In the past few years there’s been a lot of interest in the proposal that getting a daith piercing could relieve migraine pain for the many migraine sufferers who struggle with attacks on an all too frequent basis. The daith piercing is a piercing through a small piece of cartilage in the inner ear. On the plus side they are relatively inexpensive and can be as decorative or as subtle as you like. On the negative side they can also take a long time to heal, run the risk of infection, and not all migraine sufferers who have had a daith piercing has found the piercing to be effective.
Supporters of the daith piercing for pain relief suggest that acupuncture principals (the insertion of needles into the body for the purposes of pain relief) may be part of the reason why a daith piercing can be effective.
The daith piercing is said to correspond to an acupressure point within the ear that lines up with the digestive system. For this reason it might be worth investigating whether a daith piercing would have positive effects for you by visiting an acupuncturist first. As well as using traditional acupuncture to gauge if the piercing might help, some acupuncturists can also place a stud on the daith pressure point which can be worn for a few weeks to see if the piercing might be effective.
However, some migraine researchers consider that the relief cited by some sufferers who’ve had a daith piercing and found migraine relief is down to the placebo effect.
Whatever the reason for relief, one of the big questions about daith piercings has to be how many people find a daith piercing effective?
One anonymous survey by Carl Cincinnato of MigrainePal found that his informal survey (of 380 daith-pierced respondents) had 47% experiencing a decrease in the frequency of their migraines, although 48% said that their frequency stayed the same.
Another study by the London Migraine Clinic (who are one clinic who offer the treatment) found that 75% of their patients found their migraines to be “greatly improved” or that they “no longer have them”. In addition to this 49% of the patients who had the piercing who had been taking triptans before their piercing said they were able to stop them taking them. The study author did add that 11% reported “no obvious change”, and that more research was needed to explore the non-responder rate, the rate at which the effect does or does not wear off, and the extent of the placebo effect.
Finally, if you’re considering trying a daith piercing to relieve your migraines, the London Migraine Clinic recommend that it’s worth bearing in mind that the piercing needs to pass through “the small and easily missed area of the ear innervated by the vagus nerve. Since the effectiveness of the piercing may well depend on vagus nerve stimulation, the exact location of the piercing is likely to be very important and this requires a precise technique.”