People often come to us to try acupuncture for migraine headaches and are sometimes curious about the research in support of acupuncture for this type of condition. Here we summarise 2 large systematic reviews that pooled together and analysed the available evidence in 2016 and then in 2020:
Acupuncture For The Prevention Of Episodic Migraine
This was a systematic review by Cochrane, who are a non-profit group that set the standard for reviewing current medical evidence and making recommendations based on those reviews. In their 2016 systematic review of acupuncture for migraine evidence, they found that the “available evidence suggests that adding acupuncture to symptomatic treatment of attacks reduces the frequency of headaches”.
When compared with no acupuncture, the research on average showed that migraine headache frequency reduced by at least half for 41%, compared with only 17% without treatment. In studies comparing acupuncture to standard prophylactic drug treatments, acupuncture for migraine headaches reduced frequency by half or more for 57% compared to 46% after 3 months, and after 6 months 59% of acupuncture recipients versus 54% for medication. The acupuncture groups also reported less side effects and were therefore more likely to continue with treatment than medication groups.
A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis Of The Therapeutic Effect Of Acupuncture On Migraine
In this more recent 2020 review of acupuncture for migraine evidence, acupuncture was shown to decrease headache intensity and frequency, and had fewer adverse reactions compared to placebo sham acupuncture. Compared with medication, acupuncture groups also experienced greater reductions in headache frequency and experienced fewer side effects. There were also observable beneficial blood flow changes in the brain as a result to acupuncture treatment, which provides a theoretical basis for how it works.
While it is always promising to see such positive research like this for acupuncture, we must always work with each individual and their unique presentation to make results like these a clinical reality. When we use acupuncture for migraines at Village Remedies, we will always take into account other factors such as stress, posture, movement, sleep quality, digestion, etc to make sure that we treat you as a whole person, not just as a headache.
If you would like to try acupuncture for migraines, or have any questions, please either contact us or book online to one of our Sydney acupuncture clinics in the CBD and Balmain.