Acupuncture for Migraines
Migraines are a debilitating condition that conventional medicine struggles to treat well. If you suffer with migraine pain, you know that it can often lead to missed work, days off in bed, nausea and vomiting and repeated trips to the ER due to your inability to control the pain even while you are taking the medications prescribed to prevent and treat migraines. Luckily acupuncture for migraines has proven to be the best first-line of defense for preventing and reducing the intensity of migraine headaches.
In fact, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, a well-respected scientific group that reviews medical research, concludes that acupuncture reduces the frequency of migraine headaches as well as or better than the usual conventional treatment and with little to no side-effects (1). This review of the scientific research found that the frequency of migraines was cut in half when treated with acupuncture.
The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, a well-respected scientific group that reviews medical research, concludes that acupuncture reduces the frequency of migraine headaches as well as or better than the usual conventional treatment and with little to no side-effects.
One study that compared acupuncture to topiramate, an anti-convulsant medication commonly used to treat migraines, acupuncture received twice a week for 12 weeks reduced moderate to severe migraines by more than 51% compared to 39% in those being treated with the anti-convulsant. On average patients had 10.4 less migraines per month when treated with acupuncture compared to 7.8 less migraines per month when treated with topiramate. Additionally, those that received acupuncture for migraines experienced less severe pain and reported a better quality of life all while experiencing far fewer side effects than those that treated their migraines with medication (2).
A recent meta-analysis published in the Journal of Neurology found that acupuncture worked better than propranolol, a beta-blocker commonly used to treat migraines, in reducing the number of migraines each month (3). Not surprisingly, acupuncture was also shown to have far fewer side effects.
In our clinic we find that acupuncture is a very effective way to treat migraines. The amount of acupuncture needed to keep migraines at bay will vary from person to person and even season to season, ranging from twice weekly treatments, to treatment once or twice a season. Our ability to utilize Chinese herbal medicine, when necessary, helps us achieve even greater and longer lasting results for our patients.
Acupuncture works by reducing pain, reducing stress and bringing the body back to homeostasis. No wonder it is an excellent treatment for migraines!
Migraines are thought to be caused by the central nervous system in response to the body’s inability to achieve homeostasis (4). Typical triggers of migraine headaches such as stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, blood sugar fluctuations, hormonal imbalances, chemical exposure, weather and even seasonal changes challenge our body’s ability to achieve homeostasis and therefore can lead to migraines when we are very stressed or our bodies are out of balance. Acupuncture works by reducing pain, reducing stress and bringing the body back to homeostasis. No wonder it is an excellent treatment for migraines!
Acupuncture is a holistic medicine so it always helps when you can do your part. Practicing daily stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation or mindfulness, getting plenty of sleep, drinking plenty of water and eating regular, healthy, no sugar/low or slow carbohydrate meals every day can help a lot (and they are free). Practicing these common-sense healthy suggestions along with acupuncture is the best way to get rid of your migraines.
- Linde, K., Allais, G., Brinkhaus, B., Fei, Y., Mehring, M., Vertosick, E. A., et al. (2016). Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine. (K. Linde, Ed.). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. http://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD001218.pub3
- Yang, C.-P., Chang, M.-H., Liu, P.-E., Li, T.-C., Hsieh, C.-L., Hwang, K.-L., & Chang, H.-H. (2011). Acupuncture versus topiramate in chronic migraine prophylaxis: a randomized clinical trial. Cephalalgia : an International Journal of Headache, 31(15), 1510–1521. https://doi.org/10.1177/0333102411420585
- Chen, YY., Li, J., Chen, M. et al. Acupuncture versus propranolol in migraine prophylaxis: an indirect treatment comparison meta-analysis. J Neurol (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00415-019-09510-x
- Zhao, L., Liu, J., Zhang, F., Dong, X., Peng, Y., Qin, W., et al. (2014). Effects of Long-Term Acupuncture Treatment on Resting-State Brain Activity in Migraine Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial on Active Acupoints and Inactive Acupoints. PLoS ONE, 9(6), e99538. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0099538.s002