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In the last decade or so, body modifications like piercings and tattoos have lost some of their social stigma and are now more widely accepted. However, there’s new evidence to suggest that piercings aren’t just about self-expression anymore. Some, including the daith piercing, may actually have hidden health benefits.
One of the most common piercings for health reasons is the daith piercing. This is a piercing of the innermost cartilage fold of the ear, or the small flap of cartilage that partially covers the opening of the ear canal. It’s said to prevent migraines, and many people – including children – are visiting piercing parlors for their turn in the chair. There are no real clinical studies, but polls show that these piercings can be beneficial for many people.
Before delving into how a daith piercing is said to help with migraines, it’s important to note a few very important facts.
Those who seem to back the idea of the daith piercing as a preventative measure for migraines usually point to the relief provided by acupuncture. Several acupuncturists, including Dr. Will Foster, claim that the piercing passes through a pressure point in the ear that corresponds to the digestive system. With that knowledge in mind, it’s believed that those who have migraines due to digestive troubles could physically benefit from the procedure.
Of course, there are some cases in which receiving a piercing to combat migraines could provide nothing more than a placebo effect. One headache specialist, Dr. Emad Emestalmak, disagrees with the acupuncture benefit. He claims that patients may be experiencing a placebo effect, instead. The placebo effect occurs when someone truly believes a treatment is beneficial, which creates an improvement in symptoms. It’s very common in clinical trials of newly developed medications, too.
A researcher from MigrainePal, an online source of information for migraine sufferers, decided to take a poll to gauge the efficacy of the daith piercing for the prevention of migraines. Out of a total of 380 respondents, nearly half (47%) claimed that they had noticeable decreases in the frequency of their migraines. For some, the decrease in frequency was enough to change their lives. Roughly 48% of respondents said their migraine frequency stayed the same. About 54% of respondents claimed that the piercing reduced the severity of their migraines; 46% claimed there was no reduction in severity. Other statistics are equally impressive.
Regardless, the largest group of respondents claimed the daith piercing had no effect on their migraines at all, and 4.8% claimed their migraines were more frequent or severe after the piercing than before. Bear in mind that this research is quite limited, and as of 2017, it remains the largest poll of its kind.
With this information in mind, it’s safe to say that a daith piercing provides about a 50% chance of offering relief in some way, whether that relief comes in the form of reductions in frequency or severity. However, there’s also a very slim chance (about 5%) that a daith piercing may exacerbate migraines. It’s a personal choice and one people should make on a case-by-case basis after carefully researching the risks and benefits.
While the daith piercing is the most popular and widely-circulated example of how piercings can affect one’s health in a positive way, it’s certainly not the first example. In fact, piercings for health benefits date back hundreds or even thousands of years, and many got their start in Eastern cultures, such as in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.
With all this information in mind, and with studies, polls, and even clinical trials behind it, the decision to pierce part of your body is not one that should be made lightly. Remember that infection is always a risk, too. In the case of the daith piercing, there’s a good chance you may experience relief if the polls are to be believed, but there’s a slight risk you may make your condition worse.
You might also like to read our write on how to stop headaches with a few lifestyle changes.