Acupuncture and Migraines

A recent study was just published comparing the effects of acupuncture to sham acupuncture in the treatment of migraines.

And, my oh my has the media made a conundrum of the information. Some articles are entitled “Acupuncture just as good as sham acupuncture for migraines” to “Power of acupuncture to ease migraines questioned in study” to “Acupuncture treats migraines effectively”.

How is anyone to make sense of all of the differing opinions?

Bottom line: does acupuncture help migraines or not?

The researchers at Chengdu University in China who conducted the study found the following results after 16 weeks of sham acupuncture vs real acupuncture:

* approximately 50% of the sham acupuncture group felt relief from their migraines

* approximately 75% of the real acupuncture group felt relief from their migraines

So, 25% more people got relief from real acupuncture in comparison to those receiving sham acupuncture. That’s quite significant to me, and if you are a migraine sufferer I would assume you agree.

Furthermore the study showed that acupuncture has a preventative effect on the occurrence of migraines. Meaning, getting acupuncture treatments help ward off oncoming migraines.

As Dr. Albrecht Molsberger wrote in an editorial that accompanied the study results, “acupuncture should be a first-line treatment of migraines along with other non-drug therapies such as biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy and lifestyle changes. All of this can be achieved even if acupuncture point selection is not as dogmatic and precise as proposed by the Chinese system.” Dr. Molsberger went on to explain that sham acupuncture — inserting acupuncture needles at random points–is not a true placebo as patients are still being “needled” and therefore it can affect their Qi and their bodies ability to heal. He also noted that upon meta-analyses review of acupuncture experiments it has been found that acupuncture is at least as effective as drug treatments, with fewer side effects.

The takehome for migraine sufferers: it is recommended that acupuncture be “an option for the first-line treatment of migraine to supplement other nonpharmacologic treatment options.”

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