Can Acupuncture Help Migraine Headaches?
In my practice I hear this question a lot, “Can Acupuncture help treat my migraine headaches?” I always preface my answer with the fact that all of us are different and acupuncture doesn’t help everyone. However, in my experience, acupuncture can help with migraines and headaches. Not only is that statement backed by 22 different clinical studies but I have personally seen my own clients find migraine relief by utilizing acupuncture treatments.
Studies and Organizations Supporting Acupuncture Treatment for Migraines
A recent and thorough review of 22 clinical trials that involved 4985 subjects shows there is sufficient evidence to support the claims that acupuncture relieves the symptoms of migraines. The studies also showed the treatments reduced the frequency of migraines up to 50%.
The American Migraine Association
“We agree with the conclusion that a course of Acupuncture of at least six treatment sessions can be a valuable treatment option for those individuals willing to undergo the procedure.”
The World Health Organization
WHO has endorsed acupuncture as a safe and effective alternative to traditional migraine treatments since 1979
How Does Acupuncture Help Treat Migraines?
Traditional Chinese medicine believes the body is made up of 14 meridians or energy channels. If the flow of blood and energy is imbalanced, health issues will soon follow. Your acupuncturist uses his/her needles to open up the flow of energy by inserting them into specific pressure points. These pressure points are usually located around nerves in the body.
More specifically, he/she will insert the acupuncture needles into your neck or back to slow down the pain transmissions to the brain and help relieve tension by increasing blood flow to the brain.
Will Acupuncture Replace My Existing Migraine Medication?
You should always consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment plan. Most acupuncturists recommend to continue with your traditional treatments and supplementing it with acupuncture.
The same study mentioned above shows that acupuncture treatments showed even more relief than that of traditional prescriptions. Regardless of whether it is more effective or simply on par with traditional medication you will not get the side effects with acupuncture. Some insurers will cover acupuncture for migraines so do check your policy.
Other ways to help with migraines:
- Regular exercise
- A healthy diet
- 8 hours of sleep
How Quickly Will I See Relief?
For some, the results are immediate while others don’t see the benefits at all. Everyone is different but most patients begin to see some relief after 2-3 treatments. The American Migraine Association recommends 6 treatments to gauge its effectiveness.
If your experiencing migraines and have struggled to find relief it may be time to give acupuncture a try!
Robert Ogarek is a nationally licensed, board certified Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist serving Wheat Ridge, Arvada, and the Denver Metro. Learn more.