Volume: 8
Issue: 3
March 15, 2013

Dear Colleagues:

Have you ever wondered if the “piercing” fashion might affect health? Personally I cringe when I see piercings in the tongue, nose and around the mouth, if only because of the potential for infection. However, infection is probably a small risk compared to other subtler health risks that come with body piercing.

With body piercing, there are two common complications (occurring separately or together): The first is an immune reaction to one or more of the metals in the piercing material. Nickel is the most common allergen, but gold, chromium, and many others including even titanium can cause reactions in the skin and deeper tissues.  This is becoming more and more of a concern with metal joint replacements and dental implants, but any penetration of the skin, or even skin contact can cause systemic or distant problems.

The second potential complication of piercing is an energetic response to irritation of an energetically sensitive location. Oddly, the locations that young people pierce are all energetically sensitive: the peri-umbilical area, the lips, tongue, nose, ears and eyebrows. Of course piercings are human adornments in some ancient cultures, but I sometimes puzzle as to why energetically sensitive areas are the ones chosen for piercing. (I welcome explanations or suggestions from readers.)

When energetic reactions occur, unpleasant symptoms may arise systemically or in distant locations in the body. A young woman that I know developed mild depression after inserting an earring into her upper external ear (corresponding to acupuncture points for the upper limb). After removing the earring, she felt better; re-inserting it a few weeks later made her feel worse. She had been and is still able to tolerate earrings in the lower ear lobe.     

Recently I received an interesting case report from Oscar Guodoy, a physiotherapist and neural therapist in Chile.

A 22 year old girl with Crohn’s disease had abdominal pain which had not responded to resection of part of her small intestine 5 years previously. She also had lumbar pain, neck pain, frontal headache and bilateral thenar eminence pain. All resolved with removal of her tongue piercing.

Although the location of the tongue piercing was in the stomach reflex zone, (somewhat anterior to the intestinal reflex zone), the tongue was clearly energetically important enough to prevent the pain from the Crohn’s disease from resolving.  Apparently the young woman also had amalgam fillings in her teeth, which Mr. Guodoy felt might be causing nervous system irritation through electrogalvanic currents.

In my experience, piercings are not common causes of interference fields, but they should certainly be considered and checked in any patient with unexplained pain or other medical symptoms.

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