Migraine is a common neurological disorder that affects about 12 percent of the US population, with about 18% of women and 6% of men living with this diagnosis. Migraine is described as moderate to severe pain that can be throbbing, concentrated on one side of head, and which may include light and noise sensitivity or nausea or vomiting. Patients may use preventative medications to decrease the frequency and severity of their migraine attacks, and/or abortive medications to treat a migraine when it occurs. Some patients may have side effects from medications, and others may find that medications are not helpful.
When traditional medicine hasn’t helped ease your migraine pain, many migraine patients are eager to explore other methods of treatment. Complementary integrative treatments like acupuncture at Acupuncture Herbs and Beyond may be used as an alternative treatment.
Based on a recent systematic review of 22 clinical trials involving 4985 people, there is evidence that acupuncture reduces the frequency of headache in individuals with migraine, and that the effect may be similar to that observed with preventive medications. The frequency of headache is dropped by 50% or more in up to 59% of individuals receiving acupuncture and this effect can persist for more than 6 months.
How it works
Acupuncture is meant to keep the energy flow (called “qi”) balanced along the meridians. Our acupuncturist will place needles at specific pressure points, usually along a person’s back or neck where they can slow pain transmission. Sometimes, a gentle head massage accompanies the placement of the needles. The needle stimulates the nerves to release hormones, such as endorphins, that trigger a response from your body. This immune and circulation system stimulation is what relieves migraines and tension headaches.
Patients lie on a padded table, and soothing music plays in the background. Some patients say they feel an electrical sensation during a treatment, which is good – because that means healing energy is moving through the body. But most people end up falling asleep on the table.
Treatment takes about an hour, and patients are advised to undergo at least six sessions, usually once a week. We may also suggest dietary changes. For example: Caffeine can exacerbate migraine. In addition a herbal prescription from Dr. Weihui Li may also be given.
Overall, the American Migraine Foundation agrees with the conclusion that a course of Acupuncture of at least six treatment sessions can be a valuable treatment option for individuals.
“For me, regular acupuncture is an essential part of my migraine management. It helped me remit from chronic migraine and medication overuse many years ago and keeps me at infrequent episodic attacks today . When I first started treatments, it took a while to see any effect but patience and persistence paid off.” -Sharon