The mysteries of Traditional Chinese Medicine run deep and are always interesting. Acupuncture is one of the hallmarks of this ancient style of natural medicine, and it has long been linked to pain relief. In another health breakthrough, researchers found some surprising and still positive results for acupuncture that might interest those who suffer migraine headaches.
There is real acupuncture, where practitioners place needles at specific points that correspond to the flow of “Qi” in your body. And there is “sham” acupuncture, which puts needles in spots that are not relevant to the problem at hand. The sham is used often in studies to see if real acupuncture works or not.
But the surprising element of this new study is that both real and sham acupuncture were equally effective in treating migraines! The study is published now in the “Canadian Medical Association Journal.”
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The study included 480 patients (aged 18 to 65) in nine hospitals in China. They were randomly assigned to four groups, including one receiving sham acupuncture group and three groups receiving different types of acupuncture. All had experienced migraines for more than one year, and had two to three attacks in the three months before the study.
Acupuncture is used for migraines, but evidence is mixed. Are its positive effects simply the placebo effect in action? Well, the researchers found that true acupuncture led to significantly better outcomes than sham acupuncture in weeks 13 to 16 — but the difference in effect was actually quite minor.
Up to three-quarters of people with migraines were better after acupuncture and sham acupuncture after four months. In other words, the fake kind worked as well as the real kind! While that is a bit strange, it remains quite positive overall. Getting acupuncture treatment if you have a migraine headache seems to be a good choice.
If you look at all the existing evidence, acupuncture should be a first-line option for migraine treatment. Migraines are of course the most debilitating kind of headache around and estimates have it that about eight percent of all adults suffer them. The best approach with Chinese medicine is to find a certified practitioner in your neighborhood and have an initial meeting with them. They should perform an overall diagnosis of you, complete with checking your pulse, your tongue, your skin and your dietary habits.