Can You Treat Migraine With An Earring?
In online discussions about migraine in the unfiltered depths of the internet, the subject of daith piercings as a form of treatment comes up again and again. This unconventional approach, while rooted in the same principles as acupuncture, is a hotly debated route to relief that some migraine patients swear by. The question everyone wants to know is if this treatment method holds any water. In short, the answer is no. But there are few authoritative sources that go into detail to explain why. Here’s everything you need to know about daith piercings, plus some feedback from our Facebook community on the piercing.
What is daith piercing?
A daith piercing is a piercing through the smallest fold of cartilage in your ear, right at the point where the outer ridge that runs along the top of your ear connects to your inner ear, just above the ear canal. Because it’s a small, curvy piece of cartilage, it can sometimes be hard to pierce, and once it’s done, most people don’t change the jewelry often. It can take months to heal and can easily become infected if not pierced or cared for correctly. Still, some people with migraine have reported that their daith piercing resulted in reduced pain during migraine attacks, leading others to seek out the piercings exclusively for their potential to reduce migraine pain. It’s important to note, however, that any reported results are widely believed to be placebo.
What does a daith piercing have to do with migraine?
Acupuncture is a common treatment for migraine, and some claim there is an acupuncture pressure point on the same spot in the ear that corresponds to the digestive system. This theory first spread on social media and was popularized on Facebook and Pinterest. Dr. Will Foster, an acupuncturist in Knoxville, Tennessee, confirms that this is a pressure point associated with digestive organs in that part of the ear. The belief is that wearing an earring in your daith provides constant compression to that pressure point, which many believe can relieve pain, especially if acupuncture in the same spot has been effective for you in the past. But Foster noted that this theory hinges on a piercer puncturing a very precise pressure point, which is unlikely to be achieved without an acupuncturist’s guidance, and even then, could not guarantee relief.
What are the risks of daith piercing?
According to the leading headache specialists, researchers and advocates in the United States, the risks of a daith piercing far outweigh the reward. Any “results” from the treatment are believed to be attributable to the placebo effect, meaning they are temporary and psychological rather than physical. In addition, the piercing itself is often painful and carries a high risk of infection. It may even make migraine symptoms worse in the long run. The Cleveland Clinic says there is no evidence to support the claim that daith piercings help relieve migraine. In addition, the American Migraine Foundation firmly believes that seeking piercing from a nonmedical third party is not a solution to migraine pain. Please visit our website to learn about alternative treatment options.
Is there any scientific proof or research supporting daith piercing as pain treatment?
No. While some people with migraine say they have experienced relief from their symptoms after getting a daith piercing, the only evidence that supports this is purely anecdotal, and there is no research that supports that theory. The American Migraine Foundation believes that many results are temporary and may be a product of the placebo effect, so it does not recommend daith piercings as a treatment strategy in light of potential risks like infection and pain. For more discussion about daith piercings and what others who have tried them say, visit the Move Against Migraine Facebook group.
Reviewed for accuracy by the American Migraine Foundation’s subject matter experts, headache specialists and medical advisers with deep knowledge and training in headache medicine. Click here to read about our editorial board members.