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Acupuncture for Migraines + Headaches

Acupuncture for Migraines and Headaches

Migraines + Headaches


According to the NHS, around 10 million people aged 15-69 in the UK suffer from migraines.  Headaches are amongst the most common neurological reasons for attending A&E. Despite these figures, treatment options are limited and offer a way to reduce symptoms rather than a cure. Many people find pain killers to be ineffective and are understandably reluctant to take anti-depressants or try more invasive procedures such as Botox injections.


Headaches, encompassing tension headaches, cluster headaches, and migraines, can significantly impact an individual's well-being. Tension headaches, the most prevalent type, typically present as a constant ache, allowing sufferers to continue daily activities. Conversely, cluster headaches, though rare, are intensely painful, occurring in clusters for weeks or months and often localised around the eye..

With headaches and migraines being prevalent reasons for hospital visits, there's a pressing need for more effective and accessible treatment options to alleviate symptoms and improve overall quality of life.

Acupuncture Research for Migraines + Headaches

Acupuncture has garnered substantial attention as a treatment option for headaches and migraines, with a robust body of research supporting its efficacy. The NHS recognises acupuncture as a treatment option/ for these conditions due to its safety, minimal side effects, and gentle nature.

In a significant endorsement, the British Medical Journal published an article affirming acupuncture as an effective alternative to pharmaceutical interventions.

Researchers compared manual acupuncture with sham acupuncture or standard care, and the results were compelling. Those receiving manual acupuncture experienced a notable reduction in the frequency of migraine days and attacks compared to those in the sham acupuncture or usual care groups.

These findings underscore the value of acupuncture as a therapeutic approach for managing headaches and migraines, offering a promising avenue for those seeking relief from these debilitating conditions.

How does acupuncture for Migraines + Headaches work?

Acupuncture's mechanisms extend beyond symptom relief, encompassing intricate biochemical pathways that modulate pain perception and management.

One significant aspect is its ability to activate the body's endogenous opioids, natural pain-relieving compounds. Acupuncture prompts the release of these opioids, enhancing their effectiveness in dampening pain signals.

Moreover, acupuncture influences various other biochemicals involved in pain modulation. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and its breakdown product adenosine play critical roles in pain perception, with acupuncture promoting their release or regulation. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter known for its calming effects, is also influenced by acupuncture, contributing to pain relief.

Additionally, acupuncture affects substance P, a neuropeptide involved in transmitting pain signals. By modulating substance P levels, acupuncture helps regulate pain perception and transmission.

Overall, acupuncture's capacity to engage multiple biochemical pathways underscores its effectiveness in alleviating pain and promoting overall well-being.

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