Acupuncture for Migraine - A Sham or Miracle?

Nancy Harris Bonk Health Guide
  • Acupuncture, a complementary therapy used in conjunction with traditional western medicine, can be part of a comprehensive Migraine treatment plan used by Migraine sufferers.

    Recent scientific studies have showed both "true" and "sham" acupuncture effective in treating certain conditions. These painful conditions include Migraine, tension-type headache (TTH), cancer pain, chronic pain and fibromyalgia. Let me explain...

    Acupuncture involves restoring normal function to a network of "meridians." This is done by regulating your "chi" or engery. The acupuncture points are all along these meridian points and tiny needles are inserted into these traditional points to relieve painful conditions. That is what's thought to be key in acupuncture -correct placement of the tiny metallic needles.

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    Researchers in Germany, (where acupunture is commonly used to treat Migraines and headaches) conducted two large studies using acupuncture for Migraines and "non-traditional" needle positioning for TTH. They found both acupuncture and the "sham" acupuncture was effective in reducing pain. The "sham" trial consisted of placing needles in non-traditional places or not inserting the needles all the way.

    Researchers found the selection of acupuncture points may be less important than acupuncturists first thought. Just placing the needles near the points seemed worthwhile. True acupuncture didn't seem to have any advantage over its "sham" counterpart for TTH and Migraines, but found that it was a viable option for relief from these conditions. The number of headache days experienced was reduced for the first three or four months, but its effectivenes didn't last more than six months. The study also concluded that acupuncture seemed to be a valuable tool for TTH - without the side effects of medications, but only worked slightly better for Migraines.

    More work needs to be done on complementary therapies in general. Migraineurs and people in chronic pain need any extra support and treatment options that are available.


    Acupuncture Relieves Tension and Migraine Headaches." January 21, 2009.

    Acupuncture 'works for headaches'." BBC News. January 21, 2009.

    What is Acupuncture and how does it work?"

    © Nancy Bonk, 2009.

Published On: January 22, 2009