Acupuncture effective for headaches

Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of tension headaches, according to a Cochrane review.

Acupuncture was also effective for migraine prophylaxis — however sham acupuncture had the same effect.

The review found patients with frequent episodic or chronic tension headaches responded better to acupuncture than basic care for number of headache days and pain intensity. Of patients who received acupuncture, 47% reported at least a halving in the number of headache days. This compared with 16% of patients receiving basic care.


Migraine patients treated with acupuncture were found to have a higher response rate and fewer migraines after 3-4 months than those with no prophylactic treatment or with routine care only.

“True” acupuncture for tension headaches was found to have slightly better results than sham acupuncture, where the needles are placed at non-acupuncture points.

But for migraines there was no significant difference between the two types of acupuncture.

The authors suggested that sham acupuncture had direct physiological effects that acted on mechanisms relevant for migraine symptoms.

In other Cochrane reviews:

* Antenatal magnesium sulphate therapy given to women at risk of preterm birth substantially reduces the risk of cerebral palsy in their children. There is also a significant reduction in the rate of substantial gross motor dysfunction.

* All SSRIs were found to be highly effective in treating severe physical, functional and behavioural symptoms of severe premenstrual syndrome.

* Group therapy almost doubles the chances of quitting smoking compared with less intensive interventions such as self-help materials without face-to-face instruction and group support.

* Adding metformin to insulin therapy in adolescents with poorly controlled type 1 diabetes over three months lowers HbA1c levels compared with placebo plus insulin.

Cochrane Library

2009; Issue 1.

About Geoffrey He

Dr. Geoffrey He graduated in 1998 with Bachelor of Medicine majored acupuncture (Chinese medicine). He then worked as resident in Heilongjiang Province Hospital of China for five years. At the same time he furthered his education and acquired Bachelor of Medicine majored in Clinical Medicine (western medicine).He started his private practice in 2003 in Sydney and then moved to Adelaide in 2006 to pursue his special interest in pain management and fertility studies in combined Chinese medicine and traditional medicine.He has been practiced acupuncture and Chinese medicine for over twenty years treating general conditions with extensive experience in gynaecological disorders and infertility, stress related conditions and facial acupuncture, he is highly experienced in clinical medicine for pain management (Neurological Medicine), gynaecological disorders, fertility assistance (IVF) and cosmetic acupuncture. He is special interest in the area of Post Injury Management and General Practice in Chinese Medicine.Focusing on an intuitive level to suit each individual, Geoffrey's approach is rooted in the strong link between physical, mental and emotional health and the underlying cause of disharmony. Treatment is supported by additional lifestyle advice with an emphasis on empowering patients to achieve a healthy balance in their lives."I was trained in Western Conventional Medicine and Chinese Medicine with over 15 years clinical practicing experience including ten years in Australia, I combine the techniques of Modern Medicine and the art of healing from Chinese Medicine to help people get their natural and healthy life." - Dr Geoffrey x He