For many types of headaches acupuncture can provide relief of pain and reduce medications. In addition Chinese Medicine is effective at bringing the headache sufferer’s body back into balance by using acupuncture, herbs, diet and lifestyle changes. The majority of the time headaches are a symptom of imbalance in the body. Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and percocet just mask the symptoms whereas acupuncture can help treat the underlying cause so not only is the headache pain relieved, but other symptoms are also improved. Often people report sleeping better, less stress, clearer vision etc. The side effects of acupuncture are often a pleasant surprise!
I bring up the topic of acupuncture for headaches because a review study was just released that concluded “… acupuncture is superior to…medication therapy in improving headache intensity, frequency, and response rate.” In this paper they reviewed 31 acupuncture studies since 1996 that evaluated acupuncture’s efficacy for treating chronic headaches. They compared the acupuncture results to medication alone and concluded that acupuncture was superior to medication in relieving symptoms. They didn’t look into the other beneficial ‘side-effects’ I mentioned, but I’m sure they exist.
Clinically I find that acupuncture can be very effective for migraines, headaches along the sides of the head as well as the occipital area. Also with migraines nutrition and dietary changes can be most helpful because often a person is eating something their immune system has a hypersensitivity to, therefore removing the offending food(s) will often bring about relief.
If you know anyone that is a headache sufferer I urge you to suggest acupuncture to them as it can help change their outlook on life.
Licensed Dietitian / Nutritionist
Certified Chinese Herbalist
Cambridge, MA and Maynard, MA