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Benefits of Acupuncture for Migraine Headaches

Updated: Feb 27, 2022

Find out why acupuncture should be considered as a treatment option for Migraine Headaches.

Migraine is a common type of complex brain network disorder that occurs when the brain loses control of its homeostasis, leading to the activation of the trigeminovascular system and a cascade of events. Migraine is classified into two main types: Migraine without aura (MO) and Migraine with aura (MA, which includes visual, sensory or other central nervous system symptoms). [1] It affects approximately 2% of the world population and three times as many women as men get migraines. Migraine can have a significant impact on quality of life and impose a substantial burden on society. Migraine suffers often miss workdays and experience complications, such as depression and anxiety, affected interpersonal dynamics, psychological health and well‐being, and financial stability, making Migraine even worse. Some treatments preventing migraine include medications, and there is also acupuncture ­a holistic approach to provide natural care and create a noticeable change.

Acupuncture for Migraine Headaches Evidence Base Acupuncture is one of the longest established forms of healthcare in the world. It aims to restore the flow of positive energy throughout your body, and its popularity has continued to grow in recent years. Acupuncturists are trained to use subtle diagnostic techniques that have been developed and refined for thousands of years. An Acupuncture Treatment involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body to affect the flow of your body's qi or vital energy. The focus of each Acupuncture session is on an individual patient, not on an illness. It can turn out that Acupuncture points needled in two patients with the same symptoms may be completely different. An increasing body of evidence­ based clinical research analyses how the body responds to acupuncture and its benefits for a wide range of common health conditions. [2] Everyone interested in supplementing or supporting migraine treatments with acupuncture should know that the evidence base for Acupuncture for Migraine Headaches has led to its inclusion in several national guidelines:

  • NICE in the UK includes acupuncture in its guidance for migraine prevention in adults. It recommends that up to ten sessions over five to eight weeks should be considered an adjunct or alternative to pharmacological therapy where topiramate and propranolol are ineffective. [3]

  • Guidelines by the German Migraine and Headache Society and the German Society of Neurology recommend that acupuncture can be used to prevent Migraine in patients who refuse or do not tolerate prevention with drugs. [4]

  • The 2019 consensus of the Brazilian Headache Society recommends Acupuncture (Class B) to treat chronic Migraine alongside other medication. [5]

Benefits of Acupuncture for Migraine Headaches

The available evidence suggests that Acupuncture for Migraine headaches can:

­ reduce the frequency of Migraine,

reduce pain levels,

reduce the number of days with Migraine. [6]

According to the Cochrane Review published in June 2018 (findings based on 22 trials, 4985 people), the positive effects of Acupuncture for Migraine Headaches can be sustained for some time after the end of treatment. The trials' findings proved that at least six Acupuncture Sessions could be a valuable option for patients who suffer from migraine attacks. At three months, headache frequency halved in 57 of 100 people receiving acupuncture, compared with 46 of 100 people getting usual care only. After six months, headache frequency halved in 59 of 100 people receiving acupuncture, compared with 54 of 100 people taking the drug. In addition, people receiving acupuncture reported side effects less often than people getting conventional treatment. [7] Conclusion Based on the evidence, Acupuncture for Migraine Headaches should be seriously considered by Migraine suffers as a treatment option. It appears that this safe, non­drug cure can have a long- lasting effect. If you live in North West London and seeking a treatment that can help to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches, get in touch with Nazan­ Your local Acupuncturist at Virtue Acupuncture, to see how he can help you. Your migraines do not have to strike out of random, impacting your life. Please note that headaches in some cases require immediate medical attention (i.e. when you experience vision loss), and treating them with acupuncture is not advisable. Trusted sources: [1] National Library of Medicine

[2] British Acupuncture Council

[3] National Institute of Clinical Excellence. Migraine. Clinical Knowledge Summary. 2019

[4] Diener HC, Holle­Lee D, Nagel S, et al. Treatment of migraine attacks and prevention of Migraine: Guidelines by the German Migraine and Headache Society and the German Society of Neurology. Clin Translational NeuroSci 2019;

[5] Kowacs F, Roesler CAP, Piovesan ÉJ, et al. Consensus of the Brazilian Headache Society on the treatment of Chronic Migraine. Arq Neuropsiquiatr 2019

[6] Xu J, Zhang FQ, Pei J, et al. Acupuncture for Migraine without aura: a systematic review and meta­analysis. J Integr Med 2018


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