Help Us Learn More About Daith Piercings

daith piercingThe internet is a wonderful thing. Not only has it made it easier for patients to find information, but it has also allowed doctors who would never otherwise meet to connect with one another. The latter recently happened with us.

As we’ve mentioned on the blog before, our posts on daith piercings have far and away been our most popular, which is interesting because the science behind why the piercing may help alleviate headache pain isn’t perfectly clear. However, we are working on changing that. Recently, we were contacted by Dr. Chris Blatchley from across the pond at the London Migraine Clinic. Dr. Blatchley has been helping patients find relief from migraine pain for years, and he has worked closely with a colleague who has performed more than 3,000 daith piercings. He stumbled upon our fascination with the piercing, and combined with his own experience, Dr. Blatchley has decided to try to compile some concrete evidence about why the piercing is effective for some patients.

Daith Piercing Study

To best do this, Dr. Blatchley put together a survey questionnaire on his website London-Migraine-Clinic.co.uk. On his website, he has a link to the survey which he hopes to use to gather responses from individuals who have undergone a daith piercing for pain relief. You can access the survey by clicking the link that will take you to his site, or you can go directly to the survey by clicking the link below.

Daith Piercing Questionnaire

The survey will only take a couple of minutes to complete, but we believe it will be a valuable tool for getting a collection of responses from individuals who have firsthand experience with the piercing and its effects. So please, if you’ve undergone the procedure, take a few minutes to complete the survey and share it with others who have received the piercing. The more we learn about pain pathways, the more pain we can take out of this world!

Thanks,

Dr. Thomas Cohn

Headaches, Daith Piercings, and the Vagus Nerve

42212395_lOn November 28th, Science News published an interesting article on the science of the vagus nerve in the human body. It is the tenth cranial nerve in the body traveling from the brain to multiple organs in the body. It has thousand of fibers, and it influences functions throughout the body from the stomach and intestines to the heart and brain. The nerve has fibers that travel relatively superficially through the neck and in the skin of the ear. Stimulation of the vagus nerve in the neck has been used for a variety of disorders including many stomach and gastrointestinal problems as well as depression and seizures. Now the ear is the focus of treatment of number of problems by stimulating the vagus nerve as it travels in the region of the tragus of the ear.

The Vagus Nerve and Headaches

Headaches are extremely common. Many people struggle with the management of chronic daily headaches. Drugs are often not the answer, and can oftentimes make headaches worse. A lot of people also do not want to be putting more chemicals into their body. Finding suitable alternatives is difficult. Treatments for headaches run the gamut from diets to all kinds of supplements to stress management. Alternative medicine also has a number of treatments from chiropractic adjustment to acupuncture. Now there may be link to why these therapies work in terms of traditional medical knowledge, it is not just a coincidence they are effective.

Daith piercings and regionalized acupuncture for headache relief may now have a scientific root in the vagus nerve. This nerve has sensory branches that travel in the ear in the region of where the targets for acupuncture are and where a Daith piercing is placed. Electrical stimulation of the ear and vagus nerve has been done to treat headaches, depression, memory loss, and seizures. The vagus nerve has control over a variety of the body’s hormones, including acetylcholine and norepinephrine. The balance of these hormones can be affected by stimulating branches of the vagus nerve. Electrical or mechanical stimulation in the ear can accomplish changes to the branch of the vagus nerve and thus affect any process influenced by this nerve. Headaches have been known to be affected by vagal stimulation, and some have found pain relief through nerve stimulation.

As noted above, some headaches respond to vagal stimulation and improve, while others don’t. There are multiple ways to stimulate the nerve – electrical stimulation, mechanical stimulation as well as medication stimulation. Acupuncture, massage and Daith piercings provide mechanical stimulation of the region and possibly the nerve. Some varieties may respond to different types of stimulation. If your headaches have a vagal component, probably ear massage, electrical stimulation or acupuncture trials will determine if this may be helpful. If those work, consideration of Daith piercing for headaches may be aligned with your treatment strategies. If the above is not helpful, working with a neurologist, a  headache specialist or pain specialist may also be helpful to find other solutions.