How This Helps

There are many types of headaches, with each one causing its own set of symptoms. Migraine is one such neurological condition known for causing debilitating headaches. In many people, migraine headaches are also accompanied by vomiting, nausea, sensitivity to sound, light, noises, and visual changes. The symptoms of migraine are known to cause a huge disruption in your day to day life, and in many cases, the symptoms tend to last for several days. If you suffer from migraines, then it is highly likely that you would be willing to try just about anything to help stop the pain.[1] 

In recent times, the subject of Daith piercings has become popular as a form of treatment for migraine headaches. This unconventional approach to treating migraines focuses on piercing the fold of cartilage that is located above the entrance to your ear canal. Read on to find out about this migraine piercing and if ear piercing for headaches actually works.[2]

What is a Daith Piercing?

Daith piercing is a type of piercing that is done in the innermost cartilage fold of your ear. It is believed to have begun in the 1990s. This is a specialized type of ear piercing that supposedly helps with headaches. It is done in the ear cartilage midline that is present at the front of your ear. Daith ear piercing is done right at the point where the outer ridge located along the top of the ear connects to the inner ear. It is placed just above your ear canal. 

Since this cartilage is small and curvy, it can prove to be difficult to pierce, and once it is done, it will not be like any other body piercing where you can change the jewelry regularly.[3] Daith piercing can sometimes take several months to heal, and it can also easily become infected if the ear piercing is not done correctly or if you don't take proper care of the piercing afterward.[4] 

At the same time, there is presently no scientific evidence to show that Daith piercings can help alleviate migraine pain. There is, however, no shortage of anecdotal evidence supporting this method of relieving migraines.

See: Migraines vs Headaches treatment

How does Daith Ear Piercing Help with Migraine?

The underlying connection between Daith piercing that helps with migraines is believed to be acupuncture. Acupuncture is an ancient traditional Chinese therapy that focuses on treating various health conditions by applying pressure on particular points on the body with tiny needles.[5, 6]

For many people who suffer from chronic migraines, acupuncture has emerged as a popular alternative treatment. Additionally, in acupuncture, the ear has also been identified as one of the many pressure points that are used in treating headaches and migraines.[7, 8] 

Similar to acupuncture, Daith piercing and Tragus piercing for migraines have emerged as an alternative treatment for migraines during the mid-2010s. Proponents of this treatment technique firmly believe that Daith piercing works by activating a specific pressure point in the ear that directly helps alleviate the symptoms of migraine.[9]

The Daith piercing targets the area near the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve travels from your brain to several other organs and controls many of the body's hormones. Stimulating the vagus nerve is, therefore, believed to help treat headaches.[10,11]

Daith piercing that helps with migraines is believed to work on the premise that wearing an earring in the 'Daith' point of the ear will provide constant compression on that pressure point. This is supposed to relieve migraine pain. Many supporters of Daith ear piercing that helps with migraines believe in this theory because they have earlier tried acupuncture at the same pressure point and found it to be an effective remedy for their headaches.[12] 

Nevertheless, this entire theory of Daith piercing pain relief for migraine hinges on the fact that a very precise pressure point has to be punctured. This is unlikely to be possible without the guidance of an expert acupuncturist, and even then, achieving the exact preciseness, not a guarantee to relief from migraines.[13]

See: Yoga asanas for migraine pain relief

Scientific research on the Daith Piercing & Migraine

What does Science say on the Daith Piercing Migraine Relief Link?

In 2017, a study found that the participant experienced significant relief in migraine symptoms after getting a Daith ear piercing. However, the researching team concluded that further clinical studies were required to firmly establish the link between Daith ear piercing and migraines.[2] 

At the same time, though, the research team also expressed concern about the risks associated with Daith piercing and the possibility that relief from headaches and other migraine symptoms could very well be due to a placebo effect. 

Another study that looked at several alternative treatments for chronic headaches also concluded that there was a lack of evidence on whether Daith ear piercing for headaches were actually effective in preventing migraines and headaches. The research team did not recommend Daith piercings.[14]

See: Migraine With Aura Symptoms & Natural Treatments

Daith piercing risks

Risks Associated with Daith Piercing

There are several risks associated with any type of body piercings.[15] However, cartilage piercings are usually perceived to be far riskier than the usual earlobe piercings. There are many complications associated with Daith piercings, including:

·        Bleeding

·        Infection

·        Scarring

·        Swelling

·        Lingering pain

·        Worsening of migraine symptoms

·        Having to remove the infected cartilage

·        Development of an abscess

Many leading headache specialists worldwide believe that the heightened risks of getting a Daith piercing and unproven benefits make it a sham therapy. Research studies or evidence demonstrating benefits for migraine is nonexistent. 

Most of the positive results achieved from a Daith piercing are believed to be due to a placebo effect that is temporary. In many cases, piercing the fold of cartilage above the ear canal can actually worsen the migraine symptoms in the long term.[16]

See: Waking up with a headache or migraine

Summary

Conclusion

Leading researchers and the American Migraine Foundation believe that any positive results from a Daith piercing are only temporary and likely due to the placebo effect.[17] This is why they do not recommend Daith piercings as a form of treatment for migraines and chronic headaches. There is also no research to indicate that Daith ear piercings help relieve the symptoms of migraine. Daith piercings are very difficult to do, and if done improperly, it can result in an infection and many other side effects. It is always better to talk to your doctor to get help with your migraine symptoms. Many other well-researched alternative therapies can help you manage migraine attacks effectively. Some of these options include Ayurveda, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, auriculotherapy, and biofeedback.

See: Migraine Supplements

References

1. Blumenfeld, A.E., Victorio, M.C. and Berenson, F.R., 2016, February. Complicated migraines. In Seminars in pediatric neurology (Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 18-22). WB Saunders.

2. Cascio Rizzo, A., Paolucci, M., Altavilla, R., Brunelli, N., Assenza, F., Altamura, C. and Vernieri, F., 2017. Daith piercing in a Case of Chronic Migraine: a possible Vagal Modulation. Frontiers in neurology, 8, p.624.

3. Larkin, B.G., 2004. The ins and outs of body piercing. AORN Journal, 79(2), pp.330-342.

4. Meltzer, D.I., 2005. Complications of body piercing. American family physician, 72(10), pp.2029-2034.

5. Kaptchuk, T.J., 2002. Acupuncture: theory, efficacy & practice. Annals of internal medicine, 136(5), pp.374-383.

6. Deadman, P., Al-Khafaji, M., and Baker, K., 1998. A manual of acupuncture (pp. 256-325). East Sussex, UK: Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications. 

7. Bäcker, M., Grossman, P., Schneider, J., Michalsen, A., Knoblauch, N., Tan, L., Niggemeyer, C., Linde, K., Melchart, D. and Dobos, G.J., 2008. Acupuncture in migraine: investigation of autonomic effects. The Clinical journal of pain, 24(2), pp.106-115.

8. Endres, H.G., Diener, H.C., and Molsberger, A., 2007. Role of acupuncture in the treatment of migraine. Expert review of neurotherapeutics, 7(9), pp.1121-1134.

9. Allais, G., Romoli, M., Rolando, S., Gabellari, I.C., and Benedetto, C., 2010. Ear acupuncture in unilateral migraine pain. Neurological Sciences, 31(1), pp.185-187.

10. Mauskop, A., 2005. Vagus nerve stimulation relieves chronic refractory migraine & cluster headaches. Cephalalgia, 25(2), pp.82-86.

11. Silberstein, S.D., Calhoun, A.H., Lipton, R.B., Grosberg, B.M., Cady, R.K., Dorlas, S., Simmons, K.A., Mullin, C., Liebler, E.J., Goadsby, P.J. and Saper, J.R., 2016. Chronic migraine headache prevention with noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation: The EVENT study. Neurology, 87(5), pp.529-538.

12. Kim, J.H., Lee, J.D., Choi, D.Y., Ahn, B.C., Park, D.S., and Lee, Y.H., 2000. Clinical study of Acupuncture effect on Chronic Headache. Journal of Acupuncture Research, 17(3), pp.1-9. 

13. Romoli, M., Allais, G., Airola, G., and Benedetto, C., 2005. Ear acupuncture in the control of migraine pain: selecting the right acupoints by the "needle-contact test." Neurological Sciences, 26(2), pp.s158-s161.

14. Paolini, B., Granetzke, L., and Wells, R.E., 2019. Complementary and Alternative Approaches to Chronic Daily Headache: Part II—Manipulation-Based Therapies & Other CAM Therapies. In Chronic Headache (pp. 253-272). Springer, Cham.

15. Stirn, A., 2003. Body piercing: medical consequences and psychological motivations. The Lancet, 361(9364), pp.1205-1215.

16. Priyanka, B., Eukesh, R., Amit, S., Davis, D., and Careyana, B., 2020. Daith Piercing: Wonder Treatment or Untested Fad?. Cureus, 12(2).

17. Americanmigrainefoundation.org. 2020. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 May 2020].

See: Ayurveda Treatment for Migraine

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