By Meterologist Carmen Rose
A new trend called daith piercings is gaining popularity, but not for aesthetic reasons.
The advanced piercing is in the middle ridge of your ear and people claim that after the piercing their headaches and migraines are gone.
The daith piercing looks painful, but it’s not much worse than getting your ear lobes pierced, and for some people just a little bit of pain is worth it for even the potential of headache relief.
Mandy Tarvin is one of those people.
Before she got her daith piercing about a month ago, she suffered from debilitating migraines several time a month.
After getting the daith piercing, she has not had one migraine.
“Coming from a stand point of I’ve tried different over the counter medications and I’ve had different prescription medications and putting all those into my body…this was quick and fairly easy. It was painless. I won’t say it’s completely painless cause it wasn’t, but it only hurt for a minute. And to go from all those medications to a piece of jewelry, I’ll take that,” says Tarvin.
And she’s not the only one that says the piercing works.
Royal Anchor Tattoo Parlour in Columbus is seeing an increase in customers coming in for daith piercings.
“Nearly everybody that comes in that wants the daith piercing, they tell me they have headaches,” says Royal Anchor Tattoo Parlour employee Whitley Solis.
Vincent Sanchez has been doing piercings for 26 years – 17 of those have been at Royal Anchor, and he’s seen the increase in customers wanting daith piercings first hand.
“It’s considered an advanced piercing. Every five to seven years it picks up a lot of energy where people realize ‘hey, this is kinda cool.’ This last time it’s been affiliated with alleviating migraines and headaches and stuff so it’s just caught a lot of traction this time,” says Sanchez.
He says he has to order extra equipment to keep up with the demand from a range of people coming in for the piercing.
“I had a 65-year-old woman come in here and her husband was explaining, ‘I hope this works, I hope this works.’ And I was like I’m not even gonna charge you because he said she’s had so many problems since when she was a little girl, so hopefully it does work.”
The reasoning behind how the daith piercing could work to relieve headaches is related to acupuncture.
The ancient Chinese technique places needles on specific points on your body, including you ears, to relieve pressure and relax muscles. This is to help balance the flow of Qi (pronounced chee) or energy.
Dr. Duan Huang has his MD and PhD degrees and is a certified physician acupuncturist. He runs Huang’s Integrative Medicine with his wife – Joan Huang, RN – in Columbus.
“Sometimes headaches are a function of your brain so your brain is reflected in a particular part of your ear so you can actually use it to treat your headaches,” says Huang.
This is called reflexology – which states the whole body can be reflected in your ear, palms or feet for example.
A typical acupuncture treatment is one hour. About 10 to 20 minutes are spent talking about what hurts or not and the treatment lasts 30 to 40 minutes.
After the needles are put in and taken out, patients say they feel immediate relief.
“And the effect usually lasts ranging from hours to a few weeks – even after that. So if someone claims that a piercing is gone after a few hours, a few days and the headache is gone for a week or two, that is very possible.”
But the part of the ear where the daith piercing is done isn’t where the specific points of the ear are that relax headaches in acupuncture.
Joan Huang, also an acupuncturist and RN, says for headaches she actually sticks needles in certain parts of the feet to help.
If the headache is on the right side, she sticks the left foot with needles. If it is on the left side, she will stick the right foot.
“In acupuncture, say you have a headache 10% of the time we can just put a needle where you hurt, or 90% of the time we can use distance location to help the problem,” says Joan.
She says distance location is helpful with patients because that way she can relieve the pain without touching or bothering the area that hurts.
She adds that younger patients with acute or recent problems are more likely to be cured with just one or a few treatments, depending on the problem.
More serious or chronic problems however, require more treatment.
Neither Huang rejected the claim the daith piercing relieves headaches.
Acupuncture itself hasn’t been fully decoded, although there have been studies on how it help patients.
One way is through releasing endorphins – which leave patients feeling light-headed and happy and can help with addiction, cravings and anxiety.
These claims can also relate to the daith piercing and how it might work, but another reason for why it could work is through a placebo effect…If you believe something to be true it becomes true.
There have yet to be any clinical studies done on the daith piercing, so whether the piercing works or not is inconclusive.
Right now, it’s solely the person’s choice whether to try it or not.