Does Daith Piercing Work In The Absence Of Studies We Look To The Community For Answers And Insights About The Migraine Piercing
The daith piercing first gained internet fame over a year ago, but unlike most fad treatments it refuses to fade as a hot topic. This is due in part to the sheer number of testimonials available with a wide range of experiences with the ear piercing for migraines.
Even while the internet and migraine community buzz about the possibility of a simple treatment like an ear piercing that can relieve migraine symptoms, most physicians and major nonprofits are skeptical at best.
How does it work? Simply put, the daith ear piercing is done on a very specific point on a fold of cartilage in the ear called the daith.
The theory behind the ear piercing for migraine prevention is rooted in acupuncture. The spot on the fold of cartilage that is pierced is supposed to line up with an acupuncture pressure point that links to the digestion system.
According to a 2020 case report in the medical journal Cureus, “Daith piercing is a form of ear piercing located at the crux of the helix of the ear. While the esthetic piercing of the crux of the helix of the ear has been seen in various cultures around the world, the term ‘daith piercing’ originated in alternate lifestyle communities in the 1990s.”
Western medicine is skeptical that an ear piercing can prevent migraine attacks or relieve migraine pain. Unfortunately, there have been no clinical studies on the piercing to date, so there is little scientific evidence outside of anecdotes to back it up as a migraine treatment.
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Robert Cowan, MD, FAAN, professor of neurology and chief of the headache division at Stanford University, told Migraine Again,
“There is no evidence of which I am aware that supports the use of daith piercing for migraine. There is a very specific acupuncture point on the ear that has to to with the digestive system but it is very tiny and very specific. The hole you make with a piercing is like using a steam shovel for a fence post. There have been no positive double-blinded, placebo-controlled studies to provide clinical support and there is no scientific data to suggest a reason it should work.”
Even so, migraine symptoms drive us to try crazier things than an ear piercing, and the lack of clinical evidence is not stopping many, many people with migraine from giving it a shot.
“The only positive support I have heard has been anecdotal,” said Dr. Cowan. “This usually means that the perceived benefit is placebo . There would be nothing wrong with that if the procedure were safe. In general, all migraine studies have a high placebo rate, so this is not surprising.”
For many, the cost/benefit seems attractive: for $40 to $50 per piercing, it’s less expensive and no more painful than other needle-based therapies we’ve tried for migraine relief. But daith piercings can take a long time to heal and run the risk of infection.
Results 31 Days Post Piercing
OMG! I cannot believe I have gone 31 days headache free! Ive definitely had other migraine symptoms but the headaches are by far the worst and most debilitating.
I can totally function with all the other stuff. So far, if this is at all due to this ear piercing for migraines, Id say its been absolutely worth it.
Honestly, even if it is some strange placebo effect, Ill take it! Its only been 31 days, but I went from 4+ migraine headaches a month, to zero.
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What Is Daith Piercing
A daith piercing is a piercing through the smallest fold of cartilage in your ear, right at the point where the outer ridge that runs along the top of your ear connects to your inner ear, just above the ear canal. Because its a small, curvy piece of cartilage, it can sometimes be hard to pierce, and once its done, most people dont change the jewelry often. It can take months to heal and can easily become infected if not pierced or cared for correctly. Still, some people with migraine have reported that their daith piercing resulted in reduced pain during migraine attacks, leading others to seek out the piercings exclusively for their potential to reduce migraine pain. Its important to note, however, that any reported results are widely believed to be placebo.
Are There Any Side Effects Or Risks To Consider
Theres a lot to consider when deciding to get a tragus piercing. The piercing can be painful for some, and if you ever decide to take it out, itll leave a small mark.
Cartilage piercings are also more likely to get infected than lobe piercings. This may be because cartilage piercings are in closer proximity to your hair and are more likely to get tugged. And if your cartilage does become infected, antibiotics arent always effective.
In some cases, bacterial infections from piercings can lead to or toxic shock syndrome.
Theres also the risk that your piercing wont work. While anecdotal evidence suggests a tragus piercing could relieve migraines, theres no way to know for sure before you try it yourself.
It can take anywhere from four months to a year for a piercing to be considered healed. You shouldnt get this piercing if you have hemophilia, diabetes, an autoimmune condition or any other health condition that takes your body longer to heal.
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Daith Piercing For Migraine Reviews: The Good
With the question is there really a piercing that helps with migraine attacks? buzzing so loudly around the internet, we decided to put it to the largest, most brilliant group of people with migraine we know: the Migraine Again
We’ve received more than 60 responses from real people many of whom are pleased with their daith ear piercing.
Reduced migraine frequency so far.“Over the last year, I’ve had both daiths pierced. I have gone from 5 to12 migraines a month to I’ve had 4 since October I actually needed my meds for.”Jennifer H.
“I’ve suffered from migraines since a head trauma when I was 10. I use yoga, breathing exercises and lots of prayer as no meds ever really helped and I got too many side effects. I choose to get the ear piercing for migraines in both ears about 2 months ago and I’m thrilled so far. When I first notice my aura coming I manipulate my ears and do acupressure and I’ve only had one mild migraine rather than two or three a week. I’m still waiting for a major one to hit for the full test but so far so good.” Theresa H.
Some are even migraine free.“Had migraines since elementary school. Got both ears done with the daith ear piercing in December 2016 and have since come off of Topiramate 200 mg daily. No migraines since having it done. Wish I would’ve done it sooner. The place I had mine done offered numbing to have piercings done, didn’t hurt at all.” Crystal B.
How Does Ear Piercing Relate To Migraines
Migraines are persistent and severe headaches that can cause nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines are a relatively common condition, impacting an estimated 21% of women and 10% of men¹ in the US.
There are numerous treatments available for migraines, including over-the-counter and prescription medications, as well as avoiding triggers when possible. Some people also undergo acupuncture treatment. It involves inserting small, hollow needles around the body to help balance what is referred to as Qi, or energy that flows through the body.
Although there is some evidence to show that acupuncture can cause changes in the brain that produce certain neurological effects, there havent been enough studies to recommend it as a primary treatment for any conditions.
The way that ear-piercing relates to migraines is that some non-medical people claim that the conchal cartilage of the ear is considered a pressure point associated with migraines. Having an ear piercing in that area is thought to put constant pressure on the point, relieving migraines.
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Natural Remedies For Migraines
There are several natural remedies that are proven to help treat migraines, Ahmed says. You should still check in with your doctor before trying these remedies.
Natural treatments that can be effective include:
- Acupuncture uses needles to pierce specific areas of your body to treat pain. Studies show that acupuncture may help you have fewer migraines. A 2016 review of 22 studies found that three months of acupuncture treatment cut the number of migraines cut in half for 57% of participants.
- Acupressure involves using your fingers to press into and stimulate certain pressure points on your body. Certain pressure points on your hands and neck can help relieve the pain from migraines you can find a more in-depth guide for how to use acupressure on yourself here.
- Certain vitamins and minerals may also help to treat migraine pain. One early study found that taking 400mg of the B vitamin riboflavin daily helped cut down the number of migraines patients experienced. A daily dose of 400 to 500mg of magnesium can also help prevent migraines, according to the AMF.
Daith Piercing Reviews: The Bad
Even while some people noticed results with the migraine piercing, many noticed no results, slight results, or only temporary improvement. The following daith piercing reviews for migraines show the negative side.
Relief was only temporary:“It worked for a month or so while there was built-up pressure from the healing of a new piercing. When it was fully healed, it no longer worked the same. But, it provided relief for a few months.” Hannah S.
“The migraine piercing worked at first. Not after it healed. Oh well, I like the piercing anyway.”
Looks cool, but didn’t help.“I had both ears done with the ear piercing for migraines no relief at all for hemiplegic migraines but my migraines are atmosphere-related not digestive. I wish I had read this before I tried it. I know someone who had great results. If you’re not sure I would try it and if nothing else you’ll have a “hip” piercing. Seeing an acupuncturist first is a very good suggestion.” Kimberley G.
“The daith piercing helped slightly. I get better pain relief from occipital nerve block shots.” Joy L.
“Daith piercing didn’t work for me. Acupuncture is next for me. Am forever hopeful that something will work.” Lis M.
“Got the ear piercing for headaches it’s just pretty, didn’t help at all.” Angela M.
“I have Chiari and daily chronic migraines…got the daith and unfortunately didn’t help one bit.” Tanya B.
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Medications To Treat Migraines
In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medication to help treat migraines. In general, there are two types of medications for migraines medications you take when a migraine strikes and everyday medications to prevent migraines, Ahmed says.
When a migraine starts, you can take “basic painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, or a specific treatment like triptans that work on a chemical called serotonin,” Ahmed says. In some cases, these methods may not be enough to control your pain and it may be helpful to visit your doctor to determine if other medications are necessary.
To prevent migraines, a doctor may prescribe medications including:
- Beta blockers like propranolol and metoprolol
- Anticonvulsants like topiramate and divalproex
- Antidepressants like venlafaxine and amitriptyline
- asCGRP inhibitors like Aimovig Emgality, or Ubrelvy
You might also want to consider botox injections for migraines. Botox is a toxin that can stop your nerve endings from releasing pain signals when it’s injected into your skin.
“Botox injections given every three months to prevent chronic migraine has become very popular,” Ahmed says. So far, studies suggest that Botox can significantly reduce migraines and may work as well as preventive medications like topiramate.
If You Suffer From Migraines And Headaches Then Perhaps Consider A Daith Piercing
Since 2015 we have had clients come in regularly requesting daith piercings specifically for the treatment of migraines and headaches. We were a bit sceptical at first, and there is no medical reason why this works. The daith is not actually in an acupressure spot, however, the results have been quite amazing. For the majority of those who get a daith piercing, their migraines either disappear entirely, lessen in severity or decrease in frequency. The side of the head that the migraines/headaches tend to arise from is typically the side of the daith piercing. Alternately you can pierce both daiths to cover all the bases.
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Which Side Should You Get A Daith Piercing For Migraines
You can get a Daith piercing done in one or both ears. Some advocates of Daith piercing suggest that it should be done on the ear which is on the side of the part of your head that pains the most during a migraine. Thus, if you get a left-sided migraine more often, get the piercing done on your left ear. Some experts on Daith piercing suggest that the side where you get the piercing matters more in cases of anxiety-related migraines.
Getting And Caring For A Daith Piercing
If you decide to get a daith piercing, be aware of the piercing procedure and the steps you will need to take to prevent infections and reactions. You must also understand that it can take six months to a year for a daith piercing to fully heal. You should also take some time to decide which type of material you want for your piercings, especially if you have had adverse reactions in the past.
Currently, it is recommended to pick titanium, niobium, surgical steel, gold, platinum, or glass for an initial piercing, as they can all withstand heat and pressure from sterilization and are unlikely to produce allergic reactions or infections.
After you have selected a reputable piercing shop and gotten your piercing, you will need to clean the area frequently to prevent infections. You should use a sterile saline solution for wounds instead of mixing your own saltwater solution, and you should wash your hands before beginning the cleaning process. Rinse the saline solution over the area, either by dripping the saline on the wound or with sterilized gauze.
Finally, dry the area with a clean, disposable paper towel. It is possible to clean the area too much, which can slow the healing process. While your piercing is healing, its important to avoid submerging yourself in lakes, hot tubs, pools, or other bodies of water without a waterproof wound sealant bandage.
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Downsides Of Daith Piercing
Without solid evidence that daith piercing is an effective treatment for migraine headaches, experts cannot recommend it. What’s more, the practice has a number of negative aspects, including but not limited to:
- Pain at the time of the piercing: It’s typically more difficult to pierce through cartilage than the less-resistant flesh of the ear lobe.
- Recovery: It takes longer for cartilage to fully heal.
- High risk of infection: There’s less blood flow to cartilage, which makes it harder for white blood cells to arrive at the site of an infection to ward it off.
- Allergic reaction: Certain metals can cause an allergic reaction in people predisposed to them.
What Are The Risk Factors In Daith Piercings
Just like other piercings, daith piercing has also got its own set of risks.
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Is It A Placebo Effect
When a treatment works simply because a person believes its working, researchers chalk up results to a psychological phenomenon called the placebo effect. According to some headache specialists, thats whats happening with ear cartilage piercings for migraines.
But since acupuncture for migraines is shown to work better than a placebo, and cartilage piercings for migraine are operating from a similar theory, we really cant know the answer. More research is needed to determine whether tragus piercings have the potential to treat migraines.
Should I Get A Daith Piercing
That depends on who you ask. Overall, the experts in the field seem divided on whether a daith piercing is a worthwhile treatment option.
Dr. Blatchley suggests that his migraine patients try it if they’re curious . There is no guarantee it will work after all, 60% of the people in his study didn’t notice any long-term benefit but it’s relatively inexpensive and low risk, he says. After all, you can always remove the piercing if there is no effect or it has difficulty healing, he adds.
On the other hand, despite having some patients report benefits, Dr. Kuruvilla believes that the risks outweigh any benefit. “I have seen become easily infected, and at times, has resulted in a visit to the emergency room for urgent antibiotic treatment,” says Dr. Kuruvilla.
Instead, she recommends integrative medicine using vitamins and minerals, magnesium, and riboflavin, which have been studied and found to be effective for those with migraines. Acupuncture has also been studied for migraine relief and may prove to be more effective at hitting those acupressure points with the help of a professional.
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