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Acupuncture is up to four times better at relieving migraines than medications, a new study suggests

Acupuncture is up to four times better at relieving migraines than medications, a new study suggests

  • Patients who get acupuncture suffer less migraines twice a month, research shows
  • Dr. Heather Angus-Leppan says it is “an acceptable, evidence-based treatment.”
  • Study used acupuncture along with ‘sham’ test and usual migraine treatments

Acupuncture is up to four times more effective than medications to relieve migraines, a study suggests.

Patients who received treatment had fewer than two seizures per month, it was found. In contrast, routine care, including pain medications and tips on sleep and exercise, reduced the average only slightly.

Those who went under the needle also had fewer seizures than those who received fake acupuncture, showing that it’s not “all in the mind,” scientists say.

At the end of the experiment, those with true acupuncture had 2.3 fewer migraine attacks per month, said Dr. Heather Angus-Leppan said the test was “good evidence” of the benefits of the treatment

The real thing was compared to the ‘sham’ version and ‘usual care’. Scientists gave 147 patients, with an average age of 37 years, one of three interventions.

By the end of the experiment, those with actual acupuncture had 2.3 fewer migraine attacks per month, compared to 0.4 and 1.6 for the usual care and sham groups, respectively.

Professor Wei Wang, whose findings from the study in China have been published in the BMJ, said, “These results support the use of manual acupuncture in patients who are reluctant to use drugs or when they are ineffective – and it would be in future guidelines should be considered. ‘

Dr Heather Angus-Leppan, a neurologist consultant at Royal Free Hospital in London, who was not involved in the study, said, “We now have good evidence that acupuncture is an effective treatment for episodic migraines.”

Since nearly nine in ten patients do not have effective preventative treatment, it is “a useful complementary tool in our therapeutic arsenal,” she added.

Dr. Angus-Leppan said, “It helps to change acupuncture from an unproven status in complementary medicine to an acceptable evidence-based treatment.”

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