June 7, 2023

Can a Daith Piercing Prevent Chronic Migraines?

They might look cool, but there’s no scientific evidence that daith piercings ward off pain

Daith piercing in ear cartilage hoping for migraine relief.

If you’re among the 12% of the U.S. population who get chronic migraines or episodic migraines, you know how intensely painful one of these can be. Unfortunately, there’s no permanent cure for the tendency to get migraines.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Maybe you’ve tried everything to get rid of the excruciating hurt, including pain-relieving pills, changes to your diet and aromatherapy.

You might even be willing to try an ear piercing for migraines.

While more of a fashion statement than a medical cure, a daith piercing comes with claims it will get rid of migraines forever.

So, does it work?

Headache specialist Emad Estemalik, MD, clears up the rumors about getting a daith piercing for migraines.

What is a daith piercing?

A daith piercing is a piercing in the place where the cartilage ridge inside your outer ear, called the helix, ends above the opening to your ear canal. An earring can be worn in the hole and you can get a daith piercing in one or both ears.

Acupuncture targets this area to relieve migraine headache pain, so the theory is that piercing this trigger point can permanently relieve migraines. But there’s no guarantee a daith piercing would be in the exact same spot used for acupuncture.

Advertisement

Does a daith piercing help prevent migraines?

The exact causes of migraines are unknown, although they’re related to changes in the brain, as well as genetic causes. People with migraines may inherit the tendency to be affected by certain migraine triggers like fatigue, bright lights, weather changes and others.

For many years, scientists believed that migraines were linked to the expanding and narrowing of blood vessels on your brain’s surface. But it’s now believed that migraines are caused by inherited abnormalities in certain areas of your brain.

A migraine begins when hyperactive nerve cells send out impulses to your blood vessels, leading to the blood vessels expanding and the release of prostaglandins, serotonin and other inflammatory substances that cause your blood’s pulsing to be painful.

But Dr. Estemalik says there’s no medical research to support the theory that a daith piercing helps prevent migraines.

While some people swear that a daith piercing gets rid of their migraines, what’s probably at work is a temporary placebo effect, he notes.

A placebo is an inactive treatment, such as a sugar pill, that mimics an active medication or therapy. The placebo effect happens when you believe the placebo (whether a pill or, in this case, a piercing) is effective. In turn, the placebo affects the medical condition — and can positively affect the perception of pain.

“Placebos aside, there is no scientific evidence or clinical trial results that support ear piercing as a solution to migraines,” Dr. Estemalik says. “There’s nothing in literature I’ve heard of. Nothing I’ve read about. Nothing I have studied out there that supports such a procedure to treat migraine headaches. Receiving a piercing in that area will not alter the pain pathway of migraine.”

Advertisement

Are there any piercings that can help prevent migraines?

So, what about other popular ear piercings like a tragus piercing or rook piercing? Do they help prevent migraines?

First, let’s learn what these piercings are:

  • Tragus piercing: This ear piercing is placed on the small cartilage near the entrance of your ear canal.
  • Rook piercing: This is an inner ear piercing that sits in the upper portion of your ear on the ridge along the outer and inner ear.

Some people have also claimed that these two piercings have helped alleviate migraines similar to a daith piercing. But Dr. Estemalik says that while studies have focused on daith piercings, there isn’t any scientific evidence that any kind of ear piercing can help with migraines.

What to do for migraines instead

To try to nip migraines in the bud, skip the jewelry and instead focus on the following:

  • Eating a healthy diet. Certain foods like aged cheese, pepperoni, hot dogs and deli meat, along with drinks that contain alcohol and caffeine, can cause migraines. Skipping a meal can also incite a migraine. Dr. Estemalik suggests avoiding any trigger foods and drinks and try eating smaller meals throughout the day.
  • Managing your stress levels. When we’re stressed, our brains release certain chemicals that can bring on a migraine. And if we’re anxious, worried or even excited, those emotions increase muscle tension and dilate our blood vessels, which can lead to a migraine. Activities like yoga and meditation can help relieve.
  • Working with your doctor to learn about migraine management. Talking to your healthcare provider about your migraines can help determine the best course of treatment — whether that’s focusing on avoiding your triggers or prescription medications, or a combination of both. Try keeping a migraine journal to help you and your healthcare provider understand the frequency and duration of your migraines.

And while it may be tempting to add an earring here or there in the hopes that it may help with your migraines, Dr. Estemalik says it’s better to focus on the tried-and-true methods.

“I would never recommend ear piercing for one of my patients,” he states. “The danger of infection from a piercing of this site strongly outweighs any unproven benefit.”

Related Articles

female on couch reading a nasal spray bottle label
February 20, 2024
What To Know About Nasal Spray for Migraines

Among the options is a fast-acting medication that offers relief in as little as 15 minutes

Male with eyes closed sitting hunched over, pinching area between their eyes
January 29, 2024
Headache and Fatigue: 11 Possible Causes That Can Trigger Both

Many factors, like dehydration, a cold or even your medication, can result in these common symptoms

foods enriched with vitamin b12
August 20, 2023
4 Health Benefits of Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

This vitamin helps access energy, prevent migraines and anemia, and protect your vision

Patient with back pain walking into doctor's appointment while doctor holds door.
August 1, 2023
7 Causes of Chronic Pain

Arthritis, migraines and endometriosis are common causes of chronic pain

Top view of a person holding acoffee cup over a table at breakfast.
June 8, 2023
Does Caffeine Help Migraines?

A little can help, too much can hurt

Person with migraine headache sleeping under blanket.
June 6, 2023
11 Migraine Remedies To Help Tackle Symptoms

Getting enough sleep, avoiding dietary triggers and reducing stress can provide relief

Person lying on couch holding head in darkened room.
June 5, 2023
Are Migraines Hereditary?

Your genes may offer some insight when learning about your migraine symptoms

person sitting with migraine pains and visible aura
June 4, 2023
How Long Do Migraines Last?

Migraine length depends on your triggers, health history and whether they are chronic

Trending Topics

glass of cherry juice with cherries on table
Sleepy Girl Mocktail: What’s in It and Does It Really Make You Sleep Better?

This social media sleep hack with tart cherry juice and magnesium could be worth a try

Exercise and diet over three months is hard to accomplish.
Everything You Need To Know About the 75 Hard Challenge

Following five critical rules daily for 75 days may not be sustainable

Person in foreground standing in front of many presents with person in background holding gift bags.
What Is Love Bombing?

This form of psychological and emotional abuse is often disguised as excessive flattery

Ad