Researchers have successfully documented not only that acupuncture is safe and effective for the relief of migraines, but also how acupuncture achieves positive outcomes.
As a past sufferer (yes past sufferer) of Migraines, I know all too well how debilitating and painful this condition can be when an attack happens. Even when the initial stage of the Migraine subsides, the aura and residual effects can last for days. While pain medication is a much needed part of the process, I also know that if you don’t administer the medication at the right time, the medication sometimes will have little, or no effect, once the migraine takes hold. Worse still, the withdrawal effects of these very strong pain medications can often then induce migraines and headaches, which then require further medication. It really can be a never-ending viscous cycle.
Migraines really do need a multimodality approach to them because the causes of them come from neck dysfunction(sublaxations), diet, blood sugars, hormones, stress and lifestyle. This is why an individual approach is always needed to properly assess, evaluate and treat migraines is needed. Too many people are just patching their condition, with a variety of treatments that really are only just getting them through to the next attack. What people need is a treatment that will not only treat the cause of their migraines, but also help prevent further migraines and give them long term relief and even cure. Acupuncture is just one component in that overall treatment and prevention, alongside medical interventions. So let’s look at how acupuncture can help.
How can Acupuncture Help?
Acupuncture has been shown to induce important biological responses to prevent and alleviate migraines. Imaging studies of the brain using fMRI technology confirm that acupuncture causes specific cortical responses to achieve lasting analgesic effects. In addition, blood level measurements document specific responses to acupuncture that play an important role in preventing and eliminating pain.
Researchers conclude that acupuncture is effective for the prevention and treatment of migraine headaches. A meta-analysis of controlled clinical and laboratory investigations are the basis for the conclusion. In analysis of recent clinical trials, they showed the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for migraines, with less migraine days and less pain intensity levels when acupuncture was administered. Furthermore, no severe adverse effects occurred. A follow-up of up to three months following acupuncture treatments maintained the same results and showed that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of migraines both on the short-term and long-term basis.
In some of the investigation, researchers conducting a clinically-controlled study using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) where they found a significant decrease in the functional connectivity of the right frontoparietal network of migraine patients. This connectivity dysfunctions was found to be reversible after four weeks of treatment using acupuncture. This is another curative effect of acupuncture that is quantifiable in repeated controlled experiments.
Acupuncture has been used for assistance with pain for centuries
For over 7 thousand years, people have used acupuncture in China for the treatment of various pain conditions, including migraines. It is useful, both as a supplementary treatment and as an alternative treatment, in situations where there is no response to drug therapy. Migraines are a headache disorder affecting a broad population that causes many burdens due to associated healthcare costs and people not being able to go to school and work.
Up to 25% of households in Australia and the United States have at least one member who suffers from migraines. The estimated total number of migraine patients in the United States alone exceeds 28 million and half of them have reduced work or school productivity. In Australia millions of people suffer from Migraines daily and it also affects their work, study and general day to day function, with some not even able to leave their homes due to this debilitating condition.
Acupuncture has an analgesic action
Scientists have uncovered some of the biochemical mechanisms responsible for acupuncture’s pain killing effects. Drugs used for the treatment of migraines not only have a analgesic action, but they also activate a reaction in the cerebral vessels. In the studies analyzed it was found that acupuncture has been found this very same analgesic action and also activated the same process in the cerebral vessels. The studies revealed acupuncture’s ability to regulate key regions of the brain affected by migraines. The areas are essentially the pain circuitry regions of the brain and cognitive components of pain processing. In addition, acupuncture also restores normal serum nitric oxide (NO) levels that have been found to be almost 55% higher in patients with migraines. Excess NO is a potent vasodilator contributing to headaches and acupuncture restores homeostasis. The regulatory effects of acupuncture can be quantified as early as the fifth acupuncture session and the effects are cumulative.
Based on these and other studies in the meta-analysis, the researchers conclude that acupuncture improves patients’ psychological profile, relieves pain, is safe and cost-effective, and has been found to be at least as effective as conventional preventative pharmacologic treatments for migraines.
At my clinic we know we see lots of people who are looking for relief from headaches and migraines. We use a multimodaility approach that also give an individualized treatment and also looks at the individuals cause of their migraines and headaches. Our aim is to assist in the with acute symptoms of migraines and headaches and assist in the prevention of them as well, along side medical interventions. With the right care, this can be done and now research is now backing up what we have known for many years.
If you need help with headaches and migraines, please call my friendly staff and find out how I may me able to assist you in your individual needs and ongoing health care.
-No Stone Left Unturned
-The Headache, Migraine and Pain Experts
- Wang Y, Xue CC, Helme R, Da Costa C, Zheng Z (2015) Acupuncture for Frequent Migraine: A Randomized, Patient/Assessor Blinded, Controlled Trial with One-Year Follow-Up. Evid based Complement Alternat Med 2015: 920353.
- Da Silva AN (2015) Acupuncture for migraine prevention. Headache 55: 470-473.
- Vijayalakshmi I, Sjankar N, Saxena A, Bhatia MS (2014) Coomparison of effectiveness of acupuncture therapy and conventional drug therapy on psychological profile of migraine patients. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 58: 69-76.
- Mayrink WC, Garcia JBS, Dos Santos AM, Nunes JKVRS, Mendonc¸a THN. Effectiveness of Acupuncture as AuxiliaryTreatment for Chronic Headache. J Acupunct Meridian Stud 2018 Oct;11(5):296e302.