An increasing number of migraine sufferers are pursuing an unexpected treatment for their chronic headaches. Called a “daith piercing,” this unconventional piercing goes through the ear’s inner cartilage fold.
Those who have embraced the daith piercing as a way to cure or reduce their headaches are excited about the possibility of a permanent, drug-free answer to migraines.
The theory is that the daith piercing targets the same general area (or pressure points) that acupuncturists use to treat headaches.
So if acupuncture has helped the sufferers headaches, the daith piercing may do so as well— and on a more permanent basis.
But before looking up piercing parlors, it should be known that there are a few downsides to the procedure. As Snopes reports, it is a painful piercing, and it isn’t necessarily a “look” that everyone will like.
Moreover, there is little scientific evidence that acupuncture is an effective therapy for migraines, and even less proof that piercings can help.
While many doctors take a “can’t hurt, might help” approach to acupuncture for migraines, a piercing is a much bigger commitment to make on scant evidence.
So what should one do if they’re wondering weather a piercing could be the way to treat their migraines? According to Dr. Thomas Cohn, a pain specialist from Minnesota, there are some ways to “test drive” the piercing first.
Cohn recommends visiting an acupuncturist first and learning if needles in the ear cartilage do anything to relieve the pain. If so, a daith piercing might be worth considering. He also has another suggestion for the needle-phobic migraine sufferers.
“If you begin to have a migraine, take your thumb and middle finger and gently massage that location on your ear,” he writes. “Switch ears after a few minutes, or massage both at the same time. If you notice significant relief, and you deal with regular headaches, a daith piercing could be a worthwhile solution.”
Though there isn’t an immense amount of evidence to support the theory, Dr. Cohn believes it could be worth a shot.
“[T]here isn’t a lot of hard science behind the correlation between daith piercings and headache relief,” he says. “Some people have found relief with this method, but it certainly won’t work for everybody. But, if you suffer from regular headaches and all other solutions have failed, it may be worth investigating further.”
And as migraine sufferers know, few things can match the intense, stomach-churning pain of a migraine, so the promise of a permanent solution is exciting. Just be sure to do your homework first, says Dr. Cohn.