Daith Piercing for Migraines: Hope or Hype?

I’ll be upfront with you: I’m pretty skeptical about daith piercing for migraines and the supposed benefits. I’ve been reading about this ‘treatment’ - if you can call it that - for a long time now. And I’ve yet to be convinced of the claims.

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Aside from a teeny weeny bit of anecdotal evidence, there are no solid numbers or large-scale studies that support the claim that daith piercing cures migraines.

Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a kind of acupuncture. It isn’t. Out of the 1,120 points in the ears, daith piercing doesn’t coincide with a single point that’s commonly used to treat migraines with acupuncture. (See large image.)

Both Sides Of The Story

Over the years, I’ve read some things that support this treatment, and some that discredit it completely.

Surprisingly, daith piercing for migraines became a ‘thing’ when a mention from one person on social media went viral. For a long time after that, every article that was written about daith piercing was based on that one original social media source. Hardly a very comprehensive piece of research, and it didn’t inspire me with confidence in the validity of the claims.

But I recently read an excellent article in the blog over at Migraine Pal. A small, informal study of 380 participants did produce results that suggest that daith piercing for migraines may have the potential to produce beneficial effects in the early months after the initial piercing.

However, one year on and only 20-30% of the 380 participants still experienced any kind of improvement. More specifically for migraine severity, of that 20-30%:

  • 17% saw an increase
  • 54% stayed the same
  • 25% were somewhat or greatly reduced
  • 4% have no further attacks

Now, since this was such a small study, that 4% represents just one person. But that does of course still get a big yay!

Migraine frequency was also recorded, with:

  • 13% seeing an increase
  • 67% remaining the same
  • 20% seeing a reduction

It might be easier to look at it like this. Here are the survey results from 24 people after 1 year:

Results

Increased

No Change

Reduced

No Further Attacks

Severity

17% (4 people)

54% (12 people)

25% (6 people)

4% (1 person)

Frequency   

13% (3 people)

67% (16 people)

20% (5 people)

4% (1 person)

* Click here for a larger image of the survey results.

Although only small, this study does show that daith piercing for migraines may break the cycle initially. But it only worked for a very small proportion of participants, and doesn’t appear to have long-term, sustainable benefits. Which means you’ll need a more robust, clinically proven treatment program for your long-term migraine management plan.

The Pros And Cons

Based on everything I’ve read (most of which was generated from that one single social media source!), here are the pros and cons of daith piercing for migraines - from my point of view:


Daith Piercing for Migraines

Pros

  • It might help (BIG PRO!)
  • It's inexpensive
  • It might help
  • It might help...

Cons

  • It doesn’t target the points on the ear which are specifically used in acupuncture for the treatment of migraines
  • Instead, daith points relate to the mouth and the anus, neither of which have anything to do with migraines
  • There’s a risk of infection with unsterilized equipment
  • Daith piercing requires diligent aftercare and can take as long as 6 months to heal (by which time any benefits may have worn off)
  • It might not work…
  • …or it might make your migraines worse

According to Live Oak Acupuncture Center

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.” 

This is directly from an acupuncturist.

My Conclusion?

I’m always up for learning about new ways to treat or manage migraines. And I would LOVE it if there really was a cure, for all of the millions of us who suffer these attacks.

But, I’m still yet to be convinced that daith piercing is a viable treatment option for migraines. It’s taken me awhile to write this article because I’ve been waiting to see if any further studies are undertaken, and what their results say. And I’m still waiting!

So, I’d recommend sticking to treatment options that have some good solid evidence behind them - whether they’re medical or alternative treatments.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t try it if you want to. If it appeals to you, or you like how the piercings look, then I recommend you do some thorough research of your own. If you want to give it a try, there’s nothing stopping you. Arm yourself with as many facts as you can find first, though, and only go to a reputable piercing practitioner. And, as always, make sure you consult your healthcare professional before trying something new.

An Alternative To Daith Piercing For Migraines 

If you’re like me and not convinced about daith piercing, here’s something I would recommend instead.

Traditional Chinese medicine uses auricular therapy. This entails stimulating key points in the outer ear - all of which correspond to body parts and functions - with seeds or needles, just like acupuncture. This treats an array of ailments, migraines being one of them.

Since daith piercing for migraines leaves you with a permanent piercing that may or may not be effective, auricular therapy can be a good alternative, or an initial first step. 

You’ll need to find a qualified, experienced acupuncturist if you want to try this. And if it’s effective for you, great! You can carry on with the same therapy - or if it inspires you to try daith piercing for your migraines then that’s your choice too.

Have You Tried Daith Piercing For Migraines?

If so, I’d love to hear how the experience was for you. Did you get good results? Or did it make your migraines worse?

I’ll be keeping an eye out for any new studies that produce results to support the claims for or against daith piercing for migraines. But in the meantime, I’ve concluded that it’s definitely not one for me!


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Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.
I am a migraine sufferer
I care for a migraine sufferer
I am a professional who treats migraineurs
 




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