Ancient Remedy for Headaches

For many people living with chronic tension headaches, relief can be found in the ancient Chinese healing modality of acupuncture, according to a new study published in the Journal of American Academy of Neurology.

Studies on acupuncture as a treatment for headaches had previously shown that acupuncture was effective for headaches in general (individual/episodic and chronic tension headaches were grouped) but did not make any distinction.

This new study, however, shows the efficacy for chronic tension headaches, specifically. Chronic refers to headaches that occur for more than 15 days per month.

According to Dr. Ying Li, principal investigator of the study and professor at Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, two months of acupuncture treatments can relieve headaches for at least eight months.

Along with his team, Li studied the effect of 20 sessions of acupuncture on 218 people with chronic tension headaches. On average, these participants had experienced headaches for 11 years and had 22 headaches per month.

For the study, these participants received either “true” or “superficial” acupuncture treatment – “true” involves placing the needles 12.5-20 millimeters deep in the body; “superficial” needle placement goes 2 millimeters deep.

The study revealed that 68% of people who received “true” acupuncture treatment and 50% of people who received “superficial” acupuncture treatment reported half the number of headaches per month (effects comparable with headache medication).

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