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Study Finds Acupuncture Reduces Frequency of Migraines

By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac. MSOM

To understand the long term results of acupuncture treatments for migraine headaches, researchers organized a randomized, clinical trial. The results of this trial appeared in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal in 2017, under the title of "The long term effect of acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis."

The study included 249 patients, aged 18-65 years old, who complained of migraine headaches without aura. Aura is a medical term describing the unpleasant experience which may accompany a migraine or a seizure. It is a disturbing change in vision, smell or thoughts, which precedes the onset of the event.

Each participant received 4 weeks of acupuncture treatments coupled with 20 more weeks of follow-up visits. The patients were arbitrarily divided into three groups--the true acupuncture group, the sham acupuncture group and a control group. The control group patients received no treatment.

To track the effects of the treatments, patients monitored their symptoms daily and recorded them in a personal diary. Researchers tracked the frequency of headaches, how long they lasted, the severity of, and any additional medications ingested by the patients. At the end of the trial researchers concluded that the acupuncture treatments significantly reduced the frequency of migraines.

Source: Zhao L, Chen J, Li Y, Sun X, Chang X, Zheng H, Gong B, Huang Y, Yang M, Wu X, Li X, Liang F. The Long-term Effect of Acupuncture for Migraine Prophylaxis "A Randomized Clinical Trial". JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(4):508–515. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.9378

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About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.

Ask The Acupuncturist

Q: I've been getting headaches for quite sometime now usually in the front of my head they last all day. At one point it as very sharp headaches but recently they feel like pressure like something is compressing. I feel a good bit of tension along my eyebrows and temples. What could be the cause of this?

A: There are many factors that could be causing your headaches. It could be eye strain, allergies, hormonal changes or any number of other re... Read More