No scientific evidence supports the claim that daith piercings can cure migraines

By: Annet Preethi Furtado
April 29 2024

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No scientific evidence supports the claim that daith piercings can cure migraines

Screenshot of the TikTok videos claiming that a daith piercing can cure migraines. (Source: TikTok/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

Health organizations and experts do not advise a daith piercing as a treatment option for migraines and warn against it for its potential risks.

Claim ID 5c2c68e9

What's the claim?

The concept of a daith piercing as a treatment for migraines has gained traction on various platforms. On TikTok, videos extolling the purported benefits of daith piercings for migraines have amassed hundreds of thousands of views. 

For instance, a TikTok video with more than one million views claims a daith piercing can permanently eradicate headaches. The video captures a person undergoing the procedure. 

Similarly, another TikTok video, viewed more than two million times, depicts a person claiming that after years of unsuccessful medical treatments for migraines, they have discovered a cure in an $80 daith piercing, despite skepticism from medical professionals.

The archives of the posts can be found here and here.

Screenshots of TikTok videos. (Source: TikTok/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, no scientific evidence supports this technique’s efficacy in curing migraines.

So, what exactly is a daith piercing? 

A daith piercing involves the insertion of jewelry through the cartilage fold just above the entrance of the ear canal. 

This practice has garnered attention due to its perceived connection to migraine alleviation, drawing parallels with acupuncture — an ancient Chinese medicinal technique. The theory behind daith piercing's potential to alleviate migraines lies in the continuous pressure applied to these points by the jewelry.

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice involving the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body to alleviate pain. The NHS states it works by: “stimulating sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles.” It adds: “This results in the body producing natural substances, such as pain-relieving endorphins. It's likely that these naturally released substances are responsible for the beneficial effects experienced with acupuncture.”

Is there any scientific evidence? 

The research on this topic does not provide scientific evidence about the benefits of such a piercing; instead, it highlights the placebo effect as an explanation for the alleviation of symptoms of individuals. This is when someone experiences an improvement in their symptoms after receiving an inactive treatment due to the belief the treatment will work. 

Such a piercing is also associated with risks, and more research is needed to understand its benefits.

In a 2017 case study titled "Daith Piercing in a Case of Chronic Migraine: A Possible Vagal Modulation," published on PubMed, researchers documented the case of a male patient whose migraine symptoms improved after undergoing a daith piercing. However, the researchers acknowledged the possibility of the placebo effect reducing the individual’s symptoms.

The study also noted there were many reports of persisting pain, worsening attacks, or slow healing over months. In addition, the researchers mentioned the risk of infection associated with a piercing at this site. In conclusion, the study noted it is not recommended for migraine treatment because of a lack of scientific evidence, a rate of failure, and associated risks.

Another 2020 study titled "Daith Piercing: Wonder Treatment or Untested Fad?" published on PubMed talked about a woman who reported a similar experience. However, the study concluded that despite its perceived simplicity and affordability, daith piercing lacks clear mechanisms of action and possesses potential side effects, including infectious and non-infectious complications. 

What do experts say?

Dr PN Renjen, Senior Consultant in Neurology at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, told Logically Facts, "The idea that getting a daith piercing can cure migraines has gained some popularity in recent years but remains highly controversial in the medical community. Proponents of this piercing claim that it can help alleviate migraine symptoms by hitting a pressure point and working on the principles of acupressure."

However, he added, "Anecdotal reports from people who have gotten daith piercings seem to be the main driving force behind this trend, with some stating that their migraine attacks became less frequent or less severe after obtaining the piercing. However, the scientific evidence in support of daith piercings for migraines is virtually non-existent."

Further, he said, "There have been no large-scale, rigorous clinical trials studying the effects of this type of ear piercing on migraine disorders. Most neurologists, headache specialists, and migraine experts are highly skeptical of the purported benefits and do not recommend daith piercings as an actual treatment. They argue that any positive effects are likely just a placebo effect. The consensus is that proven preventative medications, lifestyle changes, avoiding triggers, and evidence-based acute treatments remain the best way to manage migraines based on current medical knowledge. Without solid data from research studies, daith piercings are dismissed as an unproven alternative therapy for migraines by mainstream medicine."

What do health authorities say?

The American Migraine Foundation (AMF) cautions against the use of daith piercings as a treatment for migraines. Furthermore, daith piercings carry a significant risk of infection, leading AMF to advise against attempting this natural remedy due to the potential harm it poses.

It mentions that leading headache specialists, researchers, and advocates in the United States echo this sentiment, emphasizing that the risks associated with daith piercings outweigh any potential benefits. Moreover, the AMF firmly opposes such piercings from nonmedical sources as a solution to migraine pain.

Debbie Shipley, Head of Information and Services at the British charity Migraine Trust, told Logically Facts, "At the moment, there is not sufficient evidence that points to the efficacy of daith piercings as a means of addressing migraine. As with other alternative approaches to migraine care, we hear from some people who feel they have worked for them, while others say they have not helped or have even worsened migraine symptoms for them."

In conclusion, while daith piercings for migraines may show promise as a remedy, further research is necessary before they can be considered a legitimate treatment option.

The verdict

The current evidence does not support daith piercing as a cure for migraines due to insufficient scientific evidence and risks of failure and infections associated with it. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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