My Experience with the “Daith” Piercing

I noticed the correlation between the piercing of cartilage areas of my ears and a short term lessening of head pain several years ago, before I began seeing posts and memes about the daith (rhymes with moth) piercing being a supposed “cure” for migraines.

Poll

Not a placebo effect

I got my first cartilage piercings and tattoos about twenty years ago. I like how they look, and I like the process, and always receive a bit of head pain relief afterward. The time I got the most relief was after my tragus piercings, which I had done about one year apart. The tragus is that really thick part of the ear, on the skull side, protecting the entrance to the inner ear. Before the first one, I had been needing to go to the ER every 3-4 weeks, and afterward I didn’t go for several months. It could have been coincidence; what it wasn’t was placebo effect, since I wasn’t expecting anything other than a cool looking accessory. I got the other side done when I took X to the shop to get her earlobes pierced, and noticed relief then as well.

Double conch piercing

Because of my love for piercings, I was a perfect guinea pig for an actual daith piercing to see if it worked. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t have lost anything. So as the piercing “cure” controversy continued swirling that year (2015), I went to my tattoo and body piercing shop and asked specifically for my daith to be pierced. However, the piercer looked at my ear and said that he couldn’t pierce the daith safely, because mine was way too small. This is why I love that shop, and trust the artists who work there. When I told him what I was looking to do, and he suggested a double conch piercing, because he gets migraines as well and noticed a slight improvement after having his done. I readily agreed.

The two punctures were not nearly as painful as the tragus piercings, which makes sense, since that part of the ear is thinner. I super loved the result as far as appearance. They also healed easily and quickly, though lying on my right side was a little painful for a while. Ironically, this time I noticed little to no migraine relief.

Acupuncture points for migraine

Daith piercing sketch with labeled acupuncture points

Author’s sketch of acupuncture points relevant to migraine with the proper daith piercing location.

A couple months later, I found a fabulous article on Live Oak Acupuncture‘s website, written by acupuncturist Kristen Horner Warren with help from piercer Elayne Angel. The first thing I noticed was a photo of an ear with the daith labeled, as well as the actual acupuncture points for migraine, which Live Oak shows with dots in a line down the middle of the ear, closer to my conch piercings than the daith (and even farther from the tragus). I sketched the photo below, adding the tragus and conch labels. It’s definitely worth mentioning that when I googled acupuncture sites on the ear for migraine, I got some varying results, though none of them pointed to the daith. Most commonly the daith area seems to correspond with the large intestine.

Live Oak’s points on the ear for migraine also show that they understand that migraine is a multifaceted illness, since one of those dots definitely lines up with what I found in most images as “stomach.” But anyway, the theory is that the daith piercing works to lessen migraine pain because that spot is an acupuncture point for head pain, that the piercing is almost like a permanent pin in it, putting pressure on just the right spot. But it’s not true. And migraine is much more than just head pain.

Not a cure

Also, this: “The daith is an advanced piercing that is often done incorrectly. A bad piercing… is likely to result in excessive pain and serious problems with healing.” The benefits noted by patients tracked by the pair lasted only one week to approximately one month. “Clinical experience suggests that body piercings offer temporary therapeutic benefit at best. They definitely do not represent a long term cure for any condition, including migraines.”1

Ear with piercings

Author’s ear without daith piercing

And that brings me to my biggest problem with the posts, memes, and articles claiming the daith piercing is beneficial for migraine sufferers: the word “cure.” Migraine is a neurological disease and the symptoms are incredibly difficult to treat and manage. There is no cure–not medication, not surgery, not Botox, TENS units, trigger point injections, not even the newly developed CGRP drugs. And certainly not a difficult to correctly administer and properly heal cartilage piercing.

Do any of you have the daith piercing? Let me know!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References
  1. Kristen Horner Warren,  "No, getting your ear pierced will not cure your migraines," LiveOakAcupuncture.com, Nov. 21 2015.

Comments

View Comments (55)
  • Cappucinno
    3 months ago

    Thank you for this very informative article which was pretty thorough as far as knowledge and common sense. It makes me wonder if it is really something to consider or not. I will tell you this, if I did decide to do it, I would definitely travel to Delaware from New Jersey to use the same exact person who gave this friend of mine close to complete migraine freedom.

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    3 months ago

    Hey Cappucinno, I really appreciate the “very informative article which was pretty thorough as far as knowledge and common sense.” That is exactly what my goal is in my writing for migraine.com. 🙂 I would say if you don’t mind having a piercing and have a bit of extra cash, you have nothing to lose. And yeah, go to Delaware. Happy for your friend! ~elizabeth

  • noonespecial
    5 months ago

    I got my daith piercing it will be 2 yrs in November.
    I can honestly say that when I got mine the migraine went away immediately. Since then I had a couple tell-tell signs but not the unbearable pain, nausea and the sound sensitivity. I had some minor issues being light sensitive in one eye but nothing that sun glasses couldn’t fix. That was all in the first 2 weeks. Since then I am so happy to say I am one of the lucky people that has not had a migraine since. The daith may not be for everyone, but it has done wonders for me. I suffered with migraines since I was 16 and I am now in my mid 40’s. I pray every day that those that suffer with migraines one day find what helps them.

  • KBergma
    1 month ago

    A woman in my Sunday school mentioned that her daughter’s neurologist sent her to get her daith(s) pierced and has not had a migraine since. I’ve been hit with a rash of migraines these last two months, with some lasting for more than 2 days. My appt with my neurologist is next month; I will definitely ask about this as a treatment option. I’m not sure how to frame this question, but who is the best person to do this procedure?

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    5 months ago

    That is AMAZING! I am truly thrilled for you!

  • Scubagirl83
    10 months ago

    I got both sides done at once, now about 2 months ago. I have only had two migraines since, and much less severe. I was at 3-4 per week. My unavoidable trigger is weather.

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    9 months ago

    Hi Scubagirl, weather kills me too. I am so glad you got relief from the piercings, and I hope it continues! take care <3

  • NadGazebo
    10 months ago

    Hi,
    I just read through all the comments. I like that you seem to be trying to puzzle it out. I got my daith piercings in August 2017. Although i felt worse the following day, i had steady improvement after that, and went from taking meds 3-4xper week to none for several months. In February 2018, both got infected (i assume from returning to using earbuds) and i had to have them removed. It was less than 24 hours before i had my head wrapped in ice packs again. I waited the 2 weeks i had to while the infection cleared and then had them pierced again. I was shocked. I had almost convinced myself that maybe i didnt need them.
    As far as the unreliable results, i wonder if its based on the underlying cause. My sister is a reiki and sound therapy practitioner and she was very against my getting the piercings. She was concerned that this is a counduit spot for your energy and that the piercings woukd disrupt it. I told her maybe it was my energy needed to be disrupted. I know it sounds bananas, but my doctor is supportive.
    Like Knight reported, its helped most with mt vertigo and nausea. I tell others that you have nothing to lose by trying it.

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    9 months ago

    That is amazing. The science of it, or lack thereof, confounds me. I also tell people they have nothing to lose, particularly if they like piercings anyway! I’m so glad that it helps you so much.

  • Scruffy123
    10 months ago

    Yes I have the Daith piercing and it has helped me tremendously. Has cut down my headaches by 3/4. It hurt like check but healed pretty quickly.

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    9 months ago

    Wonderful!

  • dragonfly78
    10 months ago

    I’ve had chronic migraines for 30 years, since I was 10. Even with preventative meds I was still having an average of 18 days a month of migraine. The neurologist said the only option I had left was Botox. So, I went and got my right daith pierced, since that was my worst pain side. That was in December of 2017. I had a migraine the day I got it, it was gone in 30 mins. But I figured maybe the pain from the piercing just overran the migraine pain. But it is now May 2018. I’ve only had 1-2 days each month since with a migraine and it coincides with when I start my placebo week on my birth control. I’m thrilled. Now if only it would have helped the Vestibular Migraine, lol.

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    9 months ago

    That is amazing! I’m so glad you got such significant relief from it!

  • Scruffy123
    10 months ago

    Same experience but my 1-2 are caused by weather.

  • lmachale
    1 year ago

    I’ve had regular migraines for years – had both sides done – helped for about a year. My daughter and son both have stomach migraines …… I wonder if it would help them? As I read your article the link between the two might (?) be there. I have not found a lot of information on this type of migraine but they are just as painful as the head type. Have you heard or do you know of anything? Thank you.

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    1 year ago

    Hi,

    Whatever it is that makes the piercing work for people, it’s probably not actually the acupressure points. I got the most relief from my tragus piercings. I’m very glad you got relief! How old are your son and daughter? I know abdominal migraine is awful as well, but I was still getting the additional symptoms, such as nausea, when I wasn’t having as much headpain. I always tell people if they like piercings anyway, there’s nothing to lose in getting this done. I have my doubts about it myself, and I feel even more doubtful about its efficacy with abdominal migraine, so I guess it just depends on what your daughter and son feel about the whole thing. Such a strange, complicated illness we have! Thanks for reading. ~elizabeth

  • charly
    1 year ago

    I had mine done last October and haven’t had a migraine since.. Over a year migraine free.

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    1 year ago

    Charly that’s wonderful! So happy for you! ~elizabeth

  • carolinagirl
    1 year ago

    I got my daith pierced in May on my left side as that is where my migraines were most frequent. I have not had any debilitating migraines on the left side, and those on my right side have been manageable with my medication. However, i thinkmi have made the correlations of not having the debilitating migraines and instead I have extreme face pain in my sinus areas. My sinus headaches used to trigger migraines, and now they don’t. My family dr referred me to ent, who in turn referred me to a neurologist bc he thinks my problem is nerve malfunctions at the base of the brain. Waiting for neurology to call with appointment now.

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    12 months ago

    Hi Carolinagirl, sorry for this delayed reply! It’s so interesting that you noticed an improvement and then it was almost as though your migraines found another way to get to you. I have often had that happen as well with various treatments or food elimination diets. I call it “the intelligence of Medusa” (which is what I named my migraine disease). I hope your neurology appt went well! Thanks for being here and take care. ~elizabeth

  • Joann
    1 year ago

    Yep. My daith was pierced two years ago. I got no relief whatsoever. Now I just look like a cool grandma!

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    12 months ago

    Joann, cool grandmas are the best! Good for you! Sorry that you didn’t get relief from the piercing though. Take care and thank you for your comment! ~elizabeth

  • lb123
    1 year ago

    I had this piercing done about two years ago because of my chronic migraines. I had read great reviews about it working. It worked for a few weeks after I got it pierced, but my migraines came back. I love the piercing for the look, and also found it slightly difficult or painful to have headphones in. I have found other things that help my migraines. Currently, I use Migrelief and lavender mint roll-on aromatherapy. Hope this helps!

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    12 months ago

    Hello! I used to use Migrelief but stopped because one of the ingredients was bothering me (I can’t remember which and I take B2, feverfew, and magnesium separately now) and I love menthol and peppermint. I’m sorry that the piercing didn’t help but glad that you have other methods of treatment. Take care! ~elizabeth

  • coni208
    1 year ago

    Elizabeth, how does the Conch piercing work… never heard of it for migraines and can’t find anything that talks about it, though my acupuncturist would put a needle at the top inside, of my ear… I would do it along with my Daith…. it looks nicer too!

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    1 year ago

    Hi Coni, the reason you can’t find anything on conch and migraine is because the spot people seem to have the most luck with and the only one discussed for migraine is the daith. Mine just couldn’t be pierced so I decided on another spot. The most relief I got was from my tragus piercing on both sides but that was all coincidence. I had those done because I wanted to, not for migraine. The science behind this is iffy to non-existent and it may be that different spots work for different people. ~elizabeth

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    1 year ago

    Hi Coni208, did you see it in the photo of my ear above? Mine is actually two piercings about a centimeter or so apart, in the “shell” part of the ear. It would need to be a stud with a flat back. The daith is the only piercing I’ve ever heard specifically referenced as therapeutic for migraine and I got the two conch piercings since my daith was too small to safely pierce. Because that section of the ear is so thin, it wasn’t super painful, but it also didn’t help. I like how they look though!

  • KSvendsen
    1 year ago

    I had the daith piercing done about 3 weeks ago. It was done by a piercer who also suffers migraines and seemed quite knowledgeable about the piercing and how to do it correctly for maximum effect

    I noticed a mild difference in my pain level on the side of my head that the piercing was done on for about a week. Since then my migraine have gone back to its uapsual Level – at least a 6/10 24/7.

  • coni208
    1 year ago

    So sorry KSvendsen…..

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    1 year ago

    KSvendsen, I’m so sorry that you didn’t get good results. It’s interesting to me, honestly, that so many people HAVE had success with it. It makes no sense. I had much better luck with my tragus piercings than the conch, which was actually closer in placement. Who knows! I’m so sorry you’re suffering, but remember you’re not alone. ~all the best, elizabeth

  • coni208
    1 year ago

    My one neurologist, said I don’t believe in it, he is young and a few years out of school, who even knows more than I do about MY migraines, no one knows more about their pain, than the person having it, before he was born,,,.. my friend who Dr. was at one of the top rated hospitals in Philadelphia told her to have it done…. My ENT and my primary doctor, both were fascinated with it and both said it has to do with Acupuncture and Acupressure … Both are from other countries… both are for, not using meds, if not needed…Which is why I like them both!!

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    1 year ago

    Agreed. I had a very highly regarded headache specialist and I left her because I felt that she was trying to fit my round migraine disease into a square hole. It didn’t fit. About the daith again, you would think it had to do with acupressure, except that it isn’t quite the right placement! So interesting. ~elizabeth

  • coni208
    1 year ago

    Love, Love, Love my Daith…. like many of you, I had nothing to lose, except the pain of a migraine, which became chronic…My triggers are stress, 2 sons and a high strung hubby, and weather…. big storms are killer….had it done July 18th, and on the 20th my husband told me the daith must be working, I asked him why, he pointed out the storm came and went, and I wasn’t locked in my room….
    On the rare occasion I get one, 1 Motrin works, no lie a Motrin… that has never happened and my Maxalt, wasn’t always working…. I have only had 1 Migraine that I had to take 1 Maxalt and I was fine…. I have sent a few, to have it done, and they have also had success!!

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    1 year ago

    Coni208, that is awesome! I love hearing these success stories. I hope it continues for you, and if not, get the other side done! Thanks so much for your comment and for being here. ~ All the best, elizabeth

  • coni208
    1 year ago

    Thank you Elizabeth….. I am thinking about getting the other side done….

  • Gracie1962
    1 year ago

    I had the daith piercing last April, I was to the point I would try almost anything. My migraines were mainly on my left side, my pain Dr. told. to me to make sure that I get the right side pierced. I have to say I’m impressed. My migraines were starting to last weeks. I’ve only had a few left sided migraines since the piercing, but now they have jumped to the right side. In the next week or so I will be going to get the left side done. It was sore for a few days but I didn’t have any problems with the healing. I’m a little more nervous having the left side pierced as I will have to sleep on my right side until it heals up some. I have problems sleeping on my right side due to my Ruptured Brain Aneurysm was on the right side, and the plates, screws are right by the right ear. Hopefully lots of pillows will do the trick.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi Gracie1962! I absolutely understand your anxiety. Maybe one of those U-shaped neck pillows could help, it would support your head and leave your ear in the “gully” with no pressure. Please do stop back and let us know how it all goes! -Warmly, Donna (Migraine.com team)

  • CandyP
    1 year ago

    I got my daith piercing in July of this year. I knew going in this wasn’t a guarantee migraine eleminator, but figured I had nothing to loose. No single medication has worked and have gotten a bleeding ulcer from the Ibuprofen that I’d been throwing in the mix for ages (my own fault). So the piercing was just another step in hopes of some kind of relief, even if it could bring down my total migraines (3× a month, lasting 2-7 days) and headaches almost daily. I got the piercing on both sides and it has helped immensely. I had no headaches or migraines for two months. After that I have had one very low grade migraine, and one or two low grade headaches (where OTC medicine actually worked if needed), and even those have been more of a presdire type headache. I’m quite happy with my piercings and even if it doesn’t help forever it is giving me relief now. Just a FYI, I did go to a professional at a piercing/tattoo shop and my migraines are never just one side, though my regular headaches at times were.

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    1 year ago

    Candy! I got a bleeding ulcer from NSAIDs too! So I hear you. Mine also change sides. Eventually, mine did come back, but if you like the piercings, maybe consider getting a new one every six months or so. Some locations helped me more than others. Good luck!

  • tat2scrapper
    1 year ago

    I swore I’d try anything to lessen or stop my a-typical chronic migraines. So that included jamming a piece of metal through my ears. I did the daith piercing on both sides. The piercing itself wasn’t bad at all. I’m not thrilled with body piecing, I collect tattoos but a gals gotta do, what a gals gotta do.
    I was hopeful but realistic. It was out of my hands
    And I’m here to report….. nada. No change except I have two shiny silver moons through my ear.
    Heavy sigh
    I’m back to the mantra of “I’ll try anything”. And I dream that someday I’ll have less than 20-28 migraines a month.
    I’m also happy for anyone that gets any relief (perhaps even jealous on my bad days)

  • DonnaFA moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi, tatscrapper. Unfortunately, like all treatments, the results of daith-piercing are highly variable.I’m so sorry that you didn’t receive any relief with yours, especially since you are not a fan of piercings. I’m sending all good wishes that you soon find some relief, and for a gentle day and evening. -Warmly, Donna (Migraine.com team)

  • Imjcn
    1 year ago

    I went to a professional tattoo and piercing shop to get my daith piercing and when she was done, i was pretty sure it was wrong. Since I wasn’t the professional, I didn’t say anything, but long story short, my piercing doesn’t work. $75 down the drain. I’ve spent thousands on migraines over the years, what’s a little more? 🙁

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    12 months ago

    It’s hard to know whether it didn’t “work” because it was done incorrectly, or it just didn’t work for you. Very frustrating. I hope you are at least happy with how it looks. :/ Take care, elizabeth

  • marti
    1 year ago

    I got a daith piercing about a year and a half ago hoping it would help, but it made absolutely no difference in my migraines. I was a little sad, but I do love the way the piercing looks, so it’s not a total loss.

  • Karen Curry
    1 year ago

    I’m not at all against piercings, I love them, but, I can’t help to wonder if you put a hole in the pressure point to relieve the pain, the pressure point is no longer there, it’s been destroyed by a hole. I have used my mother-in-laws old earrings that screw on the ear lobe and put them on the pressure points and that has helped.

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    1 year ago

    That is super interesting Karen. It clearly works for some and not others. I’m glad using the fake earrings helps, and that does make sense! Pressure. Thanks for your comment!

  • mountainiris
    1 year ago

    I had read (and re-read) various posts, articles, etc. about the piercings and decided to finally give it a try in January. I have never had a one-sided migraine, but instead always the full head—all over. I couldn’t decide from my readings which might be better to get pierced…the tragus or the daith (I guess it’s mostly opinion and each person is different). SOOO…I opted to get both, hoping to double my chances for success! I have a pretty high tolerance of pain so while the piercings did hurt, it wasn’t enough to cry or not get another. For the first (and only) time in my 35 years of migraines, the night of my piercing, I ended up with a one-sided migraine! Incredibly weird, ironic, coincidental; I’m not quite sure.

    My most difficult time has been the healing time for the tragus though. It has only been a couple of weeks now that it DOES NOT hurt every single day. The piercer said it could take about 8-12 months to heal, so I guess she was right. Unfortunately, I have seen no migraine relief from my piercings. I was hoping once the tragus healed completely that I might be able to apply extra pressure there during a migraine, but only time will tell.

    I would warn any migraineur considering the tragus piercing to consider your sleep practices. It was nearly impossible to sleep with my icepacks or lay on that side because of the pressure against the piercing. Another major problem has been using my usual soft ear plugs during migraine attacks…they are more difficult to insert and also cause pressure on the piercing, which in turn, causes pain during the LONG healing process.

    Overall I don’t regret getting the piercings, but wish I had more relief. Onto the next experimental pain solution/migraine relief, I suppose!

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    1 year ago

    Mountain Iris, yes. The tragus piercings are AWFUL to heal, and are the most painful of all of the ear piercings I think. I did only one at a time which helped so that I had at least one non-painful side! Like everything with migraine, it’s clearly different for everyone. I got the most relief from my tragus piercings and I have lots of different ones. I’m glad you at least don’t totally regret doing it! Thanks for being here.

  • kknight
    1 year ago

    I got a daith piercing about two years ago and it helped with my vertigo and nausea more than head pain. Getting on the right medication had helped my head pain but boy was it a journey to get where I am!!

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    1 year ago

    kknight, that is so interesting! you’re the first person i’ve heard of who had improvements with other symptoms but not head pain. i am so glad you finally found the right medication for you and totally understand that long and frustrating journey. i’m thrilled that your journey had a happy(ish) ending. the best happy ending would be a cure for all of us! thank you so much for reading and commenting.

  • scarpenter56
    1 year ago

    I got a daith piercing on the same side as I have my migraines the week after Christmas last year. The only other piercings I have are the regular ear lobe piercings for earrings. The daith piercing has drastically reduced the number of migraines that I suffer. I went from 3-4 per week to a period of none for 3 months before I had one and then over the summer months, I experienced 3 – 4 total and now I’m back to maybe 1/month. I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. I’m also on a maximum dosage of Topamax & Elavil and my doctor was pushing me to try Botox, but I wanted to give this a try first.

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    1 year ago

    Scarpenter56, I am so thrilled for you that you got such positive results! The number of people commenting on Facebook, also, seems to show that science and medical opinion can’t explain everything regarding this complicated disease.

    Mixi, the maximum dose of Elavil / amytriptaline I have found for migraine is a slow titration up to 100 mg daily, but a doctor would have to decide the best dose for you based on other health factors.

    Thank you both for reading and commenting!

  • Mixi
    1 year ago

    Hi scarpenter56,
    What is the maximum dosage for elavil, please?
    Thanks

  • Noomi
    1 year ago

    I don’t have a daith or tragus piercing at this time, but I have read more reports of people having less head pain after these places are pierced. I have 13 piercings at the moment, but never got a conch, daith, or tragus piercing….I’ve wanted one lately. Maybe I’ll try it 🙂

    Thanks for your experiences, really interesting!

  • Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel moderator author
    1 year ago

    Thank you Noomi! If you like piercings, I would recommend the tragus if you are going to experiment with possible short term migraine relief. My experience may have just been coincidence, of course. And the tragus is also super painful to pierce and heal. But at least it looks cool! We’re glad you’re here and I appreciate your comment.

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