When traditional medicine hasn’t helped ease chronic migraine pain, many people turn to acupuncture to treat this disabling condition. Based on a recent systematic review of 22 clinical trials involving 4985 people, there is evidence that acupuncture reduces the frequency of headaches in individuals with migraines, and that the effect may be similar to effects observed with preventive medications. In this study, the frequency of headaches was dropped by 50% or more in up to 59% of individuals receiving acupuncture, and this effect can persist for more than 6 months!

Our Doctor will place needles at specific pressure points, usually along with acupuncture points on your hands and feet, where the needles slow pain transmission and release natural pain-healing endorphins. Sometimes, a gentle head massage accompanies the placement of the needles. Treatment takes about an hour, and patients are advised to undergo at least ten sessions, usually twice a week. Our Doctor may also suggest dietary changes. For example, Caffeine can exacerbate migraines and can disrupt the flow of the body’s natural energy, or Chi. Once your migraine pain has been initially managed, it is recommended to continue less frequent treatment to maintain optimal health results.

On the basis of the existing evidence, acupuncture should be an option for the first-line treatment of migraine to supplement other non-pharmacologic treatment options. It is at least as effective as prophylactic drug therapy, has longer-lasting effects, is safe, seems to be cost-effective, and reduces drug intake with possibly severe unwanted effects.

Key points

  •  A sound body of evidence exists supporting the use of acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis.

  •  Acupuncture is at least as effective as prophylactic drug therapy for migraines and it is safe, long-lasting, and cost-effective.

  •  Although there seems to be little difference between the two, Chinese acupuncture points might be marginally more effective than non-Chinese points.