Headaches are a common problem that bring people into my Chicago acupuncture office. Several million people suffer from severe headaches/migraines and it is an increasingly popular reason to seek acupuncture treatment – with good reason.
Acupuncture is effective at treating all types of headaches, both acute and chronic. This includes tension headaches, sinus headaches, hormonal headaches and migraines.
Migraines are more common in younger people (those under 55), women, and individuals with a family history. The exact causes of these horrible headaches is not known but some common triggers include:
Lack of sleep
Caffeine withdrawal or overload
Alcohol, especially red wine
Foods that contain nitrates, such as hot dogs and lunch meats or foods that contain MSG which is often found in fast foods, as well as some seasonings.
On January 9th, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published the results of a new study that treated subjects with acupuncture. The study had 480 participants. The results showed that acupuncture significantly reduced the number of days people suffered migraines and may have lasting effects. This study used both traditional and “sham” acupuncture and found that both were effective but that only the traditional acupuncture group had lasting effects. To read more about this study click here
More Praise for Using Acupuncture to Treat Headaches
In 2008, Duke University sent out a press release stating, “Acupuncture is more effective than medication in reducing the severity and frequency of chronic headaches, according to a new analysis conducted by Duke University Medical Center researchers.” This statement came after researchers at Duke reviewed more than 30 studies (4000 patients). This is not unexpected. The National Institutes of Health has recommended acupuncture as a viable treatment for chronic headaches for over a decade.
*Personal note: In many of the studies referred to above, and in other studies that I’ve read, researchers use what they call “sham” acupuncture in a variety of forms. I am not the only acupuncturist who feels strongly that sham acupuncture is not the most effective way of evaluating acupuncture’s benefits. To learn more – read Stepping Stone Acupuncture’s great article on this topic ->The current problem with acupuncture research.