Migraines and Daith Piercings

Daith piercings are a specific type of ear piercing. The ear cartilage midline toward the front of the ear is pierced. This type of ear piercing has been around for 3,000 years, but the name for this type of piercing was probably started in the 1990’s. The placement of the piercing is at the entrance to the ear canal and has symbolic meaning as the “Guardian to the Gate.” These piercing can be quite painful since they are through bony cartilage, and care must be given to keep them clean and to prevent infection.

Daith Peircing

Migraines are a vascular type of headache. They occur more commonly in women and sometimes have a very specific trigger, such as certain foods. 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 is warranted.

Post Story Edit

This post has received an incredible amount of views in the last few months, and many people have spoken out about their experience with a Daith piercing. However, I am a little disappointed to how some people are quick to chastise this option, saying it isn’t rooted in any concrete evidence. Many of those people likely saw the headline or skimmed the article and assumed I was simply trying get people to shell out more money for an unproven option that, in their opinion, can at best provide some pseudo-placebo effect. Having read their comments and seen stories refuting Daith piercings, I just wanted to clarify some misconceptions.

First, anyone who read the above post can clearly see that we’re not saying this is a well-studied, documented and thoroughly researched alternative. Hopefully we can find more hard evidence, and scientists are learning more every day about the underlying reasons why regionalized stimulation may help with headaches. I wrote a recent post that sheds more light on the role the vagus nerve plays in the equation and how the medical community is continuing to search for concrete answers.

Secondly, unless you’ve walked a mile in the shoes of someone who suffers from chronic pain or headaches, please don’t be quick to chastise potential solutions. Like many of this site’s readers, I deal with chronic pain (in my back), and at times I find myself at my wit’s end trying to manage and control pain. People who are considering a Daith piercing for their headache pain aren’t considering it as their first option, odds are they’ve seen specialists, tried therapies and medications, avoided certain trigger activities, altered their diets and their sleep schedules or undertaken a myriad of other treatments that haven’t solved their problems. Pain is a very personal issue, and having someone belittle a potential treatment technique, which appears to have worked for some commenters, adds nothing positive to the goal of solving the pain problem. Hope and belief that pain can be resolved is a key aspect of findings pain relief, and while people are certainly entitled to be wary of options lacking concrete medical evidence, I only ask that you consider the person in pain’s perspective before you belittle or demean their curiosity to this relatively new treatment avenue. I’m not trying to quell dissent and I thoroughly enjoy reasoned arguments on both sides of the spectrum, and I completely understand why it’s important to be hesitant of unfounded medical treatments, but if we ignored all potential solutions in their early stages simply because they had yet to be fully researched, the medical world would never evolve. 

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Cohn