Can Daith Piercings Really Help Relieve Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal response to stressful and dangerous situations, according to Everyday Health. Humans are wired to experience anxiety to keep themselves out of harm's way. However, anxiety can also become chronic and dysfunctional, leading to the development of anxiety disorders (per Mayo Clinic). Anxiety disorders can impact everyday life. In fact, they're the most common type of mental disorder and affect nearly one in three adults throughout their lives (per the American Psychiatric Association).

Luckily, there are several treatment options available to reduce anxiety symptoms, from meditation to medication, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Healthy lifestyle habits can also play a role in managing anxiety, such as exercising regularly and limiting caffeine intake.

Still, for those who experience severe and chronic anxiety, a permanent solution may be ideal. One unconventional option is to pierce the inner cartilage of the ear, known as the daith piercing (per Healthline), but does this alternative remedy really ease anxiety symptoms?

How daith piercings might affect the brain

The location of daith piercings on the small fold of cartilage inside the ear is said to be an acupressure point that connects to the vagus nerve in the brain (per Healthline). By stimulating the vagus nerve, research, including a 2018 study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, suggests that it's possible to lower anxiety and depression. Additionally, a 2013 research article published in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies shows that acupuncture may offer anxiety relief. In theory, daith piercings are like permanent acupuncture for the ear.

However, Medical News Today points out that no formal research has been done to prove whether or not daith piercings actually relieve anxiety. So far, a 2017 case study published in Frontiers in Neurology only shows a link between daith piercings and migraine relief. However, because both migraines and anxiety are thought to respond to vagus nerve stimulation, so there is a chance that daith piercings could help anxiety just as they appear to do so for head pain (per Medical News Today).

Still, some experts are skeptical. Dr. Emad Estemalik, a headache specialist, told Cleveland Clinic that daith piercings may only seem to work due to a short-term placebo effect. For some anxiety sufferers, these piercings could be a way to reduce anxiety without medication, but until more research is done, they may be best used alongside other doctor-approved anxiety treatments.