Throbbing pain. Nausea. Sensitivity to light. Auras. These symptoms are common manifestations of migraine headaches, and for an estimated 28 million Americans—three-fourths of them women—they are a regular and debilitating occurrence. Many migraine sufferers turn to over-the-counter or prescription painkillers and drugs such as Imitrex to quell symptoms, but new research suggests that acupuncture, an ancient healing therapy, may provide a safe and effective treatment option.
A review of 22 studies involving more than 4,400 participants clinically diagnosed with migraines showed that acupuncture reduced both symptom intensity and headache frequency. Compared to drugs or placebo treatments, acupuncture was consistently more effective. Benefits were noted in those who received regular treatments as well as those suffering from acute attacks. Another review study revealed that acupuncture is also helpful for relief from tension headaches. Forty-seven percent of the 2,317 study subjects who received acupuncture said their number of headaches was reduced by more than half.