There are many different types of migraines and just as many types of treatments ranging from over the counter medication, prescription pain relievers, or even Botox. Migraines affect approximately 18% of women and 5% of men in the United States. They can be debilitating and effect quality of life.

Unfortunately, many of the common treatment options were not designed with the intention of preventing the migraine attacks. This is where acupuncture can be an invaluable treatment option.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are thousands of years old. It systematically looks at the body as a whole. An acupuncturist considers every symptom and categorizing them into patterns. By utilizing thin needles, about the width of a cat whisker, and inserting them into the skin at specific acupuncture points an acupuncturist can increase blood flow, influence nerves, and calm the mind. Thus, balance the body and treat the root cause as opposed to just the symptom.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, migraines can be caused by a number of different types of patterns. Including: stagnation (where there is a blockage of the smooth flow of energy), deficiency (where the body is deficient in Qi, blood, or yin), excess (where excess yang energy rises to the head). Migraines can be caused by one or more of these patterns. It is up to your highly trained acupuncturist to determine what your best course of treatment should be.

Meta-analysis of Migraine Studies

A meta-analysis, published in 2009, looked at 22 trials with 4419 subjects addressing the effectiveness of acupuncture for migraine prevention. Six trials showed that after 3-4 months, acupuncture was superior to basic acute care. Fourteen trials compared “true” to “sham” acupuncture. The pooled analysis failed to demonstrate a statistically significant superiority of true acupuncture, but both groups showed fewer headaches than before treatment. Four trials compared acupuncture to a proven migraine preventive medication. The group using the prophylactic drugs were shown to have more adverse effects than the acupuncture group.

For those that are looking for a natural, long-lasting, cost-effective alternative to long-term use of medications or neurotoxins (Botox) consider trying acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine for the treatment of migraines.

Reference: Da Silva, A. N. (2015), Acupuncture for Migraine Prevention. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 55: 470–473. doi: 10.1111/head.12525

Author's Bio: 

Teri Calandra is a Licensed Acupuncturist by the state of Illinois and is board certified through the NCCAOM. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, and herbology. She offers acupuncture and other alternative treatments at Calandra Center for Health and Wellness in Chicago, IL.
Teri Calandra is also a published author, and writes regularly for her blog