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Acupuncture for headache/migraine

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

When traditional medicine hasn’t helped ease your migraine pain, many migraine patients are eager to explore alternative solutions. Acupuncture was developed in ancient China, and involves piercing specific areas of the body with a needle to alleviate pain. According to the Chinese practice, there are 14 meridians along the body, and if there is a disturbance of energy along these meridians, pain or illness can ensue. While there is plenty of research, acupuncture has mixed reviews in the migraine community. Here’s what people with migraine need to know about acupuncture.

Acupuncture is meant to keep the energy flow (called “qi”) balanced along the meridians. An acupuncturist will place needles at specific pressure points, usually along a person’s back or neck where they can slow pain transmission. Sometimes, a gentle head massage accompanies the placement of the needles. Treatment takes about an hour, and patients are advised to undergo at least six sessions, usually once a week. The acupuncturist may also suggest dietary changes. For example: Caffeine can exacerbate migraine, and some acupuncturists believe it disrupts the flow of the body. It’s not completely clear how acupuncture eases pain or decreases migraine. The overarching belief is that it activates pathways in the brain that are responsible for turning pain off.

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