Acupuncture for Headache and Migraine Relief

If you suffer from headaches and migraines, you can ease your pain without resorting to prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications that often have side effects. For thousands of years, acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicines have been used to relieve headaches and migraines, as well as their underlying causes. Researchers recently discovered that, compared to standard Western medical care, acupuncture can provide lasting relief from chronic headache pain. While these Eastern remedies are most often used to treat other types of chronic pain, researchers in a large-scale study found them to be extremely effective for migraines as well.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, included 401 adults from 18-65 years old with chronic headaches (at least two headaches a month). Participants were divided into two groups: those who received up to 12 acupuncture sessions during a three-month period in addition to standard medical care, and those who received only standard care. One year later, researchers found those who received acupuncture experienced 22 fewer days with headaches, used 15% less medication, made 25% fewer visits to their doctor, and took15% fewer sick days off from work.

In a related study published in the same journal, British researchers found that acupuncture improved the quality of life for chronic headache sufferers. They concluded that acupuncture is a relatively cost-effective headache therapy compared with other treatments. These encouraging results have prompted some health insurance companies to cover acupuncture services rendered for the treatment of chronic headaches and migraines.

Generally, to be most effective, acupuncture treatments are used in combination with Chinese herbs, tui-na massage, and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. The specific treatment recommended to treat your headache or migraine may depend on a number of factors. For example, headache pain can be in several places. Whether the pain is behind the eyes or temples, or the time of day the pain appears make a difference in diagnosis. Other factors that can influence the type of treatment you’ll receive include the effect of light in your eyes, and whether your headache is a dull pain, if it throbs with each heartbeat, or if it’s sharp and piercing. The answer to these questions will help your acupuncturist select just the right combination to treatments for your pain.

For more information on acupuncture for migraines, please call (619) 574-6909, or visit

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Written by Pacific College of Oriental Medicine

Explore Wellness in 2021