As quoted in last week’s Sunday Times Style (7/10/12), Kate Winstanley – acupuncturist at Lomax Chelsea – explains how acupuncture can help treat migraines. There has been much in the news recently on the nation’s overuse of painkillers for headaches. Research suggests that this overuse may actually be contributing to the onset of more headaches.
Can acupuncture help migraines?
Acupuncture has long been used for migraine pain relief and prevention. In fact, studies show that acupuncture is at least as effective as prophylactic painkillers without the side effects/contraindications. I see many patients for migraines who say that they don’t want to be reliant on painkillers and are looking for a solution without side effects and that can also help prevent future migraines. Acupuncture treatment usually provides my patients with effective pain relief and over a course of treatment they report a reduction in attacks.
Research shows that acupuncture helps migraines:
» Pain relief stimulates release of endorphins and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.
» Reduces inflammation by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.
» Acupuncture reduces the electrical waves in the brain associated with migraine and levels of hormones implicated in the pathophysiology of migraine.
» Migraine sufferers often know what their triggers are – stress, tiredness, chocolate, citrus fruit, caffeine, alcohol etc – but it is often difficult to avoid these things. The way acupuncture works is to strengthen imbalances in the body and thereby lessen the effects of these triggers.
» Very fine, painless needles are used to stimulate specific acupuncture points on the body which are known to relieve the pain of a migraine and start the healing process to prevent future episodes.
» After a few treatments sufferers generally report a significant reduction in the frequency and intensity of migraines. Patients then come back every 6 weeks or so as a preventative measure.