Medical Research

Acupuncture Reduces Number and Severity of Migraines in Migraineurs

Kristen Sparrow • October 30, 2012


Woman with Headache
Acupuncture Helps With Migraines

Super interesting study showing that “real” acupuncture in migraineurs, given weekly for 8 weeks, not only reduced the number of headache days and intensity, but also blunted the autonomic response to Valsalva challenge.  Placebo acupuncture did not. This validates my hunch that some of acupuncture’s effectiveness is due to the autonomic relaxation response.  I am not familiar with transcranial Doppler studies, which is how they measured the blood flow to the head. Nice.

J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Aug;18(8):777-83.
Cerebrovascular response in migraineurs during prophylactic treatment with acupuncture: a randomized controlled trial.
Wallasch TM, Weinschuetz T, Mueller B, Kropp P. Headache Center Berlin at Sankt Gertrauden Krankenhaus Berlin, Germany.
The study objective was to evaluate the effect of acupuncture on cerebrovascular response in migraineurs by transcranial Doppler ultrasound.
This study was a randomized, quasi double-blinded, placebo-controlled study.
SUBJECTS: Thirty-five (35) migraineurs were diagnosed according to the International Headache Society criteria. The stimulus paradigm was performed in 18 verum and 17 placebo acupuncture patients.
INTERVENTIONS:Participants were treated with acupuncture according to Traditional Chinese Medicine recommendations. All patients received one session of acupuncture each week for 8 weeks.
Pre-/post-acupuncture treatment comparisons between verum- and placebo- acupuncture groups demonstrated a significant decrease of days with migraine headache in the verum group (-52.5%; p<0.001), whereas placebo-acupuncture patients profited to a smaller extent and the duration of headache attack (hours/month) did not decrease significantly. Pretreatment recordings showed increased vasotonus and exaggerated cerebrovascular response in migraineurs. Pre-/post-treatment comparisons demonstrated no significant differences in vasotonus between groups, while cerebrovascular response patterns to Valsalva stimulus were significantly (p<0.001) diminished in verum-acupuncture patients, but not in the placebo group.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings indicate that prophylactic treatment of migraineurs by standardized acupuncture might positively influence the dysfunction of the cerebrovascular response to autonomic stimuli, but not the cerebral vasotonus during rest.