Published on 02-04-2020
People suffering with migraines may do just about anything to be rid of them. What about bloodletting?
While bloodletting sounds straight out of the middle ages, it is actually a fairly mild technique used within acupuncture for a range of conditions. Our theory site has a general introduction to bloodletting section for those wanting to look a bit deeper. While there are many uses and potential areas, it tends to be used on what are known as the Jing well points. Jing well points are located near the tips of the fingers and toes and are the beginning or ending of each meridian, usually next to the top of the nailbed. The technique uses a small lancet, such as those used by those with diabetes to check their blood sugar, and in most cases a small number of drops of blood are released. The technique is largely painless and uneventful, certainly compared to what people think might be involved.
A team of researchers from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine recently conducted a study comparing the effects of acupuncture treatment coupled with bloodletting versus the same acupuncture treatment without and the effect on migraines. They divided patients with migraines into two groups and used the following treatment points:
Each participant was given a treatment lasting 30 minutes daily for 5 days, a couple days off, and then 5 more days. Participants were evaluated throughout and after treatment using the visual analogue scale or "VAS". Both groups noticed improvement but within the bloodletting group there was a noticeable increase in reduction of symptoms. The researchers concluded that "bloodletting acupuncture at jing-well points along three-yang meridians of foot combined with routine acupuncture and simple routine acupuncture have analgesic effect, and the combined therapy is superior to simple routine acupuncture".
Now these types of generic treatment protocols will generally limit results because treatment is ideally tailored directly to each individual. That said, these points were a good choice for a study like this and "liver system" related headaches in TCM terms are arguably quite common. All things considered the study leaves room for thought as many practitioners, particularly in certain sub-systems of acupuncture, may not utilize bloodletting very often if at all.
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