What does this piercing have to do with anxiety?

A daith piercing is located in the innermost fold of your ear. Some people believe that this piercing can help ease anxiety-related migraines and other symptoms.

Although the evidence is primarily anecdotal, there’s some research around the piercing’s proposed mechanism of action.

Read on to learn more about how the piercing is said to work, possible side effects, and what comes next if you’re ready to get pierced.

Your ear is home to several of the pressure points that acupuncturists and other holistic health practitioners stimulate to alleviate headaches.

These pressure points target the vagus nerve. This is the longest of the 10 nerves extending from the bottom of your brain into the rest of your body.

In theory, getting a daith piercing will place constant pressure on your vagus nerve.

Some health conditions, like depression and epilepsy, have been proven to respond to vagus nerve stimulation. Research to see if stimulating this nerve can treat other conditions is ongoing.

So far, any information we have about using a daith piercing to treat anxiety is anecdotal. There haven’t been any clinical trials or exploratory studies on this piercing and its purported effects.

But a clinical case can be made for using acupuncture to treat anxiety and migraines. Several studies have concluded that acupuncture is a “promising” treatment for panic attacks.

Although a panic attack is different from an anxiety attack, many of the symptoms are the same. This includes migraines and other headaches, chest pain, and nausea.

There’s also a tentative connection between acupuncture and piercings. Daith piercings sit at roughly the same position as a pressure point that acupuncturists target to treat migraines. This piercing theoretically provides the same benefits.

Due to growing anecdotal support, a 2017 case study called for more research into the use of daith piercings as a medical treatment.

When a treatment works simply because you believe it’s working, it’s considered a placebo effect.

At least one expert at the Cleveland Clinic weighed in to chalk up piercings that relieve migraines as having a placebo effect. If migraines are the main anxiety symptom you’re looking to address, it’s important to keep this in mind.

We don’t know enough about this treatment for anxiety to rule out the placebo effect. But we do know that getting acupuncture to treat migraines and anxiety has been shown to work better than a placebo.

If daith piercings do work to ease anxiety symptoms, it’s most likely because the piercing mechanism is similar to acupuncture.

In theory, yes — it does matter what side the piercing is on. Get the piercing on the side of your head where your anxiety-related pain tends to cluster.

If you’re not trying to treat anxiety-related migraines, it doesn’t make a difference which side of your head you get the piercing on. Assuming that the anecdotal evidence holds, the piercing may help easy other anxiety symptoms regardless of which side it’s on.

If you don’t experience migraines from anxiety, this wouldn’t really matter.

There’s a lot to consider before getting a daith piercing. The piercing can be painful for some. It takes longer to heal than other ear piercings.

If you ever decide to let the piercing close, a small (though visible) mark will be left behind.

Cartilage piercings are also more likely to get infected than lobe piercings. This may be because cartilage piercings are in closer proximity to your hair and are more likely to get tugged.

In some cases, bacterial infections from piercings can lead to sepsis or toxic shock syndrome.

There’s also the risk that your piercing won’t work for anxiety. Although anecdotal evidence suggests a daith piercing could relieve your symptoms, there’s no way to know for sure unless you try it yourself.

It can take anywhere from four months to a year for a piercing to be considered healed. You shouldn’t get this piercing if you take blood thinners or have:

Before you get a daith piercing, make sure:

  • You like the way the daith piercing looks.
  • You understand how to take care of the piercing.
  • You’ve had all of your questions addressed by your doctor or piercing professional.
  • You can afford to have this treatment. Insurance doesn’t cover therapeutic piercings.

If you decide to move forward, make sure that you choose a reputable piercing shop. Both the shop and your potential piercer should have the appropriate licensing.

Your potential piercer can answer any questions about the piercing as well as advise you on immediate and long-term care.

You can also talk to your doctor about your current anxiety management plan. They may be able to adjust the dosage of any medications that you’re taking or recommend other treatments.