Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial Finds Acupuncture Superior to Medication for Treatment of Migraines

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Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial Finds Acupuncture Superior to Medication for Treatment of Migraines

Published on 07-12-2011

"ChadD" is an acupuncturist and lives in Minneapolis and has authored 367 other posts.

Chinese Medicine (including acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and tuina medical massage, among other techniques) is commonly used to treat migraines and other forms of headaches in patients.  People often come in when western medicines are either undesireable or are not offering the type of resolution they would like to experience.  In clinical settings acupuncture appears to be quite helpful for the range of Chinese Medicine patterns that can result in the patient experiencing migraines.  To better analyze the clinical efficacy of acupuncture particularly, researchers from the Fangshan District Hospital of Chinese Medicine in Beijing recently conducted a study treating aura-absent migraines.

Researchers recruited 60 patients who were evenly randomized into a medication group and an acupuncture treatment group.  Acupuncture points that were used were GV 20, Taiyang, GB 8, GB 20, GB 13, LU 7 and ashi-points ("ouch" points ... where it hurts).  Acupuncture treatment was once daily, 6 days a week for 4 weeks with a 30 minute needle retention.  The medication group received 10mg nightly of Flunarizine (Sibelium) for 4 weeks.  Patients were analyzed using the SF-36 Quality of Life Instrument (SF-36) and integral scores of headache both before and after treatment.

Researchers found that there were positive increases in SF-36 scores within both the medication and the acupuncture treatment group with significantly higher increases within the acupuncture group in the physical functioning, role-physical, and bodily pain scores particularly.

They also found decreases in the integral scores of headache in both groups with substantial decreases in the acupuncture group compared to the medicine group.

Overall the total effective rates were 36.67% within the medication group and 63.33% within the acupuncture treatment group.  Researchers concluded that:


Acupuncture therapy can raise the migraineurs' life quality, lessen the times and severity of headache attack, and its therapeutic effect is superior to that of medication.


Further studies would need to be done to better analyze the optimal number of treatments required and frequency as well as points used, but this study expresses closely what I and my colleagues have seen in clinical practice.

This post has the following associations:

Issues/Symptoms: headache, migraines

Acupoints: ex taiyang, gb 8, gb 13, gb 20, gv 20, lu 7

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