Acupuncture Proves Effective Treatment for Headaches

San Francisco, CA – National Headache Awareness Week is June 6 – 12. This annual event aims to gain recognition of headache pain as a real and legitimate condition, to encourage sufferers to seek help, and to let sufferers know that there are many treatment options available. With more than 45 million Americans, or roughly 1 out of every six people, suffering from headaches and migraines each year, patients are looking to new and holistic ways of preventing and coping with this often debilitating condition. With an impressive safety record and low incidence of side effects, acupuncture and Chinese medicine are proving a popular and effective choice for many.

Though acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have been used to relieve headaches and migraines, as well as treat their underlying causes, for thousands of years, the benefits of this ancient medicine are more recently gaining popularity in the United States.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine can offer powerful relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause, such as dizziness, nausea, or irregular heart rate. Traditional Chinese Medicine differs from conventional Western medicine in diagnosis and treatment of headaches by recognizing specific symptoms that are unique to each individual and using a variety of techniques such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork/massage, and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. During the acupuncture treatment, very fine needles may be placed along a person’s forehead, temples, shoulders, arms, legs, hands or feet.

According to a new analysis conducted by Duke University Medical Center researchers, acupuncture is more effective than medication in reducing the severity and frequency of chronic headaches. The Duke team looked at studies that compared traditional acupuncture to either medication or a control group who received sham acupuncture. Researchers analyzed more than 30 studies to arrive at the findings published in the December 2008 issue of Anesthesia and Analgesia. The studies included nearly 4,000 patients who reported migraines (17 studies), tension headaches (10 studies) and other forms of chronic headaches with multiple symptoms (four studies).

In 17 studies comparing acupuncture to medication, the researchers found that 62 percent of the acupuncture patients reported headache relief compared to only 45 percent of people taking medication. These acupuncture patients also reported better physical well-being compared to the medication group. In 14 studies that compared real acupuncture to sham therapy, 53 percent of acupuncture patients responded to treatment compared to 45 percent receiving sham therapy.

Acupuncture is effective for all types of headaches, including tension headaches, migraine headaches, cluster headaches, post-traumatic headaches and disease-related headaches due to sinus problems, high blood pressure or sleeping disorders. Acupuncture can reduce the number of headache days that a person has per year, as well as reduce the amount of medication they need and days off work. Unlike synthetic drugs, which can lead to patients experiencing a “rebound” headache, acupuncture is safe, gentle and has virtually no side effects.

For more information on how acupuncture can help headache sufferers, or to make an acupuncture appointment in the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) Community Clinic, please call (415) 282-9603.

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About American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine
American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) has provided affordable, quality health care to the public and trained professionals in acupuncture, massage and Chinese medicine since 1980. In addition to its graduate curriculum, ACTCM offers continuing education, public education, community outreach and clinical services in acupuncture and herbal medicine. ACTCM has been the recipient of many awards for its curriculum, faculty and clinic, and has been voted “Best of the Bay” by both the San Francisco Weekly and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. ACTCM is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and is a private, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.