There’s been much talk of this trendy piercing helping to alleviate headaches, but is there any truth in it? We spoke to acupuncturists, piercers and the Migraine Trust to find out
If you follow fashion influencers on Insta, chances are you’ll regularly see pictures of the curated ear in your feed – you know the ones, four gold hoops stacked on the lobe, complemented by sparkling studs in the cartilage and a bar for good measure. But rather than simply being a way to make a fashion statement - and of wearing all your Maria Tash jewellery at once - daith piercing (on the innermost fold - see the hoops in our picture, above) is said to ward off migraines. The Migraine Trust says it has had many enquiries on Twitter and Facebook from people wanting to know whether it can help.
Anecdotal evidence says it might. “I’ve had a big uptake in clients coming in for daith piercings due to the theory that they help prevent migraines,” confirms Nicole Mitchell, head piercer at London piercing studio Sacred Gold . “A few of them reported back that it helped to stop their migraines for a few months.”
The daith is an area often targeted in auriculotherapy, an alternative therapy that's said to work in the same way as reflexology on the feet. You might see people wearing tiny ear seeds - stick-on dots said to target specific pressure points which you can press on to stimulate throughout the day. "There are multitudes of points in the ear which correspond to every organ, hormone and system in the body, which can be used to treat issues from sleeplessness to addiction to migraine," says Chinese medicine practitioner and acupuncturist Katie Brindle, founder of the Hayo'u method.
“I’ve seen many clients in clinic who have had their daith pierced and swear by it,” Katie continues. “A daith piercing stimulates the point related to migraines, in the same way that an ear seed is applied to maintain energy flow, but a piercing is a more intense version.”
Ada Ooi, acupuncturist, facialist and founder of 001 Skincare disagrees on the similarity between ear seeds and piercings, though. "Ear seeds work by stimulating pressure points in the ear within a certain period of time, whereas a piercing is a permanent hole, which won't introduce further stimulation after the initial piercing."
But is there any concrete evidence for daith piercing as a migraine preventative? “I can’t see any direct connection between the position of a daith piercing and an acupressure point for migraines,” Katie says. “However, stimulating this part of the ear may correct an underlying imbalance in the body which contributes to migraines.”
“Most likely, the daith piercing is affecting the vagus nerve (the nerve that transmits information to or from the surface of the brain to tissues and organs elsewhere in the body), via a branch near the ear, which can affect various neurotransmitters and hormones that can contribute to the issue – it’s been proven that stimulating the vagus nerve can alleviate migraine.”
Nicole backs this up too: “Generally if a piercing is said to help with health issues, it’s in accordance with acupuncture pressure points. But in my professional experience, with over seven years of piercing, the evidence is anecdotal and not back up my scientific research.”
Una Farrell spokesperson at The Migraine Trust was quick to dispel the idea that a daith piercing could cure headaches, simply telling us: “There is no evidence that daith piercing works to help migraine.”
I can’t help but be a little bit swayed by the connection between acupressure points and the alleviation of migraines, but as Nicole points out: “For most a daith piercing is purely for aesthetics. If it helps anyone out with their migraines then I’m glad; it’s an awesome piercing that looks fantastic in the ear."