Headache & Migraine

Acupuncture for Headaches and Migraines

It is estimated that approximately one-third of the world’s population suffers from chronic headaches or migraines. Despite many modern advances in the diagnosis and treatment of headaches and migraines, many people continue to suffer daily affecting their work and family lives. The significant impact this has on people’s lives have led many people, and many medical professionals, to seek out alternatives to pharmacological therapies such as acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.

Migraine Treatment: A Natural Alternative

The need for alternative treatments for migraines has sparked a great interest in acupuncture research to determine whether this therapy is indeed a solution to this widespread problem. In 2009, The Cochrane Collaboration, perhaps the most stringent and exacting scientific review group in the world, issued a report summarizing the results of 22 clinical trials that included 4419 participants. Their 108 page report came to the following conclusions:

  • There is consistent evidence that acupuncture provides additional benefit to the treatment of acute migraines or to the routine care of migraines.
  • Acupuncture is at least as effective as and possibly more effective than conventional drug treatment with fewer side effects.
  • Acupuncture should be considered as a treatment option.

Symptom Relief by Treating the Cause

The most significant difference in the treatment of headaches from the Traditional Oriental Medicine perspective is the importance placed on determining the underlying cause of the headaches. Whether a patient’s headaches are determined to be tension type headaches, sinus headaches, migraines, or cluster headaches tells us a great deal about the underlying problem that is allowing the headaches to manifest and the treatment necessary to resolve the problem. Rather than just trying to eliminate the pain as most modern medications are designed to do, Traditional Oriental Medicine seeks to eliminate the condition that is allowing the headaches to manifest as well as eliminate the pain and discomfort.

As with any condition, it is also important to review the patient’s medical history and also examine other factors that may be contributing to their headaches such as sleep problems, chronic pain, hormonal imbalances, and stress. With headaches and migraines in particular, it is important to receive treatment frequently in the beginning of your treatment regimen. The effects of acupuncture are believed to be cumulative so the more frequently you receive treatment in the beginning the better results you will achieve in the long run.