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Daith Piercings for Migraine: An Experimental Intervention

A Daith piercing is a specific type of ear piercing in which the ear’s innermost cartilage fold (i.e. the crus of helix) is penetrated and pierced with a specialized curved needle.  According to experts, for a piercing to qualify as a legitimate “Daith piercing” – it must be performed such that the bottom part of the ring appears to emerge directly from the ear canal.

In other words, if the entrance and exit hole of the ring are visible, then the piercing is not an actual Daith.  Daith piercings are said to have been co-invented by Erik Dakota (a piercer based in California) and a Jewish female piercing client in 1992.

Dakota’s client reportedly referred to the piercing as “da’at” (the Hebrew word for “knowledge”) with reason being that the piercer must be very smart and skilled to perform this particular piercing technique.  The Daith piercing became popularized and caught mainstream attention after it was featured in an early edition of “Body Play Magazine.”

In recent years the Daith piercing has been touted by some as a potential cure for migraine headaches.  Although it remains unclear as to whether Daith piercings are useful for the prevention and/or treatment of migraines, many former migraine patients have reported significant migraine reduction and/or relief after getting the piercing.

How Daith Piercings might treat migraine headaches (Mechanisms of Action)

Included below is a summary of the potential mechanisms by which Daith piercings might reduce the frequency and/or severity of migraines.  Thus far, there are only two proposed mechanisms by which Daith piercings might treat migraines: (1) an acupuncture-like effect and (2) a placebo effect.

It’s possible that: (1) one of these mechanisms is responsible for the antimigraine effect of Daith piercings; (2) none of these mechanisms explains the antimigraine effect of Daith piercings; (3) each of these mechanisms contribute (in varying degrees) to the antimigraine effect of Daith piercings – among the subset of recipients who derive therapeutic benefit from this intervention.

  1. Auricular acupuncture-like effect

Researchers hypothesize that Daith piercings may provide migraine relief through an acupuncture-like effect.  Because Daith piercings target similar areas of the ear as auricular (i.e. ear-based) acupuncture, it’s possible that the piercings might prevent migraine through similar mechanisms of action as auricular acupuncture.

Evidence to support the idea that auricular acupuncture reduces pain can be derived from a systematic review and meta-analysis by Yeh et al. (2014).  Findings of this review suggested that auricular acupuncture provides substantial pain relief compared to a sham or control intervention – and that auricular acupuncture appears more effective than other types of acupuncture for general pain reduction.

Many trials have also reported the effectiveness of auricular acupuncture as a treatment for migraine pain.  For example, a study by Romoli et al. (2005) noted that semi-permanent needle insertion (1-15 days) at various auricular acupuncture “points” may significantly reduce the occurrence and/or severity of migraine attacks.

A study by Allais et al. (2010) involving 15 women experiencing unilateral migraine (without aura) reported significant migraine pain reduction following semi-permanent needle insertion into various auricular zones (antero-internal part of the antitragus; the anterior part of the lobe; and the upper auricular concha ipsilateral).

In a randomized controlled trial by Allais et al. (2011) involving 94 female migraine sufferers, ear acupuncture was therapeutically beneficial.  Ceccherelli et al. (2012) also discovered significant and lasting reductions in migraine pain as a result of ear acupuncture in a sample of 35 migraine patients.

A randomized controlled trial by Zhao et al. (2017) involving 249 adults with migraine (2 to 8 attacks per month) discovered significant reductions in migraine frequency following acupuncture treatment – compared to a sham acupuncture treatment.

How the Auricular Acupuncture-Like Effect of Daith Piercings Might Treat Migraine

Understand that it remains slightly controversial as to whether auricular acupuncture provides significant pain relief via mechanisms other than the placebo effect.  Nevertheless, below is a summary of all potential mechanisms by which the auricular acupuncture-like effect of Daith piercings might reduce the frequency and/or severity of migraine headaches.  It’s possible that certain mechanisms are more relevant for the treatment of migraine than others.

Sensory nerve stimulation

The auricular acupuncture-like effect of Daith piercings might provide migraine by stimulating sensory nerves and tiny muscles within the ear.  Stimulation of sensory nerves and tiny ear muscles may lead to the release of beta-endorphin, an endogenous neuropeptide hormone produced by the pituitary gland for the suppression of pain.  As a result of beta-endorphin release, nociceptive pathways could be inhibited such that migraine pain is attenuated (or significantly reduced).

Trigeminovascular system modulation

Another means by which the auricular acupuncture-like effect of Daith piercings might provide migraine relief is through modulation of the trigeminovascular system.  Because abnormal activity within the trigeminovascular system is understood to cause migraines, modulating activity in this system should be hypothesized as a potential means by which Daith piercings treat migraines.

There are three primary mechanisms by which Daith piercings might modulate the trigeminovascular system, including: vagus nerve stimulation; trigeminal nerve stimulation; and neuroplasticity induction.  Though one of these mechanisms may be more important than the others in terms of facilitating migraine relief after Daith piercings – it’s also possible that all three contribute (in varying degrees) to the generation of a therapeutic effect.

Vagus nerve stimulation: The auricular branch of the vagus nerve responds to somatic innervation of the ear surface.  Researchers have determined that the vagus nerve is responsible for 20% of sensory innervation of the anterior part of the helix.

When a person with migraine undergoes Daith piercings, the piercings likely stimulate the vagus nerve, which in turn, modulates trigeminovascular pathways to provide migraine relief.  Of relevance is the fact that transcutaneous stimulation of the auricular vagal nerve has been shown to provide relief from chronic migraine.

Trigeminal nerve stimulation: The auriculotemporal branch of the trigeminal nerve is understood to respond to somatic innervation of the ear surface.  Researchers have determined that the trigeminal nerve is responsible for 80% of sensory innervation of the anterior part of the helix.

When a Daith piercing is performed, the piercings likely stimulate the trigeminal nerve, which in turn, interacts with trigeminovascular pathways to provide migraine relief.  Interestingly, direct stimulation of the supraorbital trigeminal nerve has been shown to prevent migraines.

Neuroplasticity: Studies that have examined the effect of acupuncture on brain activity (with fMRI neuroimaging) indicate that acupuncture can modulate activity in structures that interact with trigeminal nociceptive input.  Examples of such structures include: rostral ventromedial medulla; ventrolateral periaqueductal gray; locus coeruleus; and the nucleus raphe magnus.

Acupuncture has also been shown to alter activity in regions associated with: pain (e.g. anterior cingulate cortex, periaqueductal gray area); emotion (e.g. amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex); and memory (hippocampus, middle temporal gyrus).  Researchers believe that modulation of activity within the aforementioned brain regions via Daith piercings might alter pain perception such that migraines are perceived as less painful (following acupuncture).

Autonomic nervous system (ANS) modulation

Another potential means by which Daith piercings might treat migraine symptoms is through modulation of autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity.  Researchers suspect that Daith piercings activate vagus nerve afferents through the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS), which in turn, decrease sympathetic tone (via interaction with the medulla) and increase parasympathetic tone (via interaction with the dorsal motor nucleus and nucleus ambiguous).

It has been suggested that simultaneous modulation of sympathetic and parasympathetic activity might alter the production of neurotransmitters and/or inflammatory mediators (e.g. Substance P, Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide (CGRP), neurokinin A (NKA), and endothelin-3 (ET-3)).  Altered production of neurotransmitters and inflammatory mediators might decrease likelihood of neurogenic inflammation and/or alter cortical excitability such that migraines are less likely to occur.

Recap: How the auricular acupuncture-like effect of Daith Piercings might treat migraines

In summary, the sensory stimulation derived from Daith piercings at the crus of the helix (the specific ear site of the piercing) might:

  1. Upregulate beta-endorphin (which might reduce or block pain perception)
  2. Modulate the trigeminovascular system (which might directly prevent migraine attacks and/or might reduce migraine-related pain via the vagus nerve, trigeminal nerve, and neuroplasticity)
  3. Modulate the autonomic nervous system (which might alter cortical excitability and/or prevent neurogenic inflammation).

According to Cascio Rizzo et al. (2017), the mechanism is probably “multifactorial” such that multiple mechanisms contribute to migraine relief.  Additionally, it’s possible that certain mechanisms might account for greater migraine relief in certain persons – and different mechanisms might account for greater migraine relief in others – in accordance with one’s unique neurophysiologic migraine presentation.

Perhaps individuals who derive substantial benefit from Daith piercings exhibit neurophysiologic commonalities – making them more likely to respond to beta-endorphin upregulation; trigeminovascular modulation; and/or autonomic modulation.  Conversely, perhaps persons who derive zero benefit from Daith piercings exhibit neurophysiologic differences (from responders) – making them less likely to respond to beta-endorphin upregulation; trigeminovascular modulation; and/or autonomic modulation.

  1. Placebo-Like Effect (?)

It is possible that Daith piercings might prevent migraines via generation of a placebo effect.  Research suggests that placebo effects appear to: (1) decrease activity in pain processing areas of the brain and (2) activate cortico-brainstem pain inhibition pathways.

In fact, Seymour Solomon (MD) has suggested that Botox (an evidence-based migraine therapy) may be effective solely from its ability to generate a placebo effect.  According to Solomon, two critical elements needed for induction of a placebo effect include: (1) expectation (someone expecting the intervention to treat their condition) and (2) conditioning (environmental components associated with the intervention).

Perhaps the reason Daith piercings effectively prevent migraines (among those who respond to this intervention) is because they generate a strong placebo effect, which in turn, alters cortical activity (e.g. increasing activation within inhibitory pathways of the prefrontal cortex and periaqueductal grey area) in ways that are consistent with migraine prevention or pain reduction.

Though the placebo effect resulting from Daith piercings for migraines might not be as powerful as the placebo effect resulting from Botox, it might still be substantial enough to induce therapeutic benefits like reductions in migraine frequency and severity.  Listed below are reasons as to why Daith piercings might generate a strong placebo effect.

  1. Daith piercings involve needles: Needle-based interventions are understood to induce a stronger placebo effect than pills.
  2. Daith piercings are novel and invasive: Both novelty and invasiveness of therapies are understood to induce a more substantial placebo effect than conventional and non-invasive interventions.
  3. Multiple Daith piercings: Most individuals who seek out Daith piercings for the treatment of migraines receive one piercing per ear. Multiple administrations (i.e. injections) are known to yield a stronger placebo effect than a standalone administration.
  4. Daith piercing observation: Patients are able to observe Daith piercings as they are performed – as well as the aftermath of the piercings. When patients observe placebo administration (e.g. a procedure), this typically induces a more substantial placebo effect than hidden or unobservable administration.
  5. Instant physical change: After Daith piercings are performed, patients can instantly observe inserted ear jewelry and/or injection site reactions. Because the appearance of the innermost ear cartilage changes immediately after the procedure – patients might expect that it’ll instantly begin preventing migraine attacks.
  6. Daith piercing cost: Daith piercings are estimated to cost between $50 and $100 per ear. Add in specialized “ear jewelry” – and the procedure becomes costlier.  Although not extremely expensive, the cost of Daith piercings might increase a patient’s expectation that it’ll cure migraines.

Considering the reasoning above in support of a Daith piercing-induced placebo effect, it’s fair to speculate that the efficacy of Daith piercings in migraine prophylaxis – could be partially or fully attributable to a potent placebo effect.  However, even if Daith piercings treat migraines via a placebo effect – this placebo effect could be of substantial therapeutic value (particularly in patients with chronic refractory migraines).

How do Daith piercings provide ongoing migraine relief? (Hypotheses)

It is unclear as to how Daith piercings provide sustained migraine relief such that they continue to prevent and/or reduce the severity of migraine attacks for days, weeks, months, years, or indefinitely after piercings have healed and/or jewelry has been inserted.  Researchers Cascio Rizzo et al. (2017) have no clear explanation as to how Daith piercings could continue to stimulate vagal and trigeminal pathways to yield a long-term antimigraine effect.

Included below are some hypotheses as to why some individuals derive long-term (or permanent) benefit from Daith piercings for migraines – and why other individuals derive short-term (or transient) benefit from Daith piercings without long-term relief.

1. Long-term or permanent migraine relief

It’s possible that the combination of an initial piercing (at the crus of the helix) and the insertion of jewelry continuously modulates and/or permanently alters the vagus nerve and trigeminal nerve (and trigeminovascular system activity) and/or induces neuroplasticity to permanently alter migraine-related neural activity – such that migraines are either cured OR occur with less frequency and/or severity – than before the piercing.

It’s also possible that for some individuals, getting Daith piercings (one in each ear) temporarily disrupts neural sensitization or the “vicious circle” of neural activity associated with migraines.  A temporary disruption of regular brain patterns associated with migraines, especially if coupled with behavioral change, might yield sustained neural changes whereby migraine attacks are less likely to occur.

Furthermore, the placebo effect could account for sustained migraine reduction following Daith piercings.  If someone believes that the Daith piercings are preventing migraine attacks, this belief might alter neurophysiology in ways that are consistent with migraine prevention or attenuation.

Among individuals who derive long-term antimigraine effects from Daith piercings followed by symptomatic relapse (migraine frequency and/or severity reverts back to pre-Daith piercing status) – it’s possible that neurophysiology gradually (in some cases) or abruptly (in other cases) shifts from a state in which migraine attacks are unlikely, to the pre-Daith piercing state in which migraine attacks are frequent and/or severe.  Things that might reverse the neurophysiologic changes associated with Daith piercings could include: sleep deprivation; stressors; alcohol and drugs; supplements; and/or nonspecific environmental changes.

2. Short-term or transient migraine relief

Short-term or transient migraine relief from Daith piercings is probably more believable than long-term or permanent relief for numerous reasons. For the subset of persons who derive transient or short-term benefit from Daith piercings for migraine, it’s possible that initial acupuncture-like effects and/or placebo effects (involved in facilitating therapeutic migraine reduction) eventually fade such that migraine relief only occurs for days or weeks after Daith piercings – followed by an inevitable symptomatic relapse.

Daith piercings do not appear to provide constant stimulation to the site of the ear.  Once the crus of the helix (the site for Daith piercings) has been pierced, jewelry is usually inserted and the area heals.  Although the initial piercing might: stimulate beta-endorphin release; modulate the trigeminovascular system (via vagal and trigeminal nerve afferents); and induce neuroplastic changes, because piercing (auricular stimulation) is a one-time event (not continuous) – the beneficial neurophysiologic changes resulting from the piercing likely fade whereby migraine reemerges.

Moreover, if a placebo effect accounted for some OR all of the therapeutic effect of Daith piercings, the placebo effect might fade over a short-term (e.g. after a few weeks) such that the individual no longer thinks about and/or believes that the Daith piercing is beneficial.  If the placebo effect fades, neurophysiologic activity consistent with placebo-induced migraine relief might transition back to pre-placebo neurophysiology consistent with migraine attacks.

It’s also possible that various migraine triggers such as: sleep deprivation; environmental stressors; vitamin deficiencies; poor diet; lack of sunlight; alcohol consumption; drug use; and/or weather changes – disrupt beneficial (migraine-reducing) neurophysiologic changes derived from Daith piercings and quickly reinstate neurophysiologic activity associated with migraine.

According to the research, can Daith piercings effectively treat migraines?

Unknown. At this time there’s only a single case report in which Daith piercings were documented as providing lasting therapeutic benefit in an adult male (54-year-old) with a history of childhood-onset migraine (without aura) and adult-onset tension-type headaches.  In this case, Daith piercings did not “cure” the patient’s migraine, but the piercings significantly reduced migraine frequency and intensity.

Prior to receiving Daith piercings, this patient experienced frequent migraine attacks and tension-type headaches.  His score on the Migraine Disability Assessment (MIDAS) prior to receiving Daith piercings was 70.  After receiving Daith piercings, the patient’s Migraine Disability Assessment (MIDAS) score dropped to 27; migraine disability dropped by 43 points.

  • Pre-Daith piercing (MIDAS): 70 – This score reflects Grade IV migraines. A score of 70 indicates that migraines were significantly interfering with the patient’s quality of life and general functioning.
  • Post-Daith piercing (MIDAS): 27 – This score still reflects Grade IV migraines. However, a score of 27 versus 70 (pre-Daith piercing) indicates that migraines became less problematic for the patient.

Although it’s unknown as to whether Daith piercings also treat various types of headaches (e.g. tension-type), it should be stated that the patient’s headache severity also decreased by 9 points on the Headache Impact Test (HIT-6) and by 2 points on the BS-11 test following Daith piercings.  What’s impressive about the result with this patient is that his migraine frequency and intensity were reduced over a long-term.

At a check-up approximately ~1.5 years post-Daith piercing, the patient reported experiencing sustained migraine relief such that migraine attacks were uncommon (episodic or infrequent).  In addition to the standalone case report (as of 2018) – there are low-quality data from internet surveys suggesting that Daith piercings may provide relief for a subset of migraine sufferers.

For example, survey data (based on 1,107 migraine sufferers) from the site MigrainePal.com reported the following statistics post-Daith piercing:

  • Reduced migraine frequency (64%)
    • 15% reduced attacks by 10% to 50%
    • 7% reduced attacks by 50%
    • 24% reduced attacks by over 50%
    • 18% experienced complete remission
  • No change in migraine frequency (31%)
  • Worsening of migraine frequency (5%)

Among persons from the survey who had Daith piercings in place for over 1 year, the following statistics are worth highlighting:

  • Complete migraine remission (18-20%)
  • Maintained initial improvements in migraine frequency and/or severity (over 50%)
  • Worsening of migraine (7-9%)

These survey data suggest that a significant percentage of migraine sufferers respond favorably to Daith piercings such that migraine attacks become less frequent and/or severe post-piercing.  Additionally, it seems as though Daith piercings provide long-term (or permanent) benefit in many recipients as evidenced by the fact that up to 20% of survey responders (who’ve had Daith piercings in place for over 1-year) exhibited sustained migraine remission – and over 50% of survey responders (who’ve had Daith piercings in place for over 1-year) exhibited sustained reductions in migraine frequency and/or severity.

Another survey published by Blatchley and Wilkins (2017) with responses from 1,262 migraine sufferers who received Daith piercings suggests therapeutic benefit from the piercing procedure.  A majority of survey respondents reported deriving therapeutic benefit from Daith piercings such that migraine frequency and/or severity were substantially and rapidly reduced – along with the need for prophylactic and triptan medications.

Moreover, Blatchley and Wilkins noted that the antimigraine effect derived from Daith piercings was sustained for up to 3 months in a subset of responders – and for over 3 months in another subset of responders.  Results of the survey by Blatchley and Wilkins led the researchers to conclude that Daith piercings seem to be a low-risk and low-cost intervention for migraine with high rates of patient satisfaction.

Despite encouraging preliminary data to support Daith piercings for migraine, randomized controlled trials are warranted to meticulously evaluate the therapeutic potential of this intervention.  Until randomized controlled trials are carried out, it’s difficult to know whether Daith piercings are a legitimately efficacious migraine prophylactic or treatment.

Unless higher quality data are attained, Daith piercings should (temporarily) be classified as an intervention of “unknown efficacy” for the management of migraine headaches.  Daith piercings should not be [prematurely] classified as “effective” or “ineffective” based on speculation.

At this time the mechanism(s) by which Daith piercings might treat migraines remains unclear.  Moreover, even if effective as an antimigraine intervention, it’s unknown as to how the effectiveness of Daith piercings would compare to evidence-based, non-pharmacological antimigraine interventions (e.g. Botox) and pharmacological antimigraine medications (e.g. topiramate).

Benefits of Daith Piercings for Migraines (Possibilities)

Included below is a list of potential benefits associated with pursuing Daith piercings as a migraine prophylactic.  Some of the most obvious benefits associated with pursuing Daith piercings to prevent migraines include: its low risk; its low cost; and the fact that it may “cure” migraine for some individuals.  Moreover, many people like the fact that Daith piercings are an alternative to antimigraine medications (which sometimes cause debilitating side effects).

Adjunct intervention: A noteworthy benefit associated with pursuing Daith piercings for migraines is that the piercings can be administered as an adjunct to preexisting antimigraine therapies.  Because Daith piercings are non-pharmacological, migraine sufferers won’t need to discontinue preexisting antimigraine prophylactics and/or abortive therapies (e.g. triptans) after receiving Daith piercings.

It’s possible that the combination of Daith piercings plus medication and/or Botox might yield synergistic antimigraine action such that migraines decrease more significantly after the combination (Daith piercing plus medication and/or Botox) – relative to standalone therapies.  Knowing that Daith piercings can be pursued without discontinuing preexisting antimigraine therapies may be comforting to patients.

Alternative to medications: It is understood that migraine prophylactic medications and abortive therapies (e.g. triptans) can cause unwanted side effects and/or lead to overuse in many users – both of which can have negative health consequences.  Additionally, some patients with chronic migraine derive zero or insufficient benefit from the use of antimigraine medications – leaving them with few alternative interventions.

Comparative studies (Botox versus an antimigraine medication) suggest that Botox is equally as effective as migraine prophylactic medications (e.g. Depakote, Topamax, etc.) and causes significantly fewer side effects – making it a favorable (perhaps superior) alterative to medication.  Because Daith piercings are non-pharmacological, they’re unlikely to cause ongoing side effects and won’t trigger “overuse” like medications.

Moreover, individuals who don’t respond to medications (or derive insufficient benefit from them) may want to explore all experimental migraine therapies – in hopes that one (e.g. Daith piercings) might provide relief.  As a potential alternative to medications, Daith piercings might save patients money and time that would’ve otherwise been put towards regular doctor visits and antimigraine medications.

Body art: Some people may perceive the Daith piercing as aesthetic, visually appealing, or creative “body art” such that they might’ve pursued the piercing regardless of whether it had potential to alleviate migraines.  Assuming the Daith piercing reduces the frequency and/or severity of migraine attacks and looks appealing – the recipient might end up deriving therapeutic antimigraine benefit plus aesthetic satisfaction from the procedure.

Break the cycle of attacks: A reason that Daith piercings might be a useful antimigraine procedure is that they could break the cycle of migraine attacks by altering neurophysiology of migraine sufferers.  Someone with chronic, frequent/severe migraine likely will exhibit a unique neurophysiologic signature consistent with chronic, frequent/severe migraine.

In other words, because the neurophysiology of migraine sufferers has become entrained or adapted to a migraine-inducing state, severe migraine attacks frequently occur.  Daith piercings may (at least temporarily) disrupt or break the cycle of migraine attacks by altering neurophysiology consistent with migraine induction.

Specifically, the combination of an auricular acupuncture-like effect (that might promote beta-endorphin release; vagal modulation; trigeminal nerve modulation; autonomic modulation; neuroplasticity; etc.) and a placebo-like effect – could alter neurophysiology in a way that makes migraines less likely to occur.  If the Daith piercing recipient can maintain this new neurophysiologic signature, he/she may derive sustained or long-term migraine relief.

Long-term effect:  A case report in medical literature provided by Cascio Rizzo et al. (2017) documented significant reductions in migraine frequency and severity for ~1.5 years in a chronic migraine sufferer after the Daith piercing procedure.  Additionally, there are many anecdotal accounts on the internet from chronic migraine sufferers who report long-lasting antimigraine effects from Daith piercings.

Survey data from the website MigrainePal.com (based on 1,107 respondents) indicates that: 21% (of 141 individuals) had no migraine attacks within 1-2 months of the piercing; 17% (of 105 individuals) had no migraine attacks within 2-3 months of the piercing; 13% (of 182 individuals) had no migraine attacks within 3-6 months of the piercing; 9% (of 233 individuals) had no further migraine attacks within 6-12 months of the piercing; 16% (of 98 individuals) had no migraine attacks within 1-2 years of the piercing; and 31% (of 39 individuals) had no migraine attacks 2+ years after the piercing.

If survey data are accurate, it would suggest that Daith piercings can provide a moderate-term or long-term antimigraine effect for a subset of recipients – such that migraine attacks: (1) no longer occur OR (2) decrease in frequency and/or severity.  The fact that a single set of ear piercings might provide long-lasting (or permanent) migraine relief is another potential benefit of this intervention – especially when considering that antimigraine medications generally only provide short-term relief.

Low cost: Most people consider Daith piercings to be low cost, especially when compared with frequent visits to medical doctors (or specialists e.g. neurologists) for migraine management.  The average neurologist appointment likely costs at least a couple hundred dollars ($200+) – and if neuroimaging tests such as fMRI are required, the appointment may cost thousands of dollars.

Furthermore, in most cases, follow-up appointments (and possibly tests) will be necessary – and possibly medication.  For some individuals, the annual cost of neurologist visits and medication in attempt to control migraine attacks may be in the thousands.  Daith piercings generally cost between $50 and $100.

Assuming you spend $200 on Daith piercings (and jewelry) and the piercings end up controlling your migraines, this intervention might have saved you thousands of dollars in medical bills over the span of 1-year.  If you’re lucky and manage to find Daith piercings curative (some have reported this effect) – you may never need the doctor again (saving you even more money).

When compared to other proven non-pharmacological interventions (e.g. Botox) and unproven non-pharmacological interventions (e.g. auricular acupuncture) – a single set of Daith piercings is probably cheaper.  Because both Botox and acupuncture require recurring treatment – the costs will substantially exceed that of Daith piercings over a 1-year period.

Not age-restricted: United States law indicates that persons above the age of 16 can receive ear piercings without parental consent, and that persons under the age of 16 can receive ear piercings with the consent of a parent or guardian – migraine sufferers of any age could pursue Daith piercings for migraine.  Unlike various antimigraine medications which might be a poor choice for pediatrics (due to side effects and/or interference with brain development), Daith piercings could be considered more tolerable and less risky (especially over the long-term).

Rapid onset of action: Most research supports the idea that, if Daith piercings are effective for the treatment of migraine, the therapeutic antimigraine effect is attained immediately after the procedure for a substantial percentage of recipients.  The instantaneous therapeutic antimigraine effect, regardless of how it occurs (e.g. auricular acupuncture-like effect, placebo effect, etc.), should be considered beneficial in that most recipients will not need to wait “days” or “weeks” for the beneficial effect of the procedure to “kick in.”

According to the MigrainePal.com survey data based on 1,107 respondents – 25% of Daith piercing recipients had zero migraine attacks in the first month following the procedure.  Assuming Daith piercings facilitate a rapid onset of antimigraine action, this may be favorable over prophylactic medications (that sometimes take days or weeks to reach maximal efficacy) and abortive medications (that sometimes take longer than expected to exert an effect).

Single treatment: Unlike Botox, acupuncture, and antimigraine medication – Daith piercings are considered a “one-time” treatment such that most people won’t need to continue getting their ears re-pierced for migraine relief.  The fact that Daith piercings are a one-time treatment might save recipients a substantial amount of time (that would’ve been allocated towards other procedures) and/or money (that would’ve been spent on doctor visits and/or other procedures).

In the MigrainePal.com survey, 137 respondents had Daith piercings in place for over 1 year.  Of these respondents, it is estimated that 18-20% had zero migraines since the piercings, indicative of complete remission from migraine attacks.  This suggests that a single set of Daith piercings (one per ear) may provide lasting or permanent migraine relief (for certain recipients) with just one treatment.

Temporary migraine relief: Even if Daith piercings are not curative or effective for a long-term, many individuals with severe migraines might be willing to get the piercings if the piercings are capable of providing temporary migraine relief.  Evidence from the MigrainePal.com survey with 1,107 respondents reported that 64% and 66% of respondents experienced a reduction in migraine frequency and severity, respectively, following Daith piercings.

Although some Daith piercing recipients experienced a relapse in migraine symptoms after deriving initial therapeutic benefit, the migraine symptom relapse usually didn’t occur for at least 1+ month following the piercing.  This suggests that Daith piercings are able to provide at least temporary migraine relief among persons who don’t derive a curative effect.

Well-tolerated: When compared to most antimigraine medications and even Botox, there are probably fewer side effects and/or tolerability issues with Daith piercings.  Although Daith piercings are not performed under medical supervision and can be a complex procedure, if they are performed by an experienced piercer with mastery of the technique, the procedure should be relatively low-risk.

Most people do not consider Daith piercings to be risky if proper commonsense precautions are taken to prevent infection and bleeding.  Though there might be some minor piercing-site reactions following the procedure such as: inflammation, bleeding, etc. – these should be transient and subside quickly.

Once the Daith piercings heal, recipients probably won’t need to worry about additional side effects.  Comparatively, antimigraine medications can cause ongoing side effects such as: cognitive dysfunction; weight change; mood changes; and/or fatigue.

Drawbacks of Daith Piercings for Migraines (Possibilities)

Although there are some potentially-substantial benefits associated with using Daith piercings to treat migraines, there are also some potential drawbacks that are worth mentioning.  Drawbacks associated with using Daith piercings to treat migraines include: ineffectiveness; adverse reactions (to the piercing); lack of evidence to substantiate the intervention; and the cost.

Adverse reactions: Anyone who receives a Daith piercing is at risk of experiencing adverse reactions.  The most likely adverse reactions associated with this type of piercing probably include: injection site reactions (e.g. swelling, redness, discoloration, irritation); pain (from the needle piercing the skin); and/or worsening of migraine symptoms.

Because Daith piercings haven’t been studied as an intervention for the treatment of migraine (or any other medical condition), it remains unclear as to how frequently adverse reactions occur following this piercing procedure.  Considering the fact that Daith piercings require a skilled piercer and are generally conducted in settings devoid of medical oversight – the chance of an adverse reaction following a Daith piercing may be greater than suspected.

Cost: The cost of Daith piercings will vary depending on the specific piercer and location.  Sources online estimate that the cost for a single Daith piercing (one ear) is between $50 and $100.  Assuming you get a Daith piercing in each ear, this could cost around $200 – with additional expenses (e.g. $25 to $50) going towards jewelry to fill the piercing.

Because Daith piercings haven’t been studied and aren’t considered a medical procedure, they won’t be covered by insurance and you’ll end up paying the full amount “out of pocket” to the piercer.  Comparatively, doctor visits, antimigraine medication, and/or other evidence-based medical procedures for the treatment of migraine may be fully covered by a good insurance plan – possibly making Daith piercings a more expensive intervention (for some individuals).

Delayed onset of action: While most individuals who derive migraine relief from Daith piercings will report benefit nearly instantly after the procedure, others might experience a delay in the onset of an antimigraine effect following Daith piercings.  It is hypothesized that a small percentage of Daith piercing recipients may need to wait days, weeks, or over a month for the piercings to provide migraine relief.

Individuals in need instant relief from migraine attacks may be disappointed if their migraines aren’t reduced (in frequency or severity) on the day of the procedure.  Additionally, delays in the attainment of migraine improvement (post-Daith piercings) make it difficult to know whether the migraine improvement was legitimately attributable to the piercings versus other factors (e.g. lifestyle changes, medication use, etc.).

Ineffective for many:  Though the efficacy of Daith piercings for migraine remains unclear, preliminary evidence suggests that some migraine sufferers who pursue Daith piercings will experience zero migraine improvement.  Data from a survey on the website MigrainePal.com encompassing 1,107 respondents indicate that ~30% of respondents experienced zero change in the frequency and/or severity of migraine attacks following a Daith piercing.

Like most interventions for migraine, Daith piercings are an ineffective option for many migraine sufferers; many experience no change in symptoms after the piercings.  If you spend a couple hundred dollars on the piercing and put up with some unwanted side effects (e.g. injection site pain, swelling, etc.) – you may be disappointed if your migraine attacks don’t improve.

Lack of medical supervision: Like other types of body and ear piercings, Daith piercings are performed with zero medical oversight.  If you pursue Daith piercings and experience an adverse injection site reaction, you won’t have a doctor around to recognize and treat it.

This means that adverse reactions might go unrecognized and untreated – which could cause another medical problem (in addition to migraine).  Moreover, lack of medical oversight with a relatively complex piercing technique purported to treat migraine headaches might result in piercing errors (especially by an inexperienced or poorly trained piercer) such as piercing the wrong area.

Piercing errors: Daith piercings are not usually performed by amateur piercers.  Most familiar with Daith piercings acknowledge that these piercings are an intricate or complex procedure requiring an experienced, well-trained piercing professional.

In the event that a Daith piercing is performed by an amateur piercer, the amateur piercer might commit errors such as: piercing the wrong location, using improper piercing technique, etc.  Any piercing errors might mean that the piercings attained were not “true” Daith piercings.

If “true” Daith piercings are not attained by a migraine sufferer, there may be zero or suboptimal vagal nerve and/or trigeminal nerve stimulation for migraine relief.  Due to these piercing errors, the effectiveness of Daith piercings for the treatment of migraine might be substantially reduced or nonexistent.

Transient migraine relief: Though some migraine sufferers may be satisfied with even transient migraine relief (e.g. 1-2 months) following Daith piercings, others might be dissatisfied with pursuing Daith piercings if the therapeutic benefit is short-lived.  The combination of an acupuncture-like effect and a placebo-like effect derived from Daith piercings may provide migraine relief for days, weeks, or months.

However, some individuals may not like the idea of getting their ears pierced (at the crus of the helix) just for transient or short-term migraine relief.  Many individuals who choose to pursue Daith piercings might’ve instead opted to stick with conventional medications and/or proven therapies – rather than invest time and/or money (e.g. $200) in Daith piercings – if they knew that the migraine relief would eventually diminish post-piercing.

Worsening of symptoms: It is understood that not everyone who receives Daith piercings for migraines experiences migraine relief.  In fact, a small percentage of users end up with a worsening of migraine symptoms after receiving Daith piercings – such that migraines become more severe and/or frequent than before.

Survey data from 1,107 respondents on the site MigrainePal.com indicate that 5% and 7% of respondents experienced more frequent and/or severe migraine attacks, respectively, after receiving the Daith piercings.  Although it’s unclear as to why migraines might’ve worsened after the piercings, it’s possible that the same mechanism(s) by which Daith piercings may improve migraine could worsen symptoms.

For example, the combination of trigeminovascular modulation, neuroplasticity, ANS modulation from Daith piercings might make migraines worse for select individuals.  Additionally, perhaps some individuals experience a nocebo-like response whereby their beliefs and/or thought patterns negatively influence outcomes.

Daith Piercing for Migraines (The Research)

Understand that until more research is conducted, it remains difficult to determine whether Daith piercings are legitimately efficacious as a migraine prophylactic (preventative).  Moreover, just because Daith piercings were deemed useful in the treatment of migraine for one individual (in the case report below) – does not mean that they should be considered an effective treatment.  More research in the form of large-scale randomized controlled trials is needed to know whether Daith piercings effectively treat migraines.

2017: Daith Piercing in a Case of Chronic Migraine: A Possible Vagal Modulation.

Cascio Rizzo et al. published a case report in which Daith piercings were effective for the treatment of chronic headache in a 54-year-old male patient.  The patient had been suffering from headache since childhood, had a positive family history for migraine, and had experienced head trauma at 3 years of age.

According to Cascio Rizzo et al., the patient had experienced 2 types of headache with changing frequency: migraine without aura (childhood onset) and severe tension-type headache (adult onset).  Triggers for the patient’s headaches were reported as: alcohol, sleep deprivation, and traveling.

As of 2008, the patient exhibited chronic migraine in accordance with ICHD-3 (International Classification for Headache Disorders 3rd Edition) criteria.  Though the patient’s neurological examination was normal, a neuroimaging scan (fMRI) discovered multiple subcortical lesions (non-specific gliosis) in the patient’s brain.

In effort to prevent headaches, the patient administered medications such as: topiramate, sodium valproate, propranolol, flunarizine, and amitriptyline – at therapeutically-relevant dosages.  Additionally, the patient administered triptans and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) in attempt to manage acute headache episodes.

Despite treatment with numerous clinically effective headache medications, the patient was unable to attain lasting symptomatic relief – and developed a medication overuse disorder.  In 2009 the patient underwent detoxification from his headache medications – and as of 2010 he received support from medical professionals at a headache center.

The patient would use and abuse various medications (e.g. indomethacin 50 mg) in effort to prevent and manage his headaches, inevitably leading him to require ~2 detoxification treatments per year from 2010 through 2015.  As of 2013 the patient presented to medical professionals with amnesia due to an acute hippocampal lesion – and in 2014, the patient was diagnosed with arterial hypertension.

Later in 2014, the patient received Botox for migraines over a 1-year period and experienced a significant reduction in headache frequency – but still experienced ~12 to 13 attacks per month.  Thereafter, Cascio Rizzo et al. measured headache-related disability in the patient, below are the test scores.

Headache-related disability assessments (pre-Daith piercing)

  • HIT-6 (Headache Impact Test-6) score: 64
  • MIDAS (Migraine Disability Assessment) score: 70
  • BS-11 score (Headache severity): 5 out of 10

Because medications failed to effectively manage the patient’s headaches, the patient pursued “Daith piercings” in 2016 as an experimental headache treatment.  Before receiving Daith piercings, the patient was using various medications including: amitriptyline (25 mg, b.i.d.); aspirin (100 mg per day); and up to painkillers (~15 per month).

After receiving the Daith piercings, the patient experienced a substantial reduction in the frequency and severity of migraine and tension-type headache attacks.  What’s more, significant reductions were documented in assessments of headache-related disability.  Below are the test scores after the Daith piercing.

Headache-related disability assessments (post-Daith piercing)

  • HIT-6 (Headache Impact Test-6) score: 56
  • MIDAS (Migraine Disability Assessment) score: 27
  • BS-11 (Headache severity): 3 out of 10

The patient’s headache severity decreased after the Daith piercing as evidenced by a drop in BS-11 score from “5” (pre-Daith piercing) to a “3” (post-Daith piercing).  Although the patient still considered his headache pain to be “oppressive” and “annoying” – it was no longer substantially interfering with his occupational performance.

Cascio Rizzo et al. stated that the patient only experienced 13 headaches in 3 months since receiving his Daith piercing – and was able to treat each with a standalone painkiller; this was as significant improvement.  At a ~1.5-year follow-up, it was reported that alcohol and traveling no longer trigger the patient’s headaches – and that the patient’s occupational attendance has improved.

Moreover, the ~1.5-year follow-up revealed that the patient experienced zero migraines in ~2 months prior to the follow-up, and that migraine attacks have become “very rare” since getting the Daith piercings.  It was noted by Cascio Rizzo et al. that the patient continues to use amitriptyline (25 mg per day) as a prophylactic and indomethacin (50 mg) “as needed” to treat tension-type headache attacks.

Daith Piercing for Migraine Survey (Results)

Authors of this case report stated that there are no prior data regarding “Daith piercing” in the scientific or medical literature.  However, authors highlighted results from an anonymous survey (posted at the site MigrainePal.com) which sought to determine whether Daith piercings might prove therapeutically useful for the prophylaxis and/or treatment of migraine.

  • Participants: 380 individuals (who received Daith piercings)
  • Migraine frequency reduction: 2% (~180 individuals) reported experiencing a noticeable reduction in migraine frequency after receiving a Daith piercing.
  • Migraine severity reduction: 9% (~190 individuals) reported experiencing a noticeable reduction in migraine attack severity after receiving a Daith piercing.
  • Non-responders: Over 50% reported zero noticeable reduction in migraine frequency or severity after receiving a Daith piercing.
  • Worsening of migraine: 7% reported worsening of migraine symptoms after receiving a Daith piercing.

It was further noted that the number of responders (persons who benefitted from Daith piercings for migraines) decreased over a period of months following the survey – suggesting that, if there is a therapeutic effect from Daith piercings, it may be short-term or transient.

Although the popularity of Daith piercings as an experimental migraine intervention appears to be increasing – as evidenced by anecdotal reports from migraine sufferers on the internet, authors state that Daith piercings cannot be recommended for migraine treatment due to: (1) lack of scientific evidence; (2) unquantified rate of failure; and (3) associated risks.

Daith Piercing results for migraine from 1,107 respondents

An anonymous internet survey conducted by MigrainePal.com, authored by Carl, sought to provide preliminary data regarding the efficacy of Daith piercings for the treatment of migraine.  The survey asked 3 questions to migraine sufferers who received Daith piercings.  The questions were as follows:

  1. How long have you had a Daith ear piercing for?
  2. How has your Daith piercing affected your migraine frequency?
  3. How has your Daith piercing affected your migraine severity?

Limitations associated with this survey included: anyone could answer (e.g. persons who weren’t diagnosed with migraine); someone could’ve answered multiple times (as an attempt to skew the data); piercings were not checked for accuracy (to ensure that they were legitimate Daith piercings) among those who received them; it was unclear as to whether respondents received Daith piercings in one or both ears; the specific magnitude of change in migraine symptoms (from pre- to post-Daith piercing) were not documented; and concurrent antimigraine interventions (e.g. medication use, Botox, etc.) were undetermined.

Amount of time Daith piercings had been in place among respondents

Below is a breakdown of the amount of time that Daith piercings had been in place among survey respondents.

  • Less than 1 month: 311 respondents
  • 1 to 2 months: 141 respondents
  • 2 to 3 months: 105 respondents
  • 3 to 6 months: 182 respondents
  • 6 to 12 months: 233 respondents
  • 1 to 2 years: 98 respondents
  • 2+ years: 39 respondents

Effect of Daith piercings on migraine frequency

64% of survey respondents reported experiencing a reduction in migraine frequency after Daith piercings.

Of the 64% of respondents who experienced a reduction in migraine frequency:

  • 15% experienced a ~10%-50% reduction in migraine attacks
  • 7% experienced a ~50% reduction in migraine attacks
  • 24% experienced a ~24% reduction in migraine attacks
  • 18% experienced complete migraine remission (i.e. zero attacks)

It was noted that 5% of respondents reported an increase in migraine frequency following Daith piercings.

Effect of Daith piercings on migraine severity

66% of survey respondents reported experiencing a reduction in migraine severity after Daith piercings.

Of the 66% of respondents who experienced a reduction in migraine severity:

  • 21% experienced “somewhat” of a reduction in migraine severity
  • 31% experienced “great” reduction in migraine severity
  • 14% no longer experience migraine attacks

It was noted that 29% of respondents reported that migraine severity “stayed the same” (or didn’t change) after Daith piercings – and that 5% of respondents experienced a worsening of migraine pain and disability after Daith piercings.

Time since Daith piercings vs. Migraine attack frequency

Carl at MigrainePal.com reported that the time since Daith piercings were in place seemed to influence migraine attack frequency.  Collected data revealed the following statistics:

  • 25% of 311 respondents with Daith piercings in place for less than 1 month had no migraine attacks since the piercings
  • 21% of 141 respondents with Daith piercings in place for 1-2 months had no migraine attacks since the piercings
  • 17% of 105 respondents with Daith piercings in place for 2-3 months had no migraine attacks since the piercings
  • 13% of 182 respondents with Daith piercings in place for 3-6 months had no migraine attacks since the piercings
  • 9% of 233 respondents with Daith piercings in place for 6-12 months had no migraine attacks since the piercings
  • 16% of 98 respondents with Daith piercings in place for 1-2 years had no migraine attacks since the piercings
  • 31% of 39 respondents with Daith piercings in place for 2+ years had no migraine attacks since the piercings

The data generated by the MigrainePal.com survey suggest that Daith piercings provide significant migraine relief for a subset of recipients.  Specifically, Daith piercings appear to reduce migraine frequency and/or severity – for a reasonable duration post-piercing.

Moreover, it appears as though a subset of Daith piercing recipients derive a curative effect from the procedure such that they experience migraine remission (no further attacks) after the piercings.  Though there are significant limitations associated with this online survey – the findings largely support the idea that Daith piercings could be of therapeutic benefit for the treatment of migraine headaches.

2017: Ear Piercing for Migraines: Three medical surveys examining the effects of Daith piercing on migraines.

Dr. Chris Blatchley of the London Migraine Clinic and Professor Arnold Wilkins Essex University have published a preliminary report analyzing survey results from 1262 patients who’ve received Daith piercings for migraine.  The demographics of the survey population were as follows:

  • Age: Mostly 20 to 50; 11% were 50+
  • Country: 38% USA, 56% UK
  • Migraine duration: 74% had migraines 5+ years, 57% had migraines 10+ years
  • Migraine onset: 67% childhood or adolescence
  • Family history: 64% had first-degree relatives with migraines
  • Medical consults: 90% had visited a family doctor; 40% a medical specialist
  • Medications: 64% had used triptans; 56% had used prophylactics
  • Piercings: Over 50% had zero history of piercings (other than standard earring piercings)
  • Sex: 98% female

For the survey, Blatchley and Wilkins first developed a questionnaire using an online survey tool.  The survey questions with rating scales ranging from 5 to 8 to determine things like: migraine severity, migraine frequency, and medication intake.  The survey results were summarized as follows:

  • Over 75% of respondents reported migraines occurring more than once per week, with a severity that “significantly interfered” with their ability to work
  • Most respondents benefitted from Daith piercings such that migraine frequency and/or severity were substantially reduced post-piercing.
  • Immediate relief: Among those who derived migraine relief from Daith piercings, the relief was usually attained immediately post-procedure.
  • Medication reduction: 25-40% of respondents were able to completely stop using migraine prophylactics after Daith piercings, and 5-10% of respondents were able to reduce their dosages after the Daith piercings. Many respondents reported discontinuation of triptans after Daith piercings as well.
  • Problems with the piercing: 5% of Daith piercing recipients reported problems associated with the piercing including: weeping/crusting of the pierced area. 6% of Daith piercing recipients were “very unhappy” with their piercing because it didn’t provide any migraine relief, induced pain, and/or caused infection.

In a discussion, Blatchley and Wilkins stated that the antimigraine effect of Daith piercings appears to be significant and sustained – based on their survey data.  Researchers acknowledge that they haven’t accounted for a potential placebo effect, but they do not believe that the outcomes reported could be fully explained by a placebo response.

Additionally, Blatchley and Wilkins note that there is a “clear group” of persons in which Daith piercings do not facilitate an antimigraine effect – and “another group” of persons in which the antimigraine effect of Daith piercings is short-lived (such that it wears off within 3 months).  Among other responders, the effect of Daith piercings is long-lasting such that migraine reduction occurs for longer than 3 months (and the therapeutic effect “wears off” at a slower rate).

Similar to other researchers, Blatchley and Wilkins suspect that Daith piercings generate an antimigraine effect via modulation of vagus nerve stimulation.  Blatchley and Wilkins concluded that Daith piercings are a relatively low-risk, inexpensive intervention for migraine with high rates of satisfaction.

Limitations associated with the research of Daith Piercing for Migraines

Included below is a summary of limitations associated with the research of Daith piercings as a treatment for migraine headaches.  Notable limitations associated with the research of Daith piercings for migraine headaches include: just one case report suggesting potential efficacy; lack of randomized controlled trials; lack of large trials; and survey-only data.

  • One medical case report: As of current, there is just one case report in the medical literature suggesting potential benefit from Daith piercings to treat migraines. There are zero additional case reports or even open-label trials that have been conducted in effort to determine whether Daith piercings might alleviate symptoms of migraine.  A single medical case report cannot be referenced as conclusive data or high-quality evidence supporting the effectiveness of Daith piercings for migraine management.
  • Zero well-designed trials: To really know whether Daith piercings are likely effective for the treatment of migraines, it is necessary to conduct randomized controlled trials – preferably with double-blinded designs. However, similar to Botox, it’ll be relatively difficult to devise a “convincing” placebo (relative to Daith piercings) for the control group.  When a Daith piercing is performed, injection site reactions can occur and ear jewelry is generally inserted into the hole – how would a placebo be possible?  Nevertheless, larger-scale trials are warranted to determine the effect of Daith piercings on migraine frequency/severity.
  • Survey-only data: In addition to the standalone case report (suggesting that Daith piercings might help reduce migraines), there are only survey data to support the preliminary antimigraine efficacy of Daith piercings. One of the surveys (on MigrainePal.com) was conducted anonymously such that anyone could answer – and results could’ve been deliberately manipulated by Daith piercing proponents (e.g. answering multiple times via masking IP addresses, etc.) or inaccurate due to self-selection bias (people like sharing positive results more than negative results) or self-reports (self-reporting is notoriously inaccurate).  Another of the surveys was conducted by professionals who profit from the procedure (which many would consider a conflict-of-interest).
  • Unclear mechanism of action: The mechanism of action by which Daith piercings alleviate migraine (in a subset of individuals) remains unknown. The proposed mechanism of action involves a combination of trigeminovascular system modulation (via vagal and trigeminal nerve innervation); beta-endorphin release; neuroplasticity; and/or ANS modulation.  Pinpointing and replicating a clear mechanism of action would provide better support for the idea that Daith piercings can attenuate migraine symptoms.
  • Piercing specifics: The Daith piercing is performed on an area of the ear known as the crus of the helix. Nevertheless, it is known that the piercing specifics could vary among those who pursue this procedure for migraine reduction.  For example, certain individuals might only get one ear pierced with the Daith method – which might yield a less significant therapeutic effect compared to persons who get both ears pierced with the Daith method.  Moreover, the size of the needle used for the procedure and size of the jewelry inserted into the pierced area might also impact the effectiveness of Daith piercings for migraines.
  • Responders vs. Non-responders: Preliminary survey data suggest that some individuals fail to derive migraine relief from Daith piercings – and others experience a worsening of migraine symptoms. Perhaps improper Daith technique accounts for a subset of non-responders, however, individual differences in ear shape, size, and structure might also determine who responds vs. who doesn’t respond.  Moreover, there may be certain neurophysiologic signatures associated with greater likelihood of migraine reduction from Daith piercings – compared to others.  Research is needed to determine whether it’s possible to predict responders and non-responders before treatment based on specific anatomical features and/or neurophysiological markers.
  • Neuroimaging studies are needed: To determine whether Daith piercings effectively treat migraines, it may be necessary to conduct neuroimaging studies with MRI. The goal would be to compare brain activity before the procedure to brain activity after the procedure – among responders and non-responders.  Next, the activation changes could be compared to other things like: proven migraine therapies, experimental migraine therapies, and/or placebo responses – in attempt to determine how Daith piercings might alter brain activity to prevent or decrease migraine attacks.
  • Daith piercing vs. auricular acupuncture: Most experts believe that Daith piercings do not provide continuous or ongoing stimulation to the vagal nerve and/or trigeminal nerve. For this reason, some believe that the therapeutic antimigraine effect attained via Daith piercings is analogous to the therapeutic antimigraine attained from auricular acupuncture.  Perhaps auricular acupuncture might even be advantageous over Daith piercings in that: ongoing auricular acupuncture sessions might yield a stronger therapeutic response; side effects are less likely; and no ear jewelry is necessary following the procedure.
  • No long-term data: Most people want to know how long the therapeutic antimigraine effect of a Daith piercing will last. The problem is there are zero well-designed studies that have investigated the long-term effect of Daith piercings on migraine attack frequency and/or severity.  While some survey data suggest that certain migraine sufferers end up “cured” from migraines following the Daith piercing – it is unknown as to whether these data are accurate or fabricated.  Long-term data are needed to know the average duration of therapeutic antimigraine effect derived from Daith piercings.
  • Unknown safety risks: Due to the complexity of the Daith piercing technique, there may be additional safety risks associated with the procedure that are not associated with other, more conventional ear piercings (e.g. lobe piercings). These safety risks may be greater among persons who receive Daith piercings from an untrained or amateur piercer – who isn’t well-versed in this specific technique.  Research is needed to identify these risks.

Have you tried Daith piercings for migraines?

In the event that you’ve tried Daith piercings as an attempt to treat chronic migraine, be sure to report your experience in the comments section below.  Sharing your experience with Daith piercings for migraine may be helpful to someone else who’s thinking about pursuing these piercings for their migraine attacks.

To help others better understand your experience with migraine, provide details such as: the frequency of your migraine attacks, severity of your migraine attacks, and use of migraine medications (prophylactics and triptans) – before the Daith piercings vs. after the Daith piercings.  How significantly did Daith piercings change the frequency and/or severity of your migraine attacks?

If you benefitted from Daith piercings, what would you rate the magnitude of this benefit (on a scale from “1” to “10” – with “10” indicating maximal benefit)?  How long did it take for you to notice the antimigraine effect of Daith piercings following the procedure? (Was the antimigraine effect immediate, or was there a delay in the onset of migraine relief?)

Did you make any lifestyle, medication, and/or supplement changes around the same time of your Daith piercing(s) that could’ve accounted for the migraine relief you’ve attributed to the piercing(s)?  In total, how long has it been since the date on which you received your Daith piercing(s)?

Assuming you derived initial migraine relief from Daith piercings, have you noticed any change in the amount of relief that you’re getting – since the day of your piercing? (For example, some people might report migraine relapse or a diminishing therapeutic effect several months after their Daith piercing(s)).

Did you get a Daith piercing in one ear or both ears simultaneously?  Based on your experience, would you recommend Daith piercing(s) as an experimental migraine treatment to others?  (Why or why not?) How much did your Daith piercing(s) cost?

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