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Can Acupuncture help Migraine headaches?

By Amanda Hair for CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine).

If you have experienced a migraine, you will know that it’s not like just having a bad headache.  The world’s sixth most debilitating illness is best described as an incapacitating collection of neurological symptoms whereby the sufferer can experience  visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face.

can acupuncture help cure migraine image

Migraines seem disproportionately to affect women. Interestingly, boys are affected more than girls before puberty, but during adolescence it is women who experience more migraines, more than likely connected to shifting hormones.

With more research emerging that typical painkillers and migraine pharmaceuticals can actually aggravate the condition, some people choose to explore alternatives, such as Acupuncture.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) include in their headache guideline (updated 2015) that a course of up to 10 sessions of Acupuncture may be offered if western pharmacology ‘isn’t suitable’ or ‘doesn’t work well for a particular patient’.

An Acupuncturist will diagnose migraine headaches through a series of differentiating signs and symptoms. For example, the nature of the pain, the location of pain, the frequency, the duration, triggering or aggravating factors.   Once a diagnosis is reached, very fine Acupuncture needles are placed in Acupuncture points along channels which relate to the major organs within the body.  Acupuncture  needles may also be placed locally on the scalp or retained in the ear using seeds. The needles are retained for up to 25 minutes, during which time many people experience an extreme sense of relaxation.

Migraine Trust endorses Acupuncture as a viable alternative to western medication

In the UK, the Migraine Trust endorses Acupuncture as a viable alternative to western medication. In one study, patients suffering with chronic headache (80% with migraine) were given 12 sessions of Acupuncture over 3 months. This resulted in 34% fewer headache days, 15% less medication, 15% fewer days off work and 25% fewer GP visits after one year.

You can dramatically improve these results by looking at your migraines holistically, however. If you choose an Acupuncturist who has also been trained in Naturopathy, he or she will have an additional set of diagnostic lenses through which to see someone’s illness.  As well as tongue and pulse diagnosis, they will use Iridology, which diagnoses illness via the iris of the eye.

amanda hair natural therapy imageWe know that there are many triggers for migraines, such as certain foods, alcohol, stress, hormones, and weather.  A Naturopathic Acupuncturist will help you identify triggers and causes specific to you, so you can get to the root cause of your problem. This is a fundamental principle of Naturopathy, to help ensure problems do not recur.


Naturopathic Acupuncturists also understand how toxins overload the body and how these can be eliminated using a range of appropriate natural techniques such as Nutrition, Herbal Medicine and Homeopathic remedies.   They will tailor-make a naturopathic plan for you that not only includes Acupuncture, but supportive dietary and lifestyle advice, so that you can address all the issues that may be contributing to your migraines.

So if you suffer from debilitating migraines, Naturopathic Acupuncture may be an appropriate therapy for you to explore.

Amanda Hair lectures in Acupuncture at CNM (College of Naturopathic Medicine). CNM is the UK’s leading training provider in a range of natural therapies, with colleges across the UK and Ireland.  To find out more about CNM courses, visit www.naturopathy-uk.com




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