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In the study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers randomly divided 401 adults aged 18 to 65 years old with chronic headache (at least 2 episodes per month) with a history of having mostly migraine headaches. The researchers found that after a year those who received Acupuncture experienced 22 fewer days with headaches, used 15% less medication, made 25% fewer visits to their doctor and took 15% fewer days off sick from work than the control group. In the same British journal was published that Acupuncture improves the quality of life for people with chronic headaches at a small monetary cost. Researchers say that the findings show that Acupuncture is a cost effective headache therapy. (Source: Vickers, A British Journal, volume 328)
The largest study done to date on Acupuncture and headaches was conducted in Charit University Medical Center in Berlin where they followed more than 15,000 adults who suffered from either tension headaches or migraines at least twice per month. The research shows that after 6 months, Acupuncture patients reported significantly greater reductions in headache pain than those who continued with usual care. According to Dr. Stefan Willich, the lead researcher, "the study shows that treating patients with headaches in routine primary care in Germany with additional acupuncture resulted in a clinically relevant and persistent benefit and therefore, Acupuncture should be considered a viable option for patients with headaches".
(Source: Cephalgia, volume 28 issue 9, pages 911-913)
One of the main stumbling blocks to greater acceptance for Acupuncture in the west is the lack of understanding of how it works. This began to change with the publication of a seminal report by researchers at the Harvard Medical Schools. The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate how acupuncture affects brain activity in subjects. They found that the needle manipulation in 2 different acupuncture points cause pronounced calming of activity in the deep structures of the brain, accompanied by increased signal intensity in a key sensory region of the brain (cortex).
According to Dr. Albrecht Molsberger, MD, "Acupuncture should be an option for the first line treatment of migraine to supplement other non-drug treatment options". Migraine headaches are not just a bad headache, they are a neurological disease that can be completely debilitating. Symptom can last between 4 to 72 hours and 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function during an attack.