If you suffer from migraines, you will know how disabling these headaches can be, especially if they happen frequently. Many sufferers find migraines very disruptive to work and free time — it’s not often convenient to take the evasive action they call for, like lying in a darkened room. However, Western pharmacological treatment often does not bring the results hoped for or causes side-effects. In addition, overuse of painkillers can actually worsen the severity and frequency of headaches (“medication overuse headaches”), and this has recently been recognized as a huge problem.
The good news is that acupuncture can be very effective in treating migraines. A 2009 Cochrane review (an overview of many studies, 22 in this case) found acupuncture to be effective in treating this type of headache. In fact, the studies in this review that compared acupuncture to drug therapy found acupuncture to have better results with fewer side effects. Interestingly, the studies also suggest that acupuncture that does not penetrate the skin (similar to many Japanese techniques in which the needles are inserted only a couple of millimeters), was just as effective as stronger forms of acupuncture.
This is great news for migraine sufferers. Traditional Chinese Medicine is deeply rooted in ancient philosophy, and while reports of the effectiveness of acupuncture date back 200 years, it’s comforting to note that modern research is confirming these clinical observations.