“So, I heard that there’s an acupuncture point in the ear that you can pierce, and it will stop my migraines, do you know anything about that?”
After months of answering this question, I figured it was time to shed some light on this new treatment for migraines, and a little bit more about auricular acupuncture (ear acupuncture).
The Daith Piercing is a piercing in the innermost cartilage fold of the ear. Advocates say it works in the same way as acupuncture, targeting acupuncture points on the ear to ease pain and discomfort. The piercing itself supposedly causes the central nervous system to produce endorphins and other pain-relieving substances, thereby reducing the painful experience of migraine headaches. Many people have come forth on social media and other mediums to endorse this approach to controlling migraines, while others say they haven’t noticed any changes at all.
Well, this is what I have to ay about it as an acupuncturist…First off, the Daith piercing is not an acupuncture point, nor does it work the same way acupuncture does. Acupuncture doesn’t work directly on the nervous system. Acupuncture treats Qi (energy) imbalances, which can elicit effects on the nervous system, endocrine system, lymphatic system etc. Additionally, it seems people are confusing the Daith piercing with the ear acupuncture protocol known as “NADA”. The NADA protocol stimulates 5 points in the ear to essentially “reset” the way our Qi responds to stress by down-regulating the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and activating the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and repair). The 5 points are located adjacent to the Daith piercing area and include Shen Men, Point Zero, Liver, Kidney, and Endocrine. These points are frequently used for migraine headaches because they treat the root patterns of imbalance common with migraine sufferers; an imbalance of Qi in the Liver and Kidney systems.
That being said, I am not “anti-Daith”; it’s just not acupuncture. Second, I do think there is a possible biomedical explanation for why both the Daith Piercing and the NADA protocol may be effective treatments for migraines. One of the major cranial nerves is the Trigeminal Nerve, and many people suffer from Trigeminal Nerve pathologies whether it’s fully fledged Trigeminal Neuralgia, or some kind of nerve pain that is causing and/or exacerbating migraines. If you look at its locations and area of influence, both the Daith piercing and the NADA protocol are close to this nerve cluster. So, stimulating it with a piercing or acupuncture needles could activate this nerve and essentially rebalance it if it’s become pathological in any way.
In summation, my professional opinion on the Daith Piercing is as such: While it’s not acupuncture, there may be something to it. If you don’t mind getting the piercing, and don’t mind how it looks, it’s worth a shot. The worst case is it doesn’t work and you simply take it out and have $40-60 down the drain. The best case is that you have found a quick and economical solution to a debilitating condition!
And lastly, what I can say is that utilizing acupuncture for migraines (whether it’s the NADA protocol or other aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine) will most assuredly yield results. I have treated countless people with migraines and other types of crippling headaches with great success. It does take time and energy, but it works!
I would love to hear some feedback and personal results with both acupuncture and Daith piercings, so let’s keep the ball rolling!