Acupuncture has long been regarded as more pseudoscience or magic than proper scientific treatment. This more than 2,000-year-old method, however, has seen a continued interest in the scientific community. The interest correlates with acupunctures’ direct contributions to health and wellness. With dozens of researchers exploring the effects of acupuncture on migraines, it might be time to consider that acupuncture may have more benefits than its critics give it credit for.
Can Acupuncture Help With Migraines?
What does science say?
From clinical studies to meta-analyses, research has found promising results. When given acupuncture treatments, participants reported an improvement in their migraines and other similar pain conditions.
These reported effects and improvements were actually found to produce results close to other non-opioid pain relievers. With trained practitioners taking the helm during treatment, there is little risk and even fewer reports of adverse effects. Its benefits extend not just to pain relief, but to improved blood pressure and even brain function.
How does it work?
Traditional practitioners explain acupuncture as the insertion of needles at certain acupuncture points. These thin needles rest across specific meridians that divide our bodies. By inserting these needles in specific points, they are able to balance the individual’s qi and restore one’s health.
Researchers and medical practitioners believe that these needles stimulate the central nervous system. The fine needles activate the body’s natural healing responses and address the very specific regions targeted by the treatment. It may also stimulate the release of endorphins, a naturally occurring painkiller, to improve one’s sensations.
Interestingly, acupuncture works not just in pain relief, but to alleviate a number of conditions. Conditions range from musculoskeletal, mood, to even neurological and digestive problems. While the science has been promising, there are still a lot of questions research has yet to uncover with how acupuncture is able to achieve all these effects. Therefore, we recommend you consult your health care provider as well to supplement whatever treatment you might currently be getting.
What happens during treatment?
The acupuncturist typically inserts 10 needles into specific acupoints across the target area. Depending on the reported problem, there is little limit to where the needles can be placed. Needles stay in position in the body for 10 to 30 minutes while you rest. The acupuncturist can also apply heat or a mild electrical current to the needles.
The number of treatments recommended is anywhere from 6 to 12 times over the course of (on average) 3 months. Do you worry about the safety of this practice? It might also help you to know that the FDA regulates the sterility of acupuncture offices and their equipment as they would any other piece of medical equipment.
Should I get acupuncture for my migraine?
Our answer would be, why not? Where medications might prove ineffective, many individuals have reported a reduction of their pain after receiving acupuncture treatments. While we understand that this type of practice does elicit some skepticism, it cannot be denied that it has proven to be effective for many people. But most importantly, we have to remember that there is seldom ever only one solution to a problem.
If you’re experiencing neck pain, sometimes, it helps to have things work together to make it better. Acupuncture is a great alternative treatment. Additionally, unlike some other medical treatments, acupuncture seldom requires any special preparation before treatment so it is definitely worth considering.
To bring it back to the burning question we began with: Yes, acupuncture can, in fact, help with the treatment of migraines.
Additional Reading: Relieving Pain with Acupuncture
Southlake Natural Family Wellness
Our mission is to support the health and well-being of our patients by offering individualized, comprehensive holistic care including acupuncture, herbal recommendations, customized nutritional counseling, allergy elimination (NAET), whole food supplements, lifestyle suggestions, moxibustion, and cupping, as well as helping couples get pregnant and STAY pregnant by supporting all the paths to conception.
About Farrah Hamraie
Farrah Hamraie, L.Ac, MOM, Dipl.OM (NCCAOM), is licensed and board-certified in Acupuncture and Herbal medicine in the State of Texas with a Masters of Oriental Medicine from the Dallas College of Oriental Medicine. She is also a Diplomat of NCCAOM (the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), a Board Certified Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbalist, and a member of the American Association of Oriental Medicine.