Category Archives: Headaches & Migraine

Acupuncture for headaches and migraine, plus recent research.

Ear Acupuncture helps Acute Migraine Pain in Children

Acupuncture in the Emergency Department: ear acupuncture helps acute migraine pain in children.
Preliminary research from the USA suggests that auricular (ear) acupuncture delivered in the emergency department may be useful for the treatment of acute migraine pain in children. In a prospective cohort study, 19 children aged 8 to 18, presenting with acute migraine, were given a single auricular acupuncture treatment to a maximum of three acupoints located along two auricular migraine lines. Fifteen minutes after treatment, all subjects reported improvement or resolution of their migraine, with a clinically and statistically significant mean reduction in pain of 7 points on a 10 point pain scale. There were no known adverse effects.

(Auricular Acupuncture for the Treatment of Pediatric Migraines in the Emergency Department. Pediatric Emergency Care, 2 May 2016.)

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Acupuncture helps Tension Headaches

The international team of authors of a Cochrane systematic review have concluded that a course of at least six acupuncture treatments can be a valuable option for people with frequent tension headaches. They surveyed 12 trials which included 2349 patients. They drew attention to two large trials which found that acupuncture in addition to medication, resulted in 48% of patients’ headache frequency dropping by more than half; in contrast, just 17% of patients who took medication alone, experienced such an improvement.

When a comparison was made with sham acupuncture, headache frequency halved in 52% of patients receiving true acupuncture, compared with only 43% of patients receiving sham acupuncture. One high quality trial with about 400 participants, showed the benefits of true acupuncture were still present 6 months after treatment.

(Acupuncture for the prevention of tension-type headache. Cochrane Database Systematic Review, 19 April 2016.)

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Acupuncture for Cluster Headaches

Acupuncture research from Italy: Acupuncture for cluster headaches.
A small study by Italian researchers shows that acupuncture can be used to interrupt an episode of cluster headaches. Four patients were treated either with acupuncture alone, or acupuncture plus the drug verapamil. Acupuncture was given with diminishing frequency for a twelve week period, and according to traditional Chinese medicine principles. All patients experienced an interruption to their cluster headaches.

(Acupuncture in cluster headache: four cases and review of the literature. Neurology Science, 28 May 2014.)

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Persistent Beneficial Effects of Acupuncture for Migraine

Research from America: acupuncture for migraine.

A prospective study undertaken by researchers in Pennsylvania, USA, has shown that acupuncture has persistent beneficial effects on both the frequency and intensity of migraine attacks. A total of 59 migraine patients were asked to keep daily headache and quality of life diaries for three months. They were then given acupuncture twice a week for four weeks, followed by a further four weeks of treatment once per week, all whilst continuing with their diaries.

On comparing pre- and post-treatment data, migraine frequency and pain intensity were found to have decreased significantly after a course of acupuncture. Furthermore, at follow-up twelve weeks after the last acupuncture session, both frequency and intensity remained lower than they had been prior to the start of treatment. Acupuncture also had a significant impact on patients’ quality of life.

(Standardized set-point acupuncture for migraines. Altern Ther Health Med, Nov-Dec 2013.)

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Acupuncture superior to Migraine Drug & without Side-Effects

Acupuncture for migraine.

Researchers at the universities of Padova and La Sapienza in Italy, have shown acupuncture can outperform the drug valproic acid in reducing the pain intensity of migraines, but without any of the unpleasant side-effects which accompany use of the drug.

One hundred patients who had been migraine sufferers for in excess of a year, were randomly allocated to receive either twenty acupuncture sessions, or valproic acid at a dose of 600mg per day. Treatment was spread over a six month period, with an interim assessment made at three months. Patients were provided with 10 mg Rizatriptan wafers to treat the attacks if needed. Eighty-two patients completed the study, and both groups showed improvements. At the three month point, the drug group was experiencing a lower pain intensity compared with the acupuncture group. However at the six month point, the acupuncture group reported significantly better pain intensity, pain relief and Rizatriptan use compared to the drug group. Also, the rate of adverse events was 48% in the drug group but 0% in the acupuncture group.

(Acupuncture versus Valproic Acid in the Prophylaxis of Migraine without Aura: A Prospective Controlled Study. Minerva Anestesiologica June 2013)

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