Meaning “spirit gate”, the Shenmen or Shen Men acupuncture point, as per Chinese philosophy, is deemed a gateway to holistic wellness as it helps you access your emotions, mind, and spirit. All of these together, as much research has proven over time, can enhance your overall wellness and lead to better health, especially given the fast-paced lives that we lead today, with stress as a constant companion. One of the best ways to identify and use this point is through acupuncture.
Here’s what you need to know about the relationship between the Shen Men point and acupuncture, with valuable inputs from renowned senior traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner and therapist Ms. Mai Sogawa.
An Introduction to the Shen Men Point in the Ear
The “divine gate” or “heaven’s gate”, Shen Men is one of the many pressure points on the body, related to the spirit and mind, that can be stimulated through acupressure to help release any blocked or pent-up emotional, spiritual, or mental energy.
Also known as the “master point”, the Shen Men point is considered to be the gate through which gods enter and exit and therefore, is considered one of the most important pressure points on the body, capable of calming you down and nourishing you.
Some believe that this point is one of the most important points in the heart meridian (which originates in the heart and spreads through surrounding tissue and channels before eventually connecting with the small intestine), which is why it has such calming capabilities.
The Significance of the Shen Men Point
According to Ms. Mai Sogawa, the Shen Men point calms down any internal heat/fire and nourishes your blood. Its most important and popular purpose is to induce calm, and hence, this important ear point is used to address heart-, emotion-, or mind-related issues, from lowering stress and anxiety to treating palpitations and insomnia.
Apart from calming the mind and performing the above functions, the point can also be used for detoxification, adjusting the autonomic nerves, adjusting blood pressure, treating conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), motion sickness, addiction, and forgetfulness, as well as pain relief.
It can also be used to relieve nausea during pregnancy.
All of these functions make it an important point in auriculotherapy and acupuncture.
The Location of the Shen Men Point
There are two Shen Men acupuncture points on the body—in the triangular fossa in your ear and your wrist’s crease.
The former is the one that’s most recognized and popularly used. Many people also find it more effective. To find the Shen Men in your ear, look for the triangular depression that sits at the apex of your ear. Ms. Sogawa suggests stroking your ear with your index finger, working your way up the anti-helix.
You’ll find that the anti-helix branches slightly into two. The triangular fossa sits in the valley between these two branches. Your finger will fit into this indentation.
The second point is more straightforward to locate. Technically speaking, it sits between your pisiform and ulna bones on the radial side of the flexor carpi ulnaris tendon. Simply speaking, it’s the stringy tendon that sits just to the left (on your right hand, and vice versa) of the knobbly bone of your wrist that’s in line with your little finger!
As the ear sits closer to your head, signals from any point on it are transmitted more quickly to your brain. Ms. Sogawa believes that this makes the ear Shen Men more potent.
Benefits of the Shen Men Point
The Shen Men is one of the most important points sitting in the heart meridian, making it closely related to your spirit. By calming down the components of this meridian, you have excellent chances of lowering your anxiety.
The mind’s functioning is said to be the center of life activities as well as emotional and thoughtful activities. By calming the mind and spirit down, Shen Men can help anxiety.
Many people who use this point to relieve pressure find excellent results. Ms. Sogawa also often uses acupuncture on this point, along with others, on patients suffering from autonomic nervous disorders, to considerable success.
Practitioners have also found that the point improves their constitution and is effective against obesity, though the “Hunger Point” (sitting in the middle of the ear’s tragus) works better to regulate feelings of hunger and curb any unnecessary amounts of appetite, according to Ms. Sogawa—especially when combined with the stimulation of the acupuncture points sitting in the lung and kidney meridians to increase metabolism.
Done right, practitioners can definitely expect results from stimulating their Shen Men.
The Shen Men can be used to treat various health conditions. Here are Ms. Sogawa’s techniques:
- Migraines: Loosen your ear by rubbing it and getting rid of any tension or stiffness. Then, lightly press the point with a toothpick, using the rounded end. Gently press for about three seconds. This is an effective way to use Shen Men for migraines. Don’t do more than three rounds at different points of the day.
- Addictions: These points treat addiction very well because of the stabilizing effect they have on the mind. When your mind is stable and you’re at peace, the need for external stimulation decreases. Therefore, Shen Men points are widely used to treat opiate-induced addictions and have been proven effective against these.
- Other Conditions: These points can also fight headaches, high blood pressure, and insomnia, and as mentioned earlier, obesity.
How the Shen Men Point Works
Stimulating or needling the point can help relieve any spiritual, mental, or emotional energy blockage. The stimulation opens the doorway or gate for these pent-up forces to exit.
As with any acupuncture point, light pressure applied for about three seconds is sufficient to activate your Shen Men. Just a gentle Shen Men massage in this period will do.
You may find that your Shen Men point hurts when you massage it. This is normal, according to Ms. Sogawa.
Let’s consider muscle pain that arises from spending long hours hunched over your laptop. The points that are going to be the sorest are the ones that you stress the most, such as your shoulders and neck.
Similarly, points that accumulate fatigue, where waste products tend to collect and reduce blood circulation, are the ones that are going to hurt the most, causing stiffness and pain. The accumulation of pent-up energy, along with fatigue, waste, and reduced blood flow, is what causes the points to hurt.
Be careful of overstimulating your Shen Men point by massaging it for longer than recommended. This will turn out counterproductive, inducing fatigue and sluggishness.
Using Ear Seeds for Shen Men
Ear seeds are tiny adhesive beads that you place on the desired points to stimulate the acupuncture function. They are also used to induce the acupuncture auriculotherapy function of Shen Men points.
Ear seeds are available in silver, gold, and vaccaria. Whether you place gold or silver ear beads on the Shen Men depends on your body type. Silver beads are generally used, but if you have a weaker immune system, the gentle stimulation of gold beads will suit you better. Vaccaria can be used by anyone.
Both sides have the same effects, so you can place the ear seed on either ear.
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- According to Chinese philosophy, the Shen Men points, also known as “master points”, “heaven’s gate”, “divine gate”, and “spirit gate”, can calm the body down and nourish you, as these sit on the heart meridian.
- There are two Shen Men acupuncture points on the body—one in your ear and one on your wrist.
- The one in the ear sits in the triangular fossa and can be found by stroking your finger up your anti-helix. This is more powerful as it sits nearer to the brain, which means that signals from here reach the brain sooner.
- The one on the wrist is found to the right or left (depending on the arm) of the knobbly wristbone.
- Shen Men acupuncture points can be used to treat insomnia, anxiety, depression, addiction, and a range of other mental and physical issues that arise from stress. They can also be used for detoxification, weight loss, and migraines.
- You can stimulate your Shen Men auricular point using acupressure, acupuncture, and ear seeds.
- Don’t overstimulate your Shen Men acupuncture points. Limit massages to three seconds, with very gentle pressure, unless specified otherwise by a licensed traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner.
- You can use gold or silver beads for your Shen Men massage. Gold is recommended for those with weaker immune systems due to its gentleness.