Under the Hood

Study Finds Acupuncture As Effective Migraine Treatment

Researchers in China have found that some effects of acupuncture could help reduce migraine. It also appears more effective than usual care for headaches, such as lifestyle changes and self-management. 

The new study, published in the BMJ, suggests that doctors consider acupuncture as an option for migraine treatments. Researchers said the approach could help improve the quality of life of people with frequent headaches, especially those who do not respond well to drug therapy.

The findings come from the analysis of the health effects of acupuncture on 147 people, with an average age of 37, from seven hospitals in China. All participants reported a history of migraine without aura.

None of the patients received acupuncture before the study. Researchers also required them to avoid any painkillers or start other treatments during the tests. 

The participants were divided into groups based on the treatments provided by researchers. One group received 20 sessions of manual acupuncture at true acupuncture points, while the others were given either non-penetrating sham acupuncture or usual care like advice on lifestyle and self-management.

After 12 weeks, those who received manual acupuncture had "significantly higher reduction in the frequency of migraine days and migraine attacks" than the other two groups. Researchers also found that the approach did not cause severe adverse effects on participants.

"We now have good evidence that acupuncture is an effective treatment for episodic migraine," Heather Angus-Leppan, a consultant neurologist at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, said in a statement. "Acupuncture provides a useful additional tool in our therapeutic armoury."

The researchers hope the study would guide clinicians in providing patients with information about acupuncture when discussing prophylactic treatment strategies. Angus-Leppan added the findings may help "move acupuncture from having an unproven status in complementary medicine to an acceptable evidence based treatment."

Acupuncture may help reduce the burden for one billion people who experience migraine worldwide. Migraine ranks as the third most prevalent illness in the world, according to the Migraine Research Foundation

Researchers hope to see more studies conducted to further understand the effects of acupuncture and to see how long its effects would last.

Migraine Estimates show that 47 million people suffer from migraine in the U.S. Pixabay

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