If you suffer from migraines you know how debilitating they can be and how much they can affect your life. Migraines can be incredibly difficult, especially when your medication does not always work. Acupuncture may offer you the relief you are looking for.
The American Migraine Foundation states (1) “Based on a recent systematic review of 22 clinical trials (2) involving 4985 people, there is evidence that acupuncture reduces the frequency of headache in individuals with migraine, and the effect may be similar to that observed with preventive medications. The frequency of headache dropped by 50% or more in up to 59% of individuals receiving acupuncture and this effect can persist for more than 6 months.”1
The review article Systematic Review: Acupuncture vs Standard Pharmacological Therapy for Migraine Prevention published in Headache The Journal of Head and Face Pain states that “There is growing evidence that acupuncture is just as effective and has fewer side effects than many of the standard pharmaceutical agents that are currently used.” (3)
Although more research is needed, studies have shown that acupuncture is effective at treating migraines. In fact, the World Health Organization has even recommended acupuncture for migraine pain.
We’ve seen many patients get relief from their migraines with acupuncture.
Below are some tips we often recommend to our patients suffering from migraines:
- Identify and avoid triggers – keeping a headache journal can be helpful for this.
- Stay hydrated and eat nutritious foods regularly.
- Manage your stress (also helped by acupuncture!). Stress can often trigger migraines.
- Be aware of your caffeine intake – While small amounts of caffeine sometimes help migraines, too much caffeine, or withdrawal from caffeine, can cause rebound headaches.
- Avoid foods that contain tyramine, which, for some people, can trigger migraines.
Our patients who have experienced the most relief have committed to a treatment plan. Ideally, we would like to see you for a series of 6-10 treatments, one to two times/week followed by maintenance treatments. It is important to stay ahead of the pain and inflammation. Many people have multiple factors contributing to their headaches. Over time, with acupuncture, we can help resolve many of these issues.
Even if medication is working for you, many people express the desire to decrease the amount of medication they are taking because of concerns of negative side effects. As with caffeine, many pharmaceuticals, as well as over the counter, Tylenol, can cause rebound headaches when taken on a regular basis.
CMAJ-JAMC published The Role of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Migraine states, “On the basis of the existing evidence, acupuncture should be an option for the first-line treatment of migraine to supplement other non-pharmacologic treatment options. It is at least as effective as prophylactic drug therapy, has longer lasting effects, is safe, seems to be cost-effective and reduces drug intake with possibly severe unwanted effects.” (4)
If you’re looking for relief from your migraines and want to decrease your intake of migraine medication, let us help. We will evaluate your individual pattern, make suggestions, offer you herbal therapy options, and provide acupuncture treatments designed for just you.
Written by Autumn Jensen, L.Ac., Dipl. O.M.