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Acupuncture: A Reliable Option for Migraine Prevention And Treatment

When one considers all the stresses that come from living in a busy sprawling city like Houston, it is no wonder that many Houstonians suffer from migraines or are prone to migraines.

Here at ACU4U, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Clinic, we are preventing and treating migraines through acupuncture. Our impressive patients’ success stories and reviews are are backed up by these clinical trials that demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture as a prophylaxis, or preventative treatment, of migraine.

In 2017, JAMA internal medicine (IF=14) published an article on one RCT (Randomized clinical trial) to study the long efficiency of acupuncture for prophylaxis of migraine. The outcome is exciting: as the researcher noted, “True acupuncture was more efficacious for migraine prophylaxis than sham acupuncture or no acupuncture, and the improvement induced by acupuncture persists for at least 24 weeks.” [1]

In this 24-week study (4 weeks of treatment and 20 weeks of follow-up), 249 migraine patients were included after a straight screening process, based on the criteria of the International Headache Society. They were then assigned randomly into three groups: 1) true acupuncture (TA) group, 2) sham acupuncture (SA) group 3) waiting list (WL) control group. The trial took place in China, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and affiliated hospitals from October 2012 to September 2014. Patients in the TA group and the SA group received 20 sessions of electroacupuncture treatment (once per day for 5 consecutive days followed by a 2-day break), each lasting 30 minutes, for 4 weeks. Four acupoints were used per treatment, including two obligatory points and two other acupoints that were chosen based on the syndrome and meridian differentiation theory of traditional acupuncture.

Prior to the trial these participants experienced migraines without aura with an attack rate of 2 to 8 times per month. Each of the participants were instructed to keep a headache diary where time of migraine onset, duration, severity (evaluated by the visual analog scale [VAS] score) were accurately recorded. The difference of migraine frequency between three groups started to appear at week 16: the frequency of attacks decreased in the TA group by 3.2 per month, in the SA group by 2.1, and the WL group by 1.4. In addition, significant lowering of the migraine duration and VAS scores reflecting the pain scale of the migraine in TA group were also observed to be persistent throughout the follow-up phase from week 4 to 24. [1]

Random Clinical Trials (RCT) such as this that are rigorous and encompassing large groups, reveal the efficacy of preventing migraines with acupuncture.  Acupuncture has been drawing more and more attention for the past two decades. In 2005, results from an RCT in Germany involving 302 migraine patients showed a notable decrease in frequency of migraines after 12 acupuncture treatment sessions over 8 weeks.  In the acupuncture group, days of moderate to severe migraine attacks were reduced by 2.2 times the following month after the trial from a baseline of 5.2 times per month compared to only 0.8 times reduction from a baseline of 5.4 times per month in the non-acupuncture group. [2] In 2009, the same research group published their review of twenty-two trials with a total of 4419 participants to provide sufficient evidence that the prophylactic effect that acupuncture has on migraines is not only promising but also consistent. In addition, acupuncture has been proven to have a beneficial effect for treating acute migraine attacks. [3]

On the basis of existing research, acupuncture should be considered prior to other non-pharmacological options to supplement the treatment of migraines. Other rewards of acupuncture including a longer-lasting result and it is more cost-effective, [4] with no adverse effects. It can be as effective as drug treatments without side effects, time off work, and greater time between episodes.  

If you are suffering from chronic migraines and/or are prone to the onset of migraines, come visit our Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Clinic, ACU4U, near the Houston Medical Center. Our highly trained, licensed Acupuncture Practitioners will ensure you receive the most relaxing and effective treatment so you can enjoy your life again. We will personally work with you and help bring balance to your life and help you find relief in all aspects of the body.

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1. Liang F,  et al. The Long-term Effect of Acupuncture for Migraine Prophylaxis: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Internal Medicine, 177(4), 508-515.

2. Linde K, Streng A, Jurgens S, et al. Acupuncture for patients with migraine: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2005; 293: 2118-25.

3. Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, et al. Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2009;(1):CD001218.

4. Witt CM, Reinhold T, Jena S, et al. Cost-effectiveness of acupuncture treatment in patients with headache. Cephalalgia 2008; 28:334-45.