Headache / Migraine and Acupuncture
According to the NICE (National Institute for Health and
Clinical Excellence) Clinical Guidelines issued September
2012, acupuncture is the only proven method to prevent
tension-type headaches and migraine. NICE recommend that
GPs refer patients suffering from these conditions for
Acupuncture can help in the treatment of migraine by:
Providing pain relief - by stimulating
nerves leading to release of endorphins and other
neurochumoral factors and changes the processing of pain
in the brain and spinal cord (Zhao 2008, Zijlstra 2003,
Reducing inflammation - by promoting
release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kim
2008, Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003).
Reducing the degree of cortical
spreading depression (an electrical wave in the brain
associated with migraine) and plasma levels of calcitonin
gene-related peptide and substance P (both implicated in
the pathophysiology of migraine) (Shi 2010).
Modulating extracranial and
intracranial blood flow (Park 2009). Affecting serotonin
(5-hydroxytriptamine) levels in the brain (Zhong 2007).
(Serotonin may be linked to the initiation of migraines;
5-HT agonists (triptans) are used against acute attacks.)