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GB12 for tinnitus: a new method

For most acupuncturist, it’s new to use GB12 for tinnitus. This blog will introduce the novel use of GB12 for tinnitus.

1. Introduction on Tinnitus

Tinnitus refers to an individual’s perception of sound in the absence of an external acoustic stimulus. Globally, 10–15 % of the general population is affected by the disease, sometimes even up to 18 % of people in industrialized societies. So far, the aetiology of tinnitus is not clear. Although it is commonly encountered in clinical practice, it very difficult to treat or cure, especially for the elderly. Liu et al published their system-review study in European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology and ported that acupuncture appeared to offer subjective benefit to some tinnitus patients than conventional therapies or sham treatments. Among the 18 trails, SI19, GB2, SJ17, GB20, SJ21, and SJ3 were most frequently used. We could see that the proximal points on the Sanjiao and Gallbladder channels were mainly selected, which conforms to the meridian theory. Basically speaking, the points of the channel which connect to the morbid area should always be selected.

2. GB12 for Tinnitus

GB12 (and the depression behind the mastoid process) is frequently used to treat headache, toothache, plum-pit, epilepsy, etc. Tinnitus as the indication is not recorded in the acupuncture books. Chen (1996) reported a case with tinnitus, who was cured with GB12, SI19 and SJ5 after 7 treatments.

I still remember when I was an intern in the ENT department of the teaching hospital of the Chengdu University of TCM, the supervisor told me that, acupuncture can help a lot in the treatment of tinnitus. He basically only used needles in his clinic. He achieved about 70% effectiveness after every treatment. I learned his favourite point GB12. A needle is inserted just towards the inner ear. Manipulation e.g. rotating, scraping, should be performed to make Deqi. Usually, tinnitus patients may report a good Deqi sensation like an electric flash in the inner ear.

Based on the selection of GB12, SJ3 and the three ear points (SJ21, SI19, GB2) can also be combined. Gb39 is added for kidney Jing xu, gb34 for damp or damp-heat, LI4 for external wind, LR3 for the hyperactive liver Yang. Electricity can be added to GB12 and SJ5. Moxibustion can also be applied to expel external Wind and resolve phlegm in the channels around the ear.


Liu F, Han X, Li Y, Yu S. Acupuncture in the treatment of tinnitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology. 2016 Feb 1;273(2):285-94.

Chen ZG, Clinic use of GB12. Journal of Clinical Chinese Medicine, 1998, 14(1):41.

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