Around 3 million people suffer from migraines each year. If you’re one of these people, you know just how painful and paralizing a migraine can be. Some experience one every once in a great while, while others suffer multiple times a week.
If you’re lucky, and pay enough attention, you can narrow down some of the things that trigger your migraines (for me, its aspartame). Once I cut aspartame out of my diet, I went from having a migraine every few days to having a migraine every few weeks. While that was an improvement and I was happy I could go longer periods of time living my life before it came to a screeching and painful halt, I continued looking for ways I could reduce the occurrences without medicine.
A friend of mine and a fellow migraine sufferer, Amanda Waddell (pictured above), went to her local piercing shop and got the “Daith Piercing.” It helped her migraines immediately and it looked super cool. I kept asking her every so often how it was doing and if she had had any migraines. Her answer was always, “no.” I decided to research the piercing and results of others but, after reading about how it was one of the most painful piercings you can get, I was too chicken to actually go to get it done.
The Daith piercing gets its name from the Hebrew word Daath (Daith), meaning intelligence or knowledge. The theory of how the piercing works is that the piercing/jewelry goes through an acupuncture pressure point in the innermost cartilage of the ear that relieves migraines and anxiety. The first Daith piercing was performed in 1992 by Erik Dakota. There has been some arguement by acupuncturists on weather the piercing placement is a true acupuncture location used in the treatment of migraines.
One day at work, I started feeling a migraine coming on and decided I was going to do it. I went straight to The Lure in Vienna after work where I met Emily Babbitt, the piercer. As soon as I learned she had been piercing for 10 years, I knew I was in good hands. I was super nervous because I’d never had a cartridge piercing before and had no clue what it was going to feel like.
Emily was amazing. She put me at ease by explaining everything to me step by step and warning me before she ever made a move. As I laid there on the table, still having the migraine sensations, she tells me, “Okay, you’re going to feel some pressure.” She was right. I heard the pop of the needle piercing through my skin and felt the pressure of the cartridge fighting back against it. She pulled the needle through as she pushed the earring in and absorbed the small amount of blood that oozed from the newly formed hole. There was no pain, just a warm sensation which Emily helped counteract with a cotton ball soaked in an amazing cooling solution (I wish I could’ve taken a bottle of that stuff home with me because it felt amazing).
As Emily and I were talking about how it wasn’t as bad as I had expected, I realized that my migraine was completely gone. I had read other testimonials about how other people would go have the piercing done while they had a migraine and would experience immediate relief, but I was kind of a skeptic until that moment. Emily mentioned, once word got out of this piercing, she went from doing 5 to 10 Daith Piercings a year to up to 20 to 30 a week. She walked me to the front desk where she explained all of the aftercare instructions and gave me a canister of sea salt spray to help clean and heal my new piercing. I can’t say enough about the professionalism and ease of my experience with Emily.
After the piercing (pictured above), I met my mom for dinner and then attended a concert – two things I could NEVER do if I still had that migraine!
The healing process was long and somewhat uncomfortable at times. The cleanings were the worst part for me. I moved my heart jewelry as I cleaned it to ensure I cleaned it thoroughly and didn’t miss anything, but moving the earring was pretty painful. Aside from the pain, I had some swelling. But that’s understandable considering I just had a needle shoved through my ear cartilage. Luckily, I never experienced any issues with infections or bumps during my healing process. It took the piercing a good four months before the discomfort subsided.
I have had my piercing for 8 months and can count the number of headaches I’ve had since then on one hand. The headaches I’ve had since my piercing have been a result of accidentally ingesting my trigger chemical (aspartame) or from high-stress situations. But, three migraines in eight months compared to once a week? I’ll take those statistics!
During my Daith Piercing experience, I joined a group on Facebook called, “Daith Piercing for the Migraine Sufferer,” where others with the piercing shared their healing, success, and failure stories. I wanted to get a good idea of just how many people have had success from this piercing, so I decided to do a little survey. Out of 126 people surveyed, 29 said their migraines are gone completely, 77 said the piercing helped their migraines considerably, but they’re not completely gone, and 20 people said they’ve experienced no relief at all.
With all of that said, I’m not a doctor, I can’t tell you that this is the cure to your migraine nightmares. Some doctors don’t agree with the piercing as a suitable form of treatment for migraines and I’m sure they have legitimate reasons for their objections, while others actually refer their patients to Emily to see if the piercing offers them relief. If you’re on the fence, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor and weigh your pros and cons over the decision. All I can tell you is that it has worked for me and it has worked for many other migraine sufferers. If you decide to get the piercing and it doesn’t end up working for you, at least you have a cool new ear piercing (thats what I told myself).
Brittany is a Parkersburg, W.Va. native who currently resides in Waterford, Ohio. She loves traveling, attending concerts, and is actually a competitive singer herself. Brittany also loves fishing, dirt track racing, and photography.
Photography by Brittany Fox