At 18, I got my tongue pierced just because I could. It got so swollen I couldn’t talk, and because I knew my mother wouldn’t approve, I hid from her for three days, answering with a shrug when she asked me questions like, “what do you want for dinner?”
Of course, the real answer was “nothing” because I couldn’t even swallow my tongue hurt so bad. Beyond the pain and the occasional chipped tooth, I thought my tongue piercing was awesome. Not once would I have ever imagined it could have been messing with my health.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the tongue is directly connected to one of our main meridians. The meridians are a “trail of energy in the human body.” A central belief in this practice is the presence of an energy or life force called “qi” or “chi.” In a healthy body, our life force flows smoothly, connecting through our meridians.
Within the practice of TCM, different areas of the tongue represent different areas of the body. The liver, heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, and gallbladder are all represented on our tongue. By piercing this area, we may become more prone to illnesses, including digestion problems, fatigue, constipation, and acne. Crazy, right?
Well, the tongue is just one point of connection to one of the 14 main meridians found on our bodies. If a metal piercing is located along the line of a meridian, it can have major effects on an individual’s health and bloodstream due to its energy-altering effects.
As many of us have witnessed first hand how stress can negatively affect our energy. In this post, I wrote about how harboring the stress of decision-making had negative health consequences for me like low energy and depression. Stress can also lower immunity and decrease our resistance to illnesses. This is also true with qi. Disrupting or injuring our meridians causes energy imbalances, decreasing our natural immunity and leading to chronic disease.
A few months ago, a friend of mine went to a holistic doctor seeking advice for a gastrointestinal issue that had been plaguing her for years. Immediately her doctor suggested she remove her bellybutton ring that she had also had for years. I remember when she called to tell me about her appointment and I thought, that’s ridiculous! How could a piercing be affecting her body like that?
But according to TCM, the belly button is considered the REN Meridian channel, and it affects our entire central nervous system. Imagine a network of lines of energy circulating around our body at all times—like a circuit, the belly button being at the center. Having a belly button piercing would disrupt the flow of energy around this circuit, acting like an open switch and not allowing energy to pass through it.
But what I want to know is: How? How could something so surface, such as a piercing, deeply affect us, causing infertility, cervical dysplasia, and gastrointestinal issues? Doctors trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine reveal that the scar tissue produced by a piercing “may interfere with the flow of qi, along the…meridians. Scar tissue conducts qi, or electromagnetic energy, differently than normal body tissue.” Acupuncturist Lisa Marie Price says she has “many patients who come in with chronic symptoms that clear up after we do treatment to restore the normal flow across scar tissue.”
The other thing about piercings, Price says, is that “metal jewelry, especially in piercings, can conduct qi or electromagnetic energy in a way that may negatively impact health. Also, people frequently have autoimmune reactions to different kinds of metals and may not be aware of it.”
If you’re having an issue that just won’t clear up, try taking out your piercing if it falls along one of the main meridian points. Also, switching to a material such as wood or stone could help with conducting a less harmful type of electromagnetic energy through your body.
Pho: Cordoba, Huey, Berg, Hall