Acupuncture for Migraine

Some doctors are still non-believers of nontraditional therapeutic interventions as they strongly do not believe that they can actually play a positive role in pain relief for migraine yet there are many proven cases of people who have really experienced therapeutic benefits with acupuncture intervention.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing treatment that tries to restore the balance between the yang (male) forces and the yin (female) forces within the body.  The belief is that there will be an occurrence of illnesses if the life’s energy, qi or ch’i is out of balance.

There are altogether 12 meridians or energy channels running throughout the body and connecting the body’s major organs.  Along these meridians are around 800 acupuncture points which are accessed by the acupuncturist when attempting to restore the balance of the yang and yin forces by using extremely fine acupuncture needles which comes in varying lengths.  These fine needles will be inserted so quickly that sometimes there is no feeling of pain at all.  Usually the acupuncture needles will be left there for about 20 minutes or even longer.  In some cases, twirling of the needle by take place to stimulate the acupuncture points either through hand manipulation or using an electric stimulator.  Other alternatives to acupuncture needles are either acupressure, using a soft laser or using heat to attempt to access the acupuncture points.

In some cases, the acupuncture treatment may occur in the body region that is very different from the location of the pain.  Acupuncture treatment is often base on the assessment of the pulses and tongue at a particular session and may vary in other sessions.

Acupuncture can actually lead to the release of the body’s own pain “relievers” which are the endorphins and cephalins. These chemicals are like our very own personal morphine and opiate-like substances which are release by the body when pain is experienced. They are also released by long-distance runners during a race, to allow them to experience the euphoria of the marathon run.

Researchers still does not have a full understanding on how acupuncture works. However, there are scientific studies that have revealed that when patients were given a blocking chemical agent such as naloxone or natrexone, this chemical also seem to completely block the effects of acupuncture therapy. This means that the body’s own pain chemicals were either not released or the chemical receptors they are trying to act upon are saturated with the blocking medicines.

Chinese medical practitioners have been using acupuncture for many years to help in providing pain relief and pain blocking. In fact there are also some cases where acupuncture has even been used to block pain during surgical procedures.

Among those who have tried acupuncture, some reported experiencing pain relief from migraine, some found it ineffective while a very few reported that acupuncture may even temporarily aggravate their migraine.

Acupuncture may also have an impact on the gastrointestinal (stomach and intestine) system.   During the onset of an acute migraine, the bowel and stomach functions slow down and the stomach may even become nearly paralyzed. Acupuncture seems to be able to help overcome this “gastroparesis,” thus leading to a significant reduction of the nausea of the migraine headache.