Acupuncture effective for migraine

ACUPUNCTURE, whether real or sham, is as effective as pharmacotherapy for the prevention of migraine, German research suggests.

A study comparing sham and real acupuncture with standard drug therapy found no significant difference in the impact of treatment on the number of migraine days, according to data published in the

Lancet Neurology (online).

Patients were given 10 sessions of acupuncture over six weeks or continuous treatment with beta blockers, calcium channel blockers or anti-epileptic drugs.

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,” researchers wrote.

All treatments led to mean reductions of 1.5-2.3 migraine days from four weeks before treatment to 23-26 weeks after treatment. There was also no difference between the treatment groups in secondary outcomes, such as pain intensity and pain-related impairment.


The authors were surprised at the efficacy of sham acupuncture, which involved needling at non-acupuncture points, suggesting it might still exert biological effects similar to those achieved by needling at acupuncture points.

Another possible explanation of the mode of action of acupuncture is a powerful placebo effect,” they wrote.

Placebo treatment exerts powerful effects on pain modulating brain structures, as shown by PET and functional MRI studies.”

The results prompted the authors to suggest the efficacy of a treatment especially one with almost no adverse events or contraindications such as sham acupuncture was more important than knowledge of how it worked.

The decision whether acupuncture should be used in migraine prevention remains with the physician,” they wrote.

Lancet Neurology

2006; online.

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