Acupuncture May Be Treatment For Headaches, Could Prevent

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Acupuncture and headaches treatment

Results of two large studies, performed by researchers from Cochrane, shows that acupuncture can be a source of treatment and prevention of both migraine and frequent tension headaches.

Prescription beta-blockers, often used for migraine headache treatment can cause fatigue and depression in some people. In addition, beta-blockers can lower blood pressure and lower the heart rate, making them dangerous for some people as a treatment for migraine headache.

The newest study comes from Klaus Linde, MD, from the Center for Complementary Medicine Research at Munich Technical University, Germany. According to Linde, "The data suggest that in about half of patients, acupuncture decreases the frequency of migraine or frequent tension-type headache by about 50%, which is quite similar to other effective treatments for these disorders."Compared with drug treatments, acupuncture has fewer side effects, although some patients are adverse to needle insertion."

The researchers found that even when needles were placed incorrectly, or did not penetrate the skin, known as sham acupuncture, the recipients experienced the same results, showing that acupuncture prevented migraine and tension headache.

The study is published January 21 in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. According to Andrew Vickers, MD, from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in New York, review author, "Putting a needle in the wrong place may still have some physiologic effect on the body."

The Cochrane review shows that acupuncture can relieve a migraine headache once it starts. Acupuncture also can also prevent migraines from recurring.


The study also revealed that acupuncture is second in line to treatment of back pain and arthritis among those who use acupuncture for pain treatment. A 2002 survey showed that ten percent of Americans used acupuncture to treat migraine headaches.

The study authors say the study reviews "suggest that migraine patients benefit from acupuncture, although the correct placement of needles seems to be less relevant than is usually thought by acupuncturists.

Treatment with analgesics should be sufficient for most headache treatment. Relaxation or biofeedback can also be helpful", says Dr. Linde. Acupuncture can help people who have more than two migraine attacks per month or more than 8 days of mild tension-type headache per month, surmise the researchers.

Treatment with acupuncture, involving 8 to 12 sessions that last twenty to thirty minutes were shown to provide headache relief that lasted up to six months.

We now know, after extensive study review that acupuncture treats and can prevent frequent migraine and tension headaches for up to six months after several sessions of acupuncture treatment offering an alternative to drugs.

Source: Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis.

Migraines, Tension-Type Headaches Respond to Acupuncture