Relieve Stuffy Ears With Acupressure Points

San Jiao acupoints for stuffy ears

The San Jiao meridian begins on the fourth finger, travels up the arm and neck, then wraps closely around the ear before ending next to the eyebrow.  (See image below).


San Jiao meridian begins on the 4th finger and ends next to the eyebrow

6 Acupressure points to relieve stuffy ears:

  1. San Jiao 3
  2. San Jiao 17
  3. San Jiao 18
  4. San Jiao 19
  5. San Jiao 20
  6. San Jiao 21

San Jiao 3

SJ 3 is on the back of the hand, just behind the 4th and 5th knuckles, for stuffy ears.

SJ 3 is on the back of the hand, just behind the 4th and 5th knuckles.

San Jiao 3 (SJ 3) is the Empirical Point of the ears.
Empirical points are handed down to us from practitioners of ancient times. Empirical means based on experience, not necessarily logic. SJ 3, based on experience, benefits many conditions of the ears. Whenever there is an issue with the ears, I massage SJ 3.

San Jiao 17 – San Jiao 21

San Jiao points around the ear.

San Jiao points around the ear.

San Jiao 17

This point is located behind the ear lobe, on the very soft tissue at the top of the neck. Since this is such a soft and vulnerable area, use only very light touch with this point.

San Jiao 18-20

San Jiao 18 through 20 are located close the ear cartilage, behind the ear canal. Feel on your skull behind the ear cartilage for a ridge – that ridge is where the San Jiao meridian passes, and where San Jiao 18, 19, and 20 are located.
To locate these points, first locate SJ 17 and SJ 20.
SJ 18 is on the ridge behind the ear, one third of the distance from SJ 17 to SJ 20.
SJ 19 is also on that ridge, two thirds of the distance from SJ 17 to SJ 20.
SJ 20 is level with the tip of the ear.

San Jiao 21

SJ 21 is located in a groove just in front of the tragus (“ear flap”) and behind the upper jaw bone (mandible).
All of these points are on the skull and located around each ear. In general, deeper pressure can be used on SJ 18, 19, 20, and 21 than on SJ 17. Always gently increase pressure while asking for feedback from your client.  Never create pain or contraction with your pressure.
To relieve stuffy ears, add small circular movements to these points.
Be sure to combine massage to the points around the ear with SJ 3.
After massaging points on the head, I always like to give at least a short foot massage in order to balance the flow of energy from head to foot.

Wondering exactly how much pressure to use?

Check out this blog post on how to massage acupressure points.

Listen to a recording of this blog post:

Cindy Black

Cindy Black is the Founder of Big Tree School of Natural Healing and the author of Meridian Massage, Pathways to Vitality. She is appreciated for her ability to make the complex accessible, fun, and practical.


  1. Umar Budi on August 24, 2021 at 4:35 am

    Thank you Cindy,.

    Can I use press needle or ear seeds on the meridian points ? I have eustachian tube dysfunction and tinnitus for almost 4 years.

    • Cindy Black on August 24, 2021 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Umar,

      If you are familiar with how to use methods safely you can give it a try.
      Also, try gentle finger pressure on the points frequently throughout the day as that can really help.
      I would not use a needle on SJ-17 as extreme caution is needed on this point – just use gentle finger pressure.

      I hope you get relief!

  2. Vesna on September 12, 2020 at 10:20 pm

    Hi Cindy , I have chronic left ear oozing the lymph liquid . There is no pain or infections involved , hearing is alright. What would you suggest as to stop it . Thank you

    • Cindy Black on September 13, 2020 at 12:01 pm

      Hi Vesna,
      I’m sorry that I cannot offer specific recommendations for your condition. I do working with a health practitioner in-person in order to get the best evaluation and personal attention.
      – Cindy

  3. Alan Aurelia on September 4, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    Dear Cindy, on May 25th 2020 Covid 19 hit me i felt a pop in my left ear and tinnitus. 2 hearing tests showed hearing loss, I also have taste and smell loss. this doesn’t bother me as much because I’m a 69 year old musician and conductor. Self Acupressure seems to help can you advise any particular points to help restore my hearing and or reduce tinnitus.

    Thank you

  4. Ephraim Oakley on August 6, 2018 at 7:59 pm

    Thanks Cindy… really helpful

  5. Barbara Dunn on February 21, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    How much pressure for San Jiaou 3 Between 4 / 5 and how long

  6. Jennifer on April 16, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    Can I do this massage myself or should I seek out an LMT who knows of this specific use? My ears have been popping for nearly 3 months now and antibiotics and steroids have not eliminated it. It’s kinda driving me nuts. An older fellow from church mentioned the chiropractor massaging his neck and in turn, it popped his ear and drained it. Instant relief he said. So I came right home and googled ‘massage and ear aches’ and here I am.

    • Cindy Black on April 16, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      Hi Jennifer,
      I would try these points on myself, as well as asking another person to massage them for me. I am not sure it will bring you relief, but it is definitely worth a try. Using acupoints is a great way to relieve things like stuffy ears. Everyone responds differently – let me know what your experience is.
      You may need to massage these points a few times a day for a few days.

  7. Fatima Shariff on December 28, 2016 at 10:37 am


    • Cindy Black, L.Ac., LMT on December 28, 2016 at 12:08 pm

      Fatima – I hope you feel better soon!

  8. PATRICIA JIMENEZ on October 20, 2016 at 3:34 pm


    • Cindy Black, L.Ac., LMT on October 20, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Hi Patricia – you are most welcome!

      • SOPHIA GRACE TORREZ on November 1, 2016 at 8:08 pm

        I am wondering about the Triple Warmer Meridian. I am confused about it. I am studying your Meridian Massage and am not clear about the Triple Warmer. I find mention of the San Jiao but not the Triple Warmer. Can you clarify this for me. Thank you. Sophia Grace

        • Cindy Black, L.Ac., LMT on November 1, 2016 at 9:21 pm

          Hi Sophia,
          San Jiao meridian is the Triple Warmer meridian. “San” means three, and “Jiao” means burner or warmer – so Triple Warmer is the English translation of the Chinese term, San Jiao.
          I’m glad you clarified!

  9. Genesis M. Roy, LMT, ISHA on October 20, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Thank you Cindy … Once again right on time with the Fall Season, many clients are complaining of stuffy ears and nose …

    • Cindy Black, L.Ac., LMT on October 20, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      Yay! 🙂

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