If patients who suffer from depression and medication side effects can benefit from acupuncture, what about patients who live with chronic migraine conditions? In the last few years, two research studies have suggested that acupuncture can reduce the frequency of migraine episodes and provide other health benefits that can improve overall quality of life for some patients.
Understanding AcupunctureTraditional Chinese medicine has been practiced for thousands of years, and a major focus thereof has been on the holistic well-being created by the balance of energy blocks emitted by our vital organs. By inserting needles at certain points in the body, acupuncturists seek to improve organ functions.
Research studies conducted by conventional medicine practitioners have determined that acupuncture addresses certain neurological and brain chemistry issues. More specifically, these studies hint at the stimulation of neurons that transmit analgesic signals to our brains.
Although the names used by acupuncturists to refer to the needle insertion points may sound esoteric, they roughly correspond to neurological anatomy; for example, some of the heart meridian points include:
- Shao fu, the Lesser Palace
- Ling dao, the Spirit Path
- Ji quan, the Summit Spring
Some acupuncturists choose insertion points that can influence flow of blood to the cranium, which corresponds to a dated assumption of migraines as vascular conditions. Many patients report immediate headache relief when acupuncture treatments are administered during a headache episode, but there are some reports of positive longer-term effects as well.
Overcoming the Placebo Effect
In early 2012, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published a research study that compared a placebo treatment against reputable acupuncture therapy performed on chronic migraine patients. This study revealed that acupuncture was more likely to have longer-term therapeutic effects than immediate relief, and the dedication and professionalism of the acupuncturist played a major part in this success.
An earlier research study published by the British Medical Journal in 2004 also proved that acupuncture overcame the placebo effect in the treatment of 400 adults suffering from different headache conditions that included chronic migraines.
Although none of the studies mentioned above provided permanent relief from migraines, the rate of improvement in terms of quality of life was proven to be significant. In a three-month period of observation, patients who received acupuncture experienced a sharp reduction in the number of days they experienced headaches. Those who took medicine as a preventative or abortive treatment measure reported taking less pills while visiting their acupuncturists.