According to a recently published paper that used data stored in the Cochrane Database and originating from 22 clinical research trials with 4,985 people that had migraine headaches, the use of Acupuncture reduces the frequency of episodes compared to both pharmacological therapy and sham Acupuncture.
Acupuncture studies are difficult because the “blinding” (participation of individuals that do not receive the actual treatment but ignore it) is not perfect as the use of needles alters the flow of energy in the body meridians.
In 15 trials where Acupuncture was compared with sham Acupuncture, the frequency of headaches was cut in half in 50% of the patients receiving true Acupuncture compared to 41% of the ones receiving sham Acupuncture. In 3 trials where Acupuncture was compared to drug treatments, the frequency of headaches was halved in 59% of patients treated with Acupuncture compared to 54% of people taking drugs. Moreover the people receiving Acupuncture reported fewer side effects and were less likely to drop out of the studies.
The benefit of Acupuncture may also be explained by the following factors:
- Expectations and beliefs of the patients.
- Knowledge and openness to new experiences.
- Patient-provider relationship.
Patients that have a higher commitment to a healthy lifestyle and engage themselves in all aspects of treatment, tend to have much better outcomes in complementary medicine.The literature suggests that combining pharmacotherapy and behavioral approaches is much more effective and longer lasting than either one alone.
The non-pharmacological treatment of chronic Migraine headaches includes patients’ education, identification of triggers, vitamins and herbal therapy, biofeedback, etc., which have a bonafide place in the holistic approach of practitioners. Acupuncture is useful in the treatment of chronic conditions but only well-trained, experienced and reputable practitioners should do it.
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