Migraine Relief From Acupuncture Overrated
Many migraine sufferers have turned to traditional Chinese acupuncture for relief from their chronic headaches, but the entire process may be little more than a “sham,” new research suggests. According to Reuters, a study from the Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine found that people who experience migraine relief as a result of acupuncture are most likely experiencing the effects of a placebo.
Study leader Dr. Ying Li noted that most acupuncture done to relieve migraines is not “true” acupuncture. That is, the needles are inserted only to a superficial depth in the skin and are placed on non-traditional points along the body. This leads scientists to believe that people feel better either because they expect to, or because of the personal care and attention of their acupuncturist.
To reach their conclusions, Li’s team observed 480 adults who had migraines at least twice a month. Each of the study participants was assigned into one of four groups; three of the groups received different types of traditional acupuncture, while the fourth groups received a “sham” version. They were treated to 20 acupuncture sessions over the next four weeks.
After a month of treatment, study participants in all four groups reported fewer headaches. Specifically, the entire group went from an average of six headache days per month to an average of three. While those receiving traditional acupuncture did show a slight advantage in the months after the study, Li said the result was “clinically minor.”