The results are in from an anonymous survey of 1,107 respondents who had a daith piercing for migraine. They were asked 3 simple questions:
How long have you had a daith ear piercing for?
How has your daith piercing affected your migraine frequency?
How has your daith piercing affected your migraine severity?
This is part 2 of a two part article on Daith piercings. To read the first article about Daith piercings, the background, expert commentary and more. Read the article here >>
I've included several charts and results below for those who want to see the raw data. If you just want the quick answer about whether daith piercing will actually help your migraine condition these are the topline results:
How did the daith piercing affect migraine frequency?
Just over half of all those who had a daith piercing (64%) experienced a reduction in migraine frequency. The remainder stayed the same or got worse. Below is a the breakdown of those who reduced their attacks:
- 15% reduced their attacks by approximately 10-50%.
- 7% of people reduced their attacks by half.
- 24% reduced their attacks by more than half.
- 18% of people experienced a full remission in migraine. i.e. it eliminated their migraine attacks.
The most common response was a reduction by over half in migraine frequency. This group represented 24% of all respondents.
Some people also worsened.
5% of people experienced an increase in migraine frequency since their daith piercing.
Whether this is due to the piercing itself, other factors or a combination was not explored in this survey. See the limitations section below.
How did your daith piercing affect migraine severity?
66% of the respondents reported less severe attacks (rounded to the nearest percent).
- 21% reported 'somewhat' of reduction in their migraine severity.
- 31% found their migraine severity had 'reduced greatly'.
- 14% say they no longer experience migraine attacks at all.
Interestingly 29% of people stayed the same with no change.
5% of people found that the pain and disability from migraine attacks had increased.
WARNING: Before you leave with the summary... be warned, these results can be misleading!
A big factor in the results is how long it had been since a respondent had their daith piercing.
How Long Have You Had The Piercing For?
Below is the how long each respondent had their piercing for:
The group which had only had the piercing for less than a month had a high number of people who had completely eliminated their attacks at 25%.
Going a month without migraine is a fantastic result for many people. But it's not the same as going without migraine for an entire year. This is what happened as time goes by:
- 21% had no further migraine attacks within 1-2 months
- 17% had no further migraine attacks within 2-3 months
- 13% had no further migraine attacks within 3-6 months
- 9% had no further migraine attacks within 6-12 months
- 16% had no further migraine attacks within 1-2 years
- 31%* had no further migraine attacks for those who had the piercing for 2 years or longer. *It should be noted however that the sample size is small in this bracket. There was only 12 person out of 39 (i.e. 31%) who experienced no attacks since they had the daith piercing at the 2 year or longer mark.
A similar trend emerges with the rest of the results. The more recent the piercing, the better the results tend to be. Below is the migraine frequency and severity at 2-6 months.
3-6 Months After The Daith Piercing
3-6 months after the daith piercing:
- 35% of people stay the same.
- 3-4% get worse in either migraine frequency and/or severity.
- Over half improve in both frequency (61%) and severity (62%).
During the 3-6 month period results are good with 61-62% experiencing improvement in both the frequency and severity of migraine.
6-12 Months After The Daith Piercing
At the 6-12 month mark... we start to see the a bit of honeymoon trend wearing off. Slightly fewer people sustain the initially positive results.
6-12 months after the daith piercing:
- The number of people who experience complete elimination of migraine frequency has dropped significantly from 13% in the first month to 9%, 6-12 months after the piercing.
- An interesting discrepancy has also arisen in the data (which was triple checked) that shows 7% of people experienced an increase in migraine severity compared with only 1% increase in frequency.
- This suggests that whilst people's frequency of attacks haven't dramatically increased, for 7% of people the severity has worsened.
- Slightly more people stay the same in terms of migraine frequency (40%) and severity (38%) at this point.
- Over half of respondents are still better off with 58% of reporting improvements in frequency and 55% reporting a reduction in severity.
What about longer term? What happens after 1 or 2 years?
One Year (or More) After The Daith Piercing
Results 1 year or more after the piercing:
In the final group it is interesting to note what happens to the results.
- 28% experience no change to their migraine frequency
- 24% experience no change to their migraine severity
- 7-9% get worse with either more frequent or severe attacks (or both).
- Still over half the respondents maintained their improvement with 64% reducing frequency and 67% reducing severity of attacks.
- Perhaps most surprising is that 18-20% have completely eliminated migraine i.e. are in full remission.
Limitations of this research
This research was conducted as an informal and anonymous poll. As such there are many limitations:
- There was no control over who was selected and who wasn't. It was open to anyone who wanted to help provide answers for others considering this treatment option. As such there could be a bias towards successful participants wanting to share with others versus those who didn't get results and had moved on.
- The number of daith piercings was not asked. We do not know whether people had one ear or two ears with a daith piercings.
- Adverse events, side effects, poorly inserted piercings, infections etc were not accounted for or recorded. These may have influenced the results of some people.
- How much change in migraine frequency or severity that is solely attributable to the daith piercing was not measured. Some people may claim to have experienced their results entirely from the daith piercing, others may have combined the piercing with other treatments and for others there may be a placebo effect.
A Migraine Clinic's Study of the Daith Piercing [Findings]
The largest study outside of our community has been run by the London Migraine Clinic under the research guidance of Dr Chris Blatchley.
They found that:
- Surprisingly, the effects of the daith piercing appear to be quite resilient and they did not find very sharp drop off's after a particular point in time.
- 60% of those who had a daith piercing over a year ago report no drop-off in effect.
- The daith piercing doesn't appear to work in around 15% of migraine patients although it is not clear how strong the self-selection bias is. This group could be underrepresented.
To take their more detailed daith piercing survey, visit https://migrainepiercing.co.uk/
Evaluating the true effectiveness of the daith piercing requires a well designed, double blind placebo controlled clinical trial. This does not attempt to be a comprehensive or conclusive report, but perhaps something helpful whilst we await the clinical trial.
Based on the data collected from 1,107 responses, it appears that the daith piercing shows good potential. This is especially so in the early months after the initial piercing and after one year. For this reason it could be considered a worthwhile tool to help break the cycle of chronic attacks.
In the long run people seem to consolidate into a positive or negative path. There were fewer people "in the middle" who didn't change. Most people either improved (64-67%) after one year or got worse (7-9%).
In an earlier edition with 380 respondents, after 1 year around 20-30% of people experienced improvements. The conclusion therefore was that a daith piercing can help break the cycle of frequent attacks but you may need something more to sustain your improvement over a longer period. Interestingly, with 1,107 responses this no longer appears to hold true. People appear to make good progress overall with the daith piercing.
Whether people use the daith piercing as a kick to improve other areas of their lifestyle that affects there migraine condition like sleep, diet, exercise etc. remains unknown.
There have been concerns raised about the potential for things to go wrong with a daith piercing.
Ear piercings require no medical qualifications from practitioners. There is a risk that the area of the piercing can get infected, damaged or the piercing can be made in the wrong position. Like other treatments, these are risks or potential side effects which need to be considered before making a decision.
Some people may also argue that there is a strong placebo effect which may explain the strong early results that you've probably seen on social media. This is certainly a very real possibility. However it is worth mentioning that, placebo or not, the results are there.
The results are very encouraging, but in reality it is hard to really know for sure because people generally prefer sharing good news rather than bad news. The self-selection bias is creates a problem for reliable data. A more robust clinical trial is needed.
Let me know what you think in the comments below. If you have any questions regarding the charts please ask in the comments to receive your answer.