraine or is it just a myth? The next section answers your question.

Does Shen Men Piercing Really Help With Anxiety And Migraine?

Piercing the pressure points on the ear, including the shen men point, effectively decreases the duration of the headache and pain intensity and significantly improves the quality of life in patients with migraine and chronic headaches (5). This happens due to the stimulation of the vagus nerve, which is responsible for controlling migraine and headache pain among many other physiological functions. Vagal nerve stimulation in a patient suffering from severe migraine attacks showed an improvement in the symptoms from 3 attacks per month to 3 attacks in 13 months (6).

A study was conducted on 341 patients suffering from migraine pain. They were divided into two groups – the experimental (169) and control (172) groups. The experimental group received vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) for 12 weeks. Their migraine days were reduced by 31.9% while the headache days decreased by 28.5%.

Therefore, if you are getting a shen men piercing for anxiety reduction, you might see some improvement in your symptoms. Some practical instances where shen men stimulation and acupuncture in general seemed to work for diverse cohorts of subjects are as follows:

  1. Administration of shen men point for 10 minutes showed a significant decrease in test anxiety in medical students (7).
  2. A study conducted on 330 cancer patients who received acupuncture therapy showed significant relief from anxiety and depression (3).
  3. Auricular acupressure therapy on shen men acupoint proved to be an effective treatment for healthcare professionals as well. It improved the symptoms of anxiety and burnout in them (2).
  4. Another study showed that acupressure therapy in patients undergoing open-heart surgery reduced anxiety while also decreasing systolic blood pressure and heart rate (8). Here too the shen men point had a significant role to play.
  5. A 10-minute acupuncture therapy on shen men and yin tangi  An acupuncture point between the eyebrows that helps relieve anxiety, stress, and cardiovascular issues. points to patients with second or third-degree burns alleviated their anxiety levels and significantly improved their sleep quality (4).
  6. Auriculotherapy reduced anxiety in male patients undergoing coronary angiography (9).

While shen men piercing clearly has certain benefits, you need to know about its healing time and care options before getting the piercing done. The next section discusses it in proper detail.

What Is The Healing Time For A Shen Men Piercing?

The recovery time of the ear piercings in the lobe or cartilage varies from person to person. Usually, it takes 4-8 weeks to heal without any complications but the time may vary depending on your body’s healing process. Extremely thin needles are used for piercing as they do not damage the skin tissue much.

However, proper care and precautions need to be taken to prevent any infection. Ensure the piercer does not use unsterilized piercing equipment to do the piercing to avoid any potential side effects.

protip_icon Pro Tip
Use saline solution once daily to wash your piercing. Wash your hands before cleaning the piercing and apply the solution to the pierced area using a cotton swab dipped in it.

The side on which you get the piercing is also important to note. Keep reading to learn about it.

Does It Matter Which Side The Shen Men Piercing Is On?

If you get migraine or headaches on a specific side of your head, it is advisable to get the piercing done on that particular side to treat the symptoms. However, if you are getting shen men piercing for anxiety or to manage symptoms not related to migraine or headaches, the side of the shen men ear piercing does not matter much.

Before getting the piercing, compare the prices of different piercing studios and choose one accordingly. Read the next section to get into the details.

How Much Does A Shen Men Piercing Cost?

You can expect to pay between $50 to $100. However, the cost of getting the piercing depends largely on the practitioner’s experience and the location of the studio. Choose a professional piercer to get the piercing done with proper safety precautions. Shen men jewelry would cost you extra depending on the material and type of the earring.

Shen men piercing happens on the center of the cartilage below the top curve of the ear. This body modification type borrows a page in Chinese traditional medicine history. The ancient acupuncture practitioners believed this point contained pressure points that stimulate the vagus nerve. The auriculotherapy of the shen men point claims to treat anxiety, migraine, and headaches and provide significant relief in their symptoms. They also help improve sleep patterns and alleviate the intensity of body pain. While many studies have shown the relation of shen men point stimulation with the overall well-being of humans, no scientific evidence is available to support the claim.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a flat piercing and a shen men piercing?

The shen men piercing is done on the top-center cartilage of the ear while flat piercing happens on the rim of the external ear. While both are auricular acupuncture points, the former majorly alleviates anxiety and stress and the latter helps deal with musculoskeletal pain.

What is the difference between shen men piercing and rook piercing?

A rook piercing is inserted into the upper cartilage of the innermost fold of the ear close to the root of the ear. The shen men piercing is a form of rook piercing.

Does the shen men piercing hurt?

The needles licensed piercers use for the piercing are extremely thin and hence do not cause much pain. However, some might feel slight discomfort while getting the area pierced.

What type of jewelry is suitable for a shen men piercing?

Studs and barbells are the most suitable types of earrings for shen men piercings as they are easy to wear and remove.

Key Takeaways

  • Shen men piercing is done at the center of the upper cartilage, below the top curve of the ears.
  • The piercing activates the acupuncture points present at that point, stimulating the vagus nerves in turn.
  • The stimulation of the nerves is believed to help reduce anxiety, improve sleep quality, and alleviate headaches and migraines.

Shen men piercing not only looks stylish but also carries potential health benefits. The video below explains the location of the shen men piercing and discusses its various benefits. Click the play button to learn more!

Personal Experience: Sources


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Effects and safety of auricular acupressure on depression and anxiety in isolated COVID-19 patients: A single-blind randomized controlled trial
  2. Auricular acupressure reduces anxiety and burnout in behavioral healthcare
  3. Acupuncture and reflexology for patients undergoing chemotherapy: A cohort study
  4. Effects of acupressure on sleep quality and anxiety of patients with second- or third-degree burns: A randomized sham-controlled trial
  5. Effectiveness of acupuncture as auxiliary treatment for chronic headache
  6. Vagus nerve stimulation relieves chronic refractory migraine and cluster Headaches
  7. Effects of auricular acupressure on test anxiety in medical students: A randomized parallel-group trial
  8. Investigating the effect of acupressure on the patients’ anxiety before open-heart surgery: A randomized clinical trial
  9. The effect of auriculotherapy on anxiety and physiological parameters of male coronary angiography patients: A single-blind randomized clinical trial
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Sangita Goel

Sangita GoelBeauty & Lifestyle Writer

Sangita is a content writer with a passion for exploring diverse genres. She has written 100+ blogs on an array of topics, including relationships, travel, beauty, and fashion. Armed with a master’s degree in history from Indira Gandhi National Open University, she has leveraged her curiosity to write captivating, engaging, and informative articles. In her free time, Sangita indulges full bio

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