Migraine is a primary headache disorder manifesting as recurring attacks, usually lasting for 4 to 72 hours and involving pain of moderate to severe intensity. Typical characteristics of the headache are unilateral location, pulsating quality, moderate or severe intensity, and aggravation by routine physical activity. Sufferers may also experience auras, photophobia, phonophobia, nausea and vomiting. Migraine is a common disorder as research show and it attacks 2.5 times higher in women than men.
People with migraine can be treated when the attacks occur, but some need prophylactic interventions, as their attacks are either too frequent or are insufficiently controlled in this way. Several drugs are used in the prophylaxis of migraine in an attempt to reduce attack frequency, but all these drugs are associated with adverse effects.
Reason behind daith piercing migraine
As many as one in five Americans suffer from chronic migraine headaches, an episodic condition caused by a lack of consistent treatment options. Many migraine sufferers struggle to avoid known triggers but inevitably experience periodic episodes. Perhaps owing to the hit-and-miss nature of migraine treatment, anecdotal claims about preventing, alleviating, or even stopping migraines altogether abound online.
In mid-2015, sufferers began spreading an article that maintained a specific kind of ear piercing (daith piercing) could alleviate migraines. The article was published by a student-run web site at State University of New York (SUNY) Purchase and titled “A ‘Piercing’ New Alternative for Migraine Relief”
How acupuncture can help
There have now been many controlled trials of acupuncture for migraine, with some large, high-quality ones in recent years. The acupuncture is significantly better than no treatment/basic care for managing migraine, and appears to be at least as effective as prophylactic drug therapy, with few contraindications or unpleasant side effects.
Acupuncture has a similar or slightly better effect than sham procedures, which themselves can perform as well as conventional drugs, indicating that sham acupuncture is not an inactive placebo but a contentious alternative intervention. Acupuncture has been found to be cost-effective. As well as prevention it may also be used to alleviate symptoms in acute attacks. There is preliminary qualitative evidence from patients that acupuncture can increase coping mechanisms as well as relieve migraine symptoms.
Migraine is thought to begin as an electrical phenomenon in the cerebrum that then affects blood vessels, biochemistry, and causes neurogenic inflammation.
Acupuncture can help in the treatment of migraine by:
- Providing pain relief – by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, acupuncture leads to release of endorphins and other neurochumoral factors and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.
- Reducing inflammation – by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.
- Reducing the degree of cortical spreading depression.
- Modulating extra-cranial and intra-cranial blood flow.
- Affecting serotonin (5-hydroxytriptamine) levels in the brain.
With an open mind these [migraine treatment] alternatives are capable of being the answer, and there is a new one on the market, which is simple, inexpensive, and doubles as a piece of jewelry.
Daith piercing migraine
The daith piercing is a small ring that pierces the inner cartilage of either ear, running through a pressure point, which for some will relive migraine pain. It is a relatively new procedure, mainly preformed at tattoo and piercing shops with not many statistics to back it up yet.
Those who are specialized in headache relief, says that they always encourage their patients to try things like this as alternative relief measures to medication. It could just be too new, and in the blogs, but often that’s where these things get started.
Evidence presented about the efficacy of daith piercings for migraine relief was purely anecdotal and the source of the claim unclear. Many people go around looking for daith piercing migraine relief. It’s a much cheaper alternative to medicine and even acupuncture, and many of their doctors recommend it to them, and if you’re into piercings that’s even better.
Essentially it’s the same concept as acupuncture, the piercing hits a pressure point which then relieves the pressure in your head. Those who know recommend getting it done on the ear that corresponds with the side of your head where most of your migraines hit.
In the long run it’s a tossup, it may not cure your headaches but you will be left with an ear piercing. Hence, you win some you lose some.
Daith piercing migraine compared to medication
At this juncture, it’s worth noting a specific aspect of the daith piercing migraine claim. While body modification may be inexpensive as compared to other alternative health options, it involves an aesthetic commitment that might not appeal to sufferers.
Slightly less common than ear lobe piercings, a daith piercing likely wouldn’t physically harm a patient desperate for relief, but many sufferers could feel pressured to try it despite personal considerations (such as employer dress codes or discomfort with a cartilage piercing).
Does Daith Piercing Help Migraine
The severe headache usually appears as a throbbing pain at the front or side of the head and often causes feelings of nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light and sound. But a growing number of migraine sufferers believe they may have found an unusual way to ease symptoms: daith piercings.
A daith piercing is a piercing in the innermost cartilage fold of the ear. Advocates say it works in the same way as acupuncture, targeting pressure points on the body’s surface to ease discomfort. Many people on social media have come forward to share their positive experiences of getting a daith piercing.
What people say
The managing director from Arizona said on facebook that: “I’ve now had this (piercing) for over six months and can honestly admit that is has worked for me. I have seen a reduction in frequency and intensity of my migraines where nothing else seemed to help. My husband noticed it before I did (and that’s saying something). Maybe I just wasn’t willing to admit that it was actually working.
“Since getting it, I think I’ve had less than five migraines. Only one of those has actually made me fully non functional for a day. I’ve dramatically reduced my use of drugs to deal with the migraines.”
Natalie Thompson is another fan of the procedure. When he appeared on BBC radio Leicester, she described how she’s had a constant headache for the past three and a half years, as well as regular migraines.
She appeared on the show four weeks after getting a daith piercing migraine. “My headache has gone from a five or six out of 10 down to a three. It’s still there, I’m not headache free. I’m still on the medication and I haven’t changed anything that the consultants have given me. But since the piercing it has dropped considerably.” She said.
So, does the piercing really work?
There isn’t a lot of hard science behind the correlation between daith piercings and headache relief. Some people have found relief with this method, but it certainly won’t work for everybody. Although daith piercings appear to be a recent trend, the location of the piercing has actually been targeted by acupuncturists to help cure headaches in the past.
“Acupuncturists target this area during sessions, and many people experience short-term headache relief after treatment,” he says. Simon Evans, CEO of Migraine Action, also points out that daith piercings may not work for everyone.
“We are always pleased when people gain some measure of relief from their migraine. Migraine is a term covering a range of similar conditions in which headache can be a symptom,” he tells Huff Post UK Lifestyle.
What you should know about daith piercing migraines
- The daith does not come anywhere close to stimulating points that acupuncture experts use to treat migraine headaches.
- Clinical experience suggests that body piercings offer temporary (1-2 weeks) therapeutic benefit at best. They definitely do not represent a long term cure for any condition, including migraines.
- The daith is an advanced piercing that is often done incorrectly and with inappropriate jewelry. A bad piercing and/or the wrong jewelry are likely to result in excessive pain and serious problems with healing, including the formation of unsightly (and sometimes permanent) bumps around the piercing, as well as potentially serious infections.
- All cartilage piercings require diligent aftercare (including daily washing and soaking with saline) for the entire six month period of time that it takes to heal. During the healing period ear buds and swimming must be avoided.
Most of this is not exactly unfamiliar territory to those having normal ear piercing. Ear infections are not only painful but far too close to the brain and other delicate structures to be allowed to develop. However, we understand that this type of piercing in this area is slightly more dangerous, although for a professional assessment you might have to talk to someone who specializes in this kind of work.
We would be remiss if we did not mention that traditional acupuncture has a good record in treating migraines, as our factsheet shows
Daith Piercing Migraine
Just because a topic is getting a lot of attention on social media, doesn’t make it reputable news. I haven’t seen any links to The New York Times, Washington Post, or any other leading newspaper. It hasn’t been on the evening news. It’s so new and unproven that it hasn’t even made it onto a daytime medical TV show! You would think that if there really was something to this procedure, some big shot journalist would have run with it by now.
The claims that daith piercing works are based on the assumption that the piercing is in the same location is used by acupuncturists to treat headache pain. Even if we assume that migraine involves a headache which isn’t the case, I find it doubtful that some tattoo artist or piercing technician can accurately pinpoint an acupressure point.
Not one article has interviewed an acupuncturist. The lack of comment from these practitioners is either glaringly bad journalism or unwillingness on the part of acupuncturists to be associated with this unproven fad. So I started digging through old school books and checked out some reputable websites for a listing of commonly used acupuncture points.
I can find no evidence of a documented or widely used acupuncture point in that anatomical location. There are points above and below the cartilage ridge that are used for digestive issues. There is also a point on the ridge itself, called Point Zero or Wonderful Point.
Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that acupuncture at this point stimulates a return to homeostasis. To impact this point, the piercing would have to go through the ridge in a horizontal line perpendicular to the body. Daith piercings simply do not impact a single acupuncture point that would have any impact on the neurological condition of migraine.
Is it acupuncture? Does acupuncture help migraine?
There have been a lot of anecdotes about the success of acupuncture in treating migraine. It’s been studied in clinical trials numerous times and shown to be slightly better than a sham procedure. The difference is so slim that it is not recommended as a first line treatment.
However, some patients who are uncomfortable with medical treatments or unresponsive to these treatments may consider trying acupuncture. Many headache specialists view acupuncture as a “can’t hurt, might help” therapy. There is no clear evidence that it works. There is also no clear evidence that it doesn’t.
Tragus Piercing for Migraine Relief
Management of these headaches can be quite simple, from avoiding specific triggers to the use of Excedrin. However, sometimes those management techniques prove ineffective, making the headache hard to treat. One of the non-traditional treatments beyond medication has been acupuncture. One of the areas of needle placement has been in the ear, and commonly in the same general area where Daith piercings are placed.
Recently, some people who have received a Daith piercing have coincidentally found improvement with their migraine headaches. It is not universal, and it is has not been studied formally. The correlation is based on the success for some people with acupuncture in the same region of the Daith piercing.
If a person enjoys ear piercing and suffers from frequent headaches, it may be worthwhile to consider getting this spot pierced. Since body piercings are generally less than $100, this may be a very economical treatment alternative. If you suffer migraines and are very unsure whether you want a piercing, trying acupuncture first would be a good alternative to determine if this treatment may be successful.
If this is not working, and the migraines are not being well managed, further discussions with your medical practitioner about treatment options are warranted.
Daith Piercing for Anxiety
These terrible headaches can be triggered by everyday tasks, eating certain foods, or even fluorescent lighting and excessive noise. While scientists aren’t sure why they affect some people and not others, there doesn’t seem to be a one size fits all cure for them so sufferers are left to try pill after pill and treatment after treatment. And while some of these alternatives help some, others are left frustrated- but eager for the next possibility is to enter the daith piercing migraine.
Daith Ear Cartilage Piercing
The process takes about 10 minutes and costs around $45. While acupuncture works for some, and this process is similar, it costs FAR less because it’s a onetime cost. Again, the piercing is similar to acupuncture in that the piercing hits a pressure point which relieves the pressure in your head. Some acupuncturist will also embed a little steel ball into a pressure point.
When you are feeling stress, nausea, a headache- whatever the pressure point is being used for- you simply push on it for relief. I cannot imagine what it must be like to suffer from regular migraines or even headaches, so this seems worth a try. Plus, if it doesn’t work, you’ve got a pretty sweet piercing.
Daith Piercing for Migraines Reviews
There has been a lack of information and efficient data about the daith piercing for too long. Thanks to many wonderful people in our community at Migraine Pal, we’ve been able to conduct exclusive research with 380 individuals with migraine and the daith piercing to find out just how effective it is.
A special type of daith ear piercing has been circling in the press and social media as a potential migraine treatment. But does it really work? When it comes to actually getting all the facts, it can be difficult separating hype from reality.
Here’s what you need to know about daith piercing migraines
A daith piercing is a piercing located in the innermost cartilage fold of the ear. It’s a specific type of piercing in the ear cartilage midline toward the front of the ear. This type of piercing has been done for thousands of years, but can be quite painful due to the bony cartilage and care is required to keep it clean and prevent infections.
As many of us know, when traditional approaches for treatment fail we often turn to complementary alternatives.
Acupuncture is a common alternative approach. Supporters claim the daith piercing is effective because it occurs on the same pressure point on the ear that is used by acupuncturists to treat migraine.
Acupuncture for migraines
There are at least 22 trials have investigated acupuncture in treating migraine headache. 6 trials have looked at adding acupuncture to an existing treatment regime. The findings showed those who had acupuncture had fewer headaches.
14 trials compared true acupuncture to placebo or fake acupuncture treatments where needles were inserted superficially and did not penetrate the skin or at incorrect points. In these trials both groups had fewer headaches than before treatment, but there was no difference between the effects of these two treatments.
In 4 trials where acupuncture was compared to a proven medicinal treatment, participants receiving the acupuncture treatment reported a noticeable improvement in their condition and fewer side effects.
Medical science suggests acupuncture for migraine holds little risk but the true clinical efficacy remains unclear despite extensive research. Whether these benefits translate across to a piercing in a pressure point location is another matter entirely.
What do the experts think?
With several practice locations around NSW raised a few interesting points:
- The upper insertion point of the Daith piercing seems to correspond with the large intestine point used in Chinese auricular acupuncture. Large intestine channel points are often selected for the treatment of headaches and migraines, and other forms of head pain, due to that channel’s pathway across the face; however the large intestine ear point is not one commonly used for these complaints.
- There are other points on the ear which are more important for the treatment of migraine. Other points near the Daith piercing location target the small intestine, appendix, mouth and esophagus – similarly, none of which have a particular affinity with the head or migraines.
- Another thing to note is the location of acupuncture points on the ear is very specific. If the piercer was intending to pierce one of these points, they would really need to know how to accurately locate the point.
- Would there be any issue with having a permanent structure, or hole, at the site of an acupuncture point? I can’t say for sure, but there are plenty of examples of traditional techniques for altering the tissues at the site of a point. These include scaring the point by cutting, burning or chemically irritating the site with herbal pastes. These techniques would leave a permanent scar over the point.