Modern scientific research is now showing that an ancient treatment can help people suffering from migraines. A study published in February, 2017 in the popular medical journal JAMA:Internal Medicine demonstrated that acupuncture is effective in treating migraines. You may be familiar with this study as it was featured on CNN. Another recent publication, a Cochrane research review from 2016, demonstrated that acupuncture is effective in the long term prevention and treatment of migraines.
This is promising and exciting because acupuncture is safe and does not have the harmful side effects as many of the conventional medications used to treat migraines. Acupuncture has been practiced successfully for thousands of years. Practitioners and patients know through experience how effective it is. It is great to see it now supported in the medical literature.
Migraines can be excruciating and debilitating and are not fully understood by the medical community. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, they are “an extremely incapacitating collection of neurological symptoms.” The headache consists of severe throbbing pain usually on one side of the head, but in some cases both sides. This can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness, visual disturbances, sensitivity to light, sound or touch, tingling in extremities or face.
Acupuncture works in different ways. During a treatment session, small needles are inserted into specific points throughout the body, depending on the individual’s needs. It is well documented that this needling facilitates changes in the brain thereby regulating neurological function. It has a calming effect on the body. It affects blood flow, releases connective tissue and muscle trigger point tension, and relieves pain.
The most important aspect of treating migraines, and any other conditions for that matter, is lifestyle management. Mindset, sleep cycle, diet, movement patterns, exercise, stress, relationships, environment are the true indicators of health and causes of sickness. These must be examined thoroughly and changed as necessary.
Passive treatments such as acupuncture, in which the practitioner performs a physical technique on the patient, as effective as they are, work by removing functional restrictions and increasing communication within the body. This allows the body to do what it is naturally designed to do – heal itself! We can think of it as letting nature flow freely within. But if we do not correct unhealthy patterns and lifestyles, we are not addressing the true causes of the problem and symptoms will often recur. By correcting lifestyle, patients will find the highest value in acupuncture and other effective passive treatments.