Acupuncture shown to relieve migraines: study
Acupuncture, one of the most popular complementary treatments, works as well as standard drugs for migraines, German researchers said on Thursday.
They compared the effects of real and fake acupuncture with drug treatments for migraine and found all equally effective.
“The main finding is that Chinese acupuncture is as effective as drug treatment for the prophylaxis of migraine,” said Hans-Christoph Diener, a neurologist at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.
“Secondly, sham acupuncture is as effective as traditional Chinese acupuncture,” he told Reuters.
All of the more than 900 patients who had been randomly selected to receive Chinese acupuncture, sham acupuncture or drugs reported similar improvements and reductions in the number of migraine-free days.
“This tells us that Chinese acupuncture is not a very specific treatment,” said Diener.
Traditional Chinese acupuncture involves inserting fine needles at specific energy meridians of the body to reduce pain. In the so-called sham procedure the needles were put in places that were not traditional acupuncture points.
The ancient Chinese therapy has been shown to relieve nausea, stress, arthritis pain in the knee and pelvic pain during pregnancy.
“What we showed is that acupuncture is effective but we need more research to find out the biological effect behind it,” added Diener, who reported his findings in The Lancet Neurology journal.
Migraine affects about 15 percent of people in Britain alone. Symptoms can include intense throbbing on one side of the head, distorted vision, nausea or vomiting and raised sensitivity to light, sounds and smells.
An attack can last up to three days and prevent the sufferer from carrying out normal, everyday activities. Although anyone can get a migraine, it is most common between the ages of 20 and 50 and most sufferers are women.
Over-the-counter and prescription drugs can help to relieve the pain and reduce inflammation. Many patients also try other therapies such as acupressure, homeopathy, osteopathy and physiotherapy.
“The most important result is that all three treatments were effective and that improvement in the number of migraine days was closely similar in all treatment groups,” Diener said in the study.
“The decision whether acupuncture should be used in migraine prevention remains with the treating physician,” he added.
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