Acupuncture can be more effective than medication in reducing the severity and frequency of chronic headaches, according to a new study conducted by Duke University Medical Center researchers.
“We combed through the literature and conducted the most comprehensive review of available data done to date,” says Tong Joo Gan, M.D., a Duke anesthesiologist who led the analysis. Researchers analyzed data from trials evaluating acupuncture for adults with chronic headaches.
“Acupuncture is becoming a favorable option for a variety of health conditions because people experience significantly fewer side effects and it can be less expensive than other options,” Gan says. “This analysis reinforces that acupuncture also is a successful source of relief from chronic headaches.”
While everyone experiences an occasional headache, more than 45 million Americans (one in six) suffer from chronic headaches, 20 million of whom are women. Medication remains the mainstay of treatment with varying levels of success.
Steps to relieve headache:
• Identify the cause of the headache. Hunger, dehydration, eye strain, stress, and tobacco smoke are common triggers.
• Remove yourself from the trigger.
• Take time to relax, which can speed recovery.
• Massage your temples, neck and face. Muscle tension can cause headache.
The Duke team looked at studies that compared traditional acupuncture to medication. Researchers analyzed more than 30 studies to arrive at the findings. The studies included nearly 4,000 patients who reported migraines, tension headaches and other forms of chronic headaches.
In 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.
“Acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years but only recently has started to become more accepted as an alternative or supplement to conventional therapies,” says Gan.
“One of the barriers to treatment with acupuncture is getting people to understand that while needles are used it is not a painful experience,” Gan says. “It is a method for releasing your body’s own natural painkillers.”
For information about Acupuncture & Massage College’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs call Joe Calareso, Admissions Director, at (305) 595-9500. Nov. 22.