An illustration showing a person with a daith piercing in the fold of skin above their ear canal. Share on Pinterest

Migraine is a neurological condition that typically causes painful headaches, usually on just one side of the head. Migraine headaches are often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

These symptoms can interfere with your daily life and, in some cases, last for days. So it’s no surprise that there’s a lot of interest in finding effective treatment options.

Recently, there’s been some speculation that daith piercings can help relieve migraine. But what exactly is a daith piercing and can it help treat or prevent migraine attacks?

A daith piercing is a piercing of the fold of cartilage that’s just above the entrance to your ear canal. There are currently no research studies to confirm that daith piercings can alleviate migraine pain beyond anecdotal evidence.

Read on to learn more about daith piercings and migraine, plus other methods that may help you to manage your symptoms.

The connection between piercing and migraine relief is tied to acupuncture, an ancient Chinese medicine-based approach to treating various conditions by triggering specific points on the body with needles.

Acupuncture is a popular alternative treatment for headaches and migraine, and the ear has certain pressure points used in modern-day acupuncture.

Daith piercings for migraine relief gained popularity in the mid-2010s. Supporters of this treatment claimed that the daith piercing activates a pressure point which may help relieve migraine symptoms.

The pressure points in the ear are in very specific locations and would need to be identified by a trained acupuncturist to ensure the piercing was in the right spot. Even then, there’s no scientific evidence that suggests daith piercings are effective in treating migraine symptoms.

In one case study in 2017, the participant’s migraine symptoms improved after getting a daith piercing. The researchers concluded that more clinical studies are needed to link the procedure to migraine relief.

But the researchers also warned about the risks of daith piercings, and the possibility that symptom relief may be the result of the placebo effect.

The placebo effect occurs when you undergo an inactive treatment and have fewer symptoms as a result. This is a psychological condition and the benefits of the inactive treatment usually wear off over time.

In another study, researchers looked at a range of alternative treatments for daily chronic headaches.

The researchers concluded that the lack of evidence on the effectiveness of daith piercings for headaches or migraine prevented them from recommending it. The authors of this study grouped other treatments in this category, including reflexology, aromatherapy, and hydrotherapy.

Daith piercings target the fold of cartilage just above your ear canal. All piercings carry some risk, but cartilage piercings are often more risky than earlobe piercings.

Daith piercings can have many complications, such as:

  • infection
  • bleeding
  • swelling
  • scarring
  • lingering pain
  • development of an abscess
  • possible removal of infected cartilage
  • worsening migraine symptoms

Also, the piercing spot is in a very precise location and may be difficult to pierce. It can also be very painful.

If you decide that a daith piercing is worth the risk, look for a licensed piercer to do it for you. Afterwards, be sure to keep the piercing site clean until it heals.

Research has shown that there are a number of other alternative therapies that may help with migraine symptoms. Some may even help reduce the frequency of migraine attacks.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been used for many years to treat a wide range of pain, including migraine. Studies suggest that it may be an effective therapy.

Auriculotherapy

Another option is auriculotherapy. This is a type of acupuncture that’s focused on the ear.

Practitioners of this therapy may use needles, seeds, or their own fingers to apply pressure to specific points on the ear. Research suggests that this therapy may be effective for helping to relieve pain.

Meditation

Recently, research has also shown that mindfulness meditation may help reduce pain intensity, and may be a good treatment option for people living with migraine.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a therapy that helps you tune into your body and adjust accordingly.

You measure responses in your body like how tense your muscles are, or other reactions to stress. Then you can learn how to relax, or decrease your reaction to stress, in an effort to relieve migraine symptoms.

Dietary supplements and more

Some dietary supplements may also help migraine symptoms. These include:

Studies have also shown that ginger may be helpful in treating migraine pain.

Some of the most popular types of conventional migraine treatments include:

  • over-the-counter pain relievers like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or those that specifically target migraine
  • prescription medications like triptans, ergots, steroids, beta-blockers, antidepressants, and anti-seizure drugs
  • injectable medications administered by a doctor

There’s no research to date that indicates that daith piercings can help relieve migraine symptoms. This type of piercing can be difficult to do and may result in an infection and other side effects.

If you want to try an alternative therapy to help your migraine attacks, you may want to look into treatments that are supported by research. Some options include acupuncture, auriculotherapy, mindfulness meditation, or biofeedback.

Also talk to your doctor about conventional methods that may help relieve migraine pain.