Acupuncture for Migraines: The Evidence is Clear

Updated: Jan 16

I specialize in working with migraine headaches, and therefore see a steady stream of migraine patients each week. From my experience and that of my patients, it is clear that acupuncture is an effective treatment for migraines. But what does the scientific literature say on the topic?


Let’s be clear, most acupuncture studies are poorly designed, and have too few study participants to be of any real value. Meta studies (also known as meta analysis), however, can be very useful. A meta study is where the researchers look at multiple (dozens to hundreds) of individual studies to draw conclusions. Meta studies are one of the best tools available to science to get a clear picture of what is really going on. Because the researchers in a meta study throw out the studies that are inherently flawed, and because you end up with a large number of study participants, the data tends to be much more reliable.


Recently the medical journal Sao Paulo Medical Journal Evidence for Health Care, published a fantastic meta analysis of the effectiveness of acupuncture in preventing migraines.


For the analysis, the authors reviewed twenty-two published research papers investigating the use of acupuncture in the prevention of recurrent migraines. All of the studies were randomized trials and followed the subjects after treatment. Altogether the research measured the outcome of over 4400 participants.


What conclusions were down from all these studies?


“Available studies suggest that acupuncture is at least as effective as, or possibly more effective than, prophylactic drug treatment, and has fewer adverse effects”


“…there is consistent evidence that acupuncture provides additional benefit to treatment of acute migraine attacks”


“…Acupuncture should be considered a treatment option for [willing] patients…”


It is really gratifying to see these types of studies, and to know that the results we see day in and day out here at GoodMedizen are indeed reflective of what other migraine patients experience when using acupuncture as a form of treatment.


Special thanks to Albert W. Stern of albertwstern.com for his excellent post on the subject.

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