Migraine headaches can be life-altering for those who suffer from them. From interrupting work to making simple everyday living difficult, migraines are often debilitating and there really isn’t a cure. All hope is not lost though. According to a recent study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, however, acupuncture may have lasting positive effects against migraines. Let’s take a closer look.
Types of headaches
There are two different types of headaches. Primary headaches include headaches that are characterized by migraines, cluster headaches and tension headaches. Secondary headaches are usually caused by a secondary medical condition such as a brain tumor, sinus infection or other medical cause. Generally speaking, acupuncture can be highly effective in managing pain from primary headaches like migraines. Acupuncture can also help with some secondary headaches depending on the cause.
How acupuncture treats headaches
It may be surprising to learn that TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) has been utilizing acupuncture as a treatment for thousands of years. One of the biggest plusses of treating migraines with acupuncture is that there are no negative side effects, unlike some migraine prescription and over the counter medications which can help with headache pain but may cause other uncomfortable side effects.
Through a variety of methods, acupuncture uses the insertion of needles with manual stimulation in specific parts of the body, which stimulates blood vessels and circulation and can be great for pain management.
Although studies show that acupuncture does help people who suffer from migraines, it is still unclear how the science works. It is thought that acupuncture releases the body’s natural painkillers or endorphins, which plays a part in the lessening of headache pain. Regardless of the science, a significant amount of evidence suggests that acupuncture can help migraine and tension headaches by:
- Providing pain relief.
- Reducing inflammation.
- Modulating blood flow to and from the head area.
- Affecting serotonin levels in the brain.
Prevention of migraines and tension headaches
According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in early 2017, acupuncture may also be helpful in reducing the frequency of migraines and preventing future attacks, so consultation and regular therapies with a certified acupuncturist can be added to a solid migraine prevention plan. Other things that may help prevent headache attacks include:
- Reducing stress and anxiety levels.
- Getting at least 7 hours of sleep nightly.
- Avoiding alchohol and especially red wine.
- Avoiding caffeine.
- Avoiding trigger foods like wheat, chocolate, dairy, and others.
- Avoid other known triggers like environmental changes (weather changes, etc.).
- Reducing tension in the shoulders, neck, and upper body.
In addition to acupuncture, herbal remedies or formulas may be prescribed based on individual needs or diagnoses. Your practitioner may also recommend additional nutritional and dietary changes as well as lifestyle adjustments.
To learn more about how Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture can help you manage your symptoms, call 832.282.3306 or contact us to schedule your appointment today.