Acupuncture for migraine and headache
What causes migraine?
Migraine is probably caused by the release of a chemical called serotonin or 5HT into the bloodstream from its storage sites in the body, resulting in changes in the neurotransmitters and blood vessels in the brain.
A migraine usually begins with an intense, gripping pain on one side of your head that may gradually spread. Migraines typically last from 4 hours to 72 hours, but the frequency with which they occur can vary from person to person. Although there are several kinds of migraines, the most common are classic migraine — which is a migraine with aura , and common migraine, which has no aura.If you're among the 10 percent of adults who have migraines with aura, you'll likely have warning signs about 20 minutes before the headache begins. These may include: Sparkling flashes of light, Dazzling zigzag lines in your field of vision Slowly spreading blind spots in your vision Weakness, numbness or tingling in your face, hand or leg Difficulty seeing or speaking
Although a migraine without aura has no classic warning signs, you may have one or more symptoms several hours before your headache actually strikes, including: feelings of elation or intense energy cravings for sweets thirst, drowsiness irritability or depression.
For most people there is not just one trigger but a combination of factors which individually can be tolerated but when several occur together or accumulate a threshold is passed and an attack is triggered.
Although twice as many women as men suffer from migraine because of the involvement of hormonal factors, migraineurs come from all walks of life, all areas of the world and ethnic groups, and all social classes.
Trigger management is important in preventing Migraine attacks.
Examples of triggers include changes in weather or air-pressure, bright sunlight, glare, fluorescent lights, chemical fumes, menstrual cycles, and certain foods such as processed meats, red wine, beer, dried fish, broad beans, fermented cheeses, aspartame and MSG; stress, anxiety, worry, emotion, excitement, depressions, may also exacerbate the condition.
Caffeine, which constricts blood vessels, is not a trigger, and, in fact, may help relieve mild Migraine pain caused by vasodilatation.
Migraine attacks vary in intensity from mild to excruciating among the population of sufferers and within individuals.
Mild or even moderate headaches may be satisfactorily alleviated or even aborted by simple, non-prescription analgesics, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, paracetamol.
Severe headaches seldom respond to such medications. Relief from these generally requires use of a triptan, ergotamine, or dihydroergotamine, or an opioid (narcotic).
All these medication can cause drowsiness or other severe side effects
SELF HELP FOR MIGRAINES
Feverfew Leaf is a good non-drug preventative treatment;good for relief from nausea and vomiting; improvement of digestion; more restful sleep; relief of dizziness, brain, and nerve pressure.
Vitamin B2 supplements is another preventative non-drug treatment you may want to consider taking. A study in Belgium found that people who took 400 milligrams of vitamin B2 daily had about one-third fewer migraines than did those taking a placebo.
Petasites hybridus (Butterbur root) is the latest non-drug preventive treatment to become available under the name of Petadolex™ from the German firmWeber & Weber. In recent double blind studies it was shown 77% effective as a Migraine prophylaxis. Dose is one 50mg capsule twice a day.
Acupuncture: recommended by the World Health Organisation for this condition, acupuncture can eliminate the pain and general malaise extremely quickly, and over a period of time, reduce migraines in frequency and intensity.
Homeopathy: good homeopathic prescribing can be suprisingly effective, homeopathy does not have any side effects, and is particularly safe for pregnant women.
Herbal medicine and aromatherapy: the use of western or Chinese herbs is proven to be effective, without the side effects of modern drugs; essential oils can play an important part in the treatment of migraines triggered by hormonal fluctuations in women.
Researchers in Denmark recently demonstrated that acupuncture offers significant benefits for migraine sufferers. The researchers monitored 85 patients with a history of migraine in a randomised, double-blind study in which acupuncture treatment (dry needling to acupoints in the neck) was compared to the drug metoprolol in the prevention of migraine attacks. All of the patients, investigators and statisticians were blinded as to treatment, and the therapist was blinded as to results.
The study took place at an outpatient pain clinic in the northern Copenhagen area and the patients who participated in the study were either referred by their general practitioners or had responded to newspaper advertisements. Certain patients were excluded from the study; those who were pregnant or had previous experience with acupuncture or beta-blocking agents, those with chronic pain syndromes, and those with known contraindications to treatment with beta blockers. The patients were then allocated to one of two groups: the first group were given a 17-week regimen with acupuncture and placebo tablets and the second group were given placebo acupuncture stimulation and 100 mg of metoprolol daily.
The results revealed that both groups exhibited significant reduction in frequency of migraine attacks and there was no difference found between the two groups of patients in the average frequency or duration of migraine attacks. However the severity of the attacks was found to be lower in the metoprolol group but this was also accompanied by a range of adverse side effects. The researchers therefore concluded that acupuncture offers " a valuable supplement to the list of migraine prophylactic tools" being equipotent to metoprolol in the influence on frequency and duration (but not severity) of attacks, and superior in terms of negative side-effects.
There is no doubt that this study provides additional weight to the argument that acupuncture should be more fully integrated into western medicine, at the very least as a complementary tool for pain control. However it should be noted that the study, like many others, attempts to define acupuncture treatment in western medical terms, with standardised treatment being administered to every patient in the treatment group without consideration to the specific needs of the individual patient or the more complex systems and meridians (flows of energy) upon which oriental medicine is based. It would be more helpful and certainly increase our understanding of the true benefits of acupuncture treatment if researchers would give thought to the oriental approach to medicine when devising research studies and allow qualified acupuncturists the opportunity to treat each indivdual according to their diagnoses. As in all other forms of holistic therapies, treatment cannot be standardised for every patient because the cause of the problem may differ in each individual case.
Pj Cousin is a full member of the British Acupuncture Council and of the Unified Register of herbal Practitioners
is one of the oldest and most mysterious form of health care, the first book on this subject is about 2500 years old, and there are indications that the Chinese were already using a crude form of TCM 4000 years ago.
Today, this medical system is widely used in China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea and all around Asia; in China alone there are 2500 hospitals specialising in TCM. This complex medical system is taught in 30 Chinese universities, to thousands of students from 120 different countries.
Acupuncture London: fertility clinics of acupuncture and complementary medicine at 95 Replingham Road london SW18 5LU