What’s the Deal with Acupressure Jewelry? Here’s What You Need to Know

If the thought of acupuncture makes you think of dozens of tiny needles sticking out of your skin and causes you to break out in a worried sweat — we have good news.

First, acupuncture isn’t painful. It’s tremendously relaxing. Second, if the needles are really the—erm—sticking point for you, there’s a way to reap some of the benefits of acupuncture without any needles at all, AND you can look cute doing it. In fact, you may have already seen acupressure’s many tools in use on people around you, namely, in their ears. You’ve got it: acupressure jewelry.

These tiny dots stuck into and around the ears are more than just an adorable, metallic accessory; they’re carefully placed at points around the ear on energetic pathways with direct correlation to organs and other body parts. Indeed, there is a corresponding point on the ear for every single other place in your body, from your heart to your gallbladder to your toes, eyes and central nervous system. When pieces of acupressure jewelry—also called auricular jewelry, vaccaria seeds or ear seeds—are carefully positioned and left in place for a few days, it can help your body mend its ailments.

The Questions

Wait, how does acupuncture work in the first place?

Skeptical that something sticking to your ears could help treat an issue elsewhere in your body? To understand just how the process works, let’s take a brief dive into the science of acupuncture.

Acupuncture is a facet of traditional Chinese medicine that encourages the body to self-heal while improving organ and structural function throughout the entire system. Energy flows through the body along precise pathways (“meridians”). When you’re healthy and in balance, energy flows unobstructed. A blockage of energy leads to warning signs and symptoms: pain, illness, lack of function and compromised mobility. When tiny needles are inserted along meridians during an acupuncture treatment, they open up the flow of energy and encourage bodily functioning, including healing ailments and disease.

Chinese medicine has been practiced for thousands of years, so it’s not surprising that it stands up to rigorous scientific study: It has been shown to have a positive effect on the nervous system and functioning of the endocrine, immune, cardiovascular and digestive systems.

How do your ears fit into this picture?

There is a distinct correlation between the nerve endings in the ears and various sites throughout the body. Stimulating places on the ears with a “seed”—or with a needle in a full acupuncture treatment—sends a signal via the spinal cord to move energy to and promote wellness in the other corresponding site. Like needles, the seeds help move energy smoothly along meridians in the body. These can help promote blood flow to your digestive tract, decrease inflammatory responses in joints or promote tension release in a muscle. Because the seeds remain on your ears—and on those acupoints—for several days, the benefits are multiplied. Your body continues to receive encouragement to heal and stay in balance long after the jewelry is attached.

What can auricular acupuncture treat?

The benefits of wearing some super-cute acupuncture jewelry are vast. Ear seeds can treat symptoms of insomnia, nausea, headaches and migraines, neck and back pain, anxiety and depression, fibromyalgia, allergies, arthritis, constipation and IBS, and can even act as a support tool for overeating and smoking cessation.

Should I stick on my own ear seeds?

While there are limited potential negative side effects of wearing acupuncture jewelry, you’ll get the best results if you have a licensed acupuncturist apply the seeds to your ears. Many offer mini-sessions for ear acupuncture only, or you could request these be added at the end of a full acupuncture session.

Are there other kinds of acupuncture jewelry?

Meridians run throughout the body, so applying pressure or inserting a needle along any of those locations has an effect somewhere else in your system. The key is to ensure they stay on (which is why the oft-untouched ears make a particularly effective place to stick acupuncture seeds). Rings and bracelets are other common items in the acupuncture jewelry realm; the hands are wrists are full of nerve endings and meridians that help move energy.

The Takeaway

Acupuncture is a highly effective way to treat many ailments. It encourages the body to do its own healing and leaves you with an overall feeling of well-being and calm. Acupuncture jewelry is a stylish way to reap even more ongoing goodness from this traditional medicine modality.

Content on The Warm Up is not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any illness, symptom or injury and is provided for informational purposes only. Speak to your health care provider to learn if acupuncture is a good option for your unique body.

Photo courtesy of Kali Zoe Designs.

Amy Height is a holistic health coach, triathlete and yogi traveling North America full-time to discover the best in nutrition and fitness. She shares healthy living ideas and plant-based, gluten-free recipes at From the Ground Up Wellness. Follow the adventures and find some fit-foodie inspiration on Instagram, amyheight.