Acupuncture as Effective as Drug
Therapy for Migraines and Headache
By Rebecca Wilkowski, Pacific
June 6 marked the beginning of National Headache Awareness
Week, and according to the National Headache Foundation,
nearly 28 million Americans experience migraine headaches
In one of the largest studies of its kind to date, a team of
investigators in Italy examined the effectiveness of acupuncture
versus a variety of pharmacological therapies in treating migraines.
Their results, published in a 2001 issue of the Journal of Traditional
Chinese Medicine, revealed that patients given acupuncture experienced
fewer migraine episodes, missed fewer days from work, and suffered
no side effects compared to patients on conventional drug therapy.
They also found acupuncture to be more cost-efficient, estimating
a savings of hundreds of millions of dollars in private and social
health expenditures if it were used to treat headaches alone instead
of Western drugs.
Migraines can be caused by a variety of physical and environmental
factors including diet, stress, allergens, menstruation, and changes
in the weather. They can last from a few minutes to several days,
which in some cases may completely incapacitate the person suffering
Acupuncture has been cited by the World Health Organization to
treat over 43 conditions, including headaches and migraines, without
the side effects typically associated with Western drugs. According
to the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture &
Oriental Medicine, nearly one out of every 10 adults in the United
States has tried acupuncture.
Migraine headaches are also one of the leading causes of time
missed from work. It is estimated that migraine sufferers lose
more than 157 million workdays each year, leading to a loss of
approximately $50 billion per year due to absenteeism and medical
expenses. An additional four billion dollars a year is spent on
pain relievers for migraines and other headaches.