Can Acupuncture Reduce the Frequency of Headaches or Migraines?
By Acupuncturist, Maria Freer
Acupuncture has been used worldwide for migraine attacks and headaches. Acupuncture plays an important role in traditional Chinese medicine with history dating back thousands of years. It treats disease by inserting needles along specific pathways or meridians. Some theories may explain the mechanism of acupuncture in headache relief. Studies suggested that acupuncture could inhibit pain transmission to the central nervous system by stimulating different types of afferent fibers. Acupuncture was also found to be able to facilitate the release of some pain suppressors including endorphins, which are opiate chemical substances, within the central nervous system.
Many people don’t respond well to drugs prescribed to prevent headaches or migraines, so acupuncture is a good alternative. If you are someone who often gets headaches or migraines, you understand how seriously they can impact your quality of life. It can often be difficult to think beyond the pounding in your head! When a headache strikes, finding treatments that bring relief becomes a top priority.
Migraine is a prevalent neurovascular headache disorder, which is characterized by recurrent attacks of unilateral pulsating moderate-to-severe headaches. The headaches usually last 4–72 h and have concomitant symptoms such as light and sound sensitivity, nausea and vomiting. Causes of migraines range from hormonal imbalances, food sensitivities, lack of sleep, stress, emotions, exhaustion and so many others. That’s why it takes time to figure out what the trigger is. Population-based surveys have shown that migraine occurs in at least one in every seven adults worldwide, and affects women threefold more than men. In the Global Burden of Disease Survey 2010, migraine was ranked as the third most prevalent disorder and seventh highest specific cause of disability worldwide. Migraine seriously impacts the patient’s health and quality of life, and is often a source of great disability, with migraineurs’ normal activities limited up to 78% during migraine attacks. A systematic review of studies investigating migraine and cardiovascular disease found that the risk of ischemic stroke was doubled in people who had migraine with aura. * We need to recognize that acupuncture can be part of the solution to the immense problem of chronic pain and opiate addiction that is gripping our society. That this solution comes from an ancient practice with a theoretical foundation incompletely understood by modern science should make it even more interesting and worthy of our attention.
Some tips to take home
• Cold or warm packs may help relieve the pain
• Ginger, peppermint oil or rosemary are also a great addition
• Magnesium rich foods such as almonds, spinach and avocados