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A recent study published in February of 2017 by the Journal of the American Medical Association,(JAMA), concluded that Acupuncture significantly reduced the frequency and duration of migraine headaches in those research subjects subjected to true acupuncture versus those receiving sham or false acupuncture. Those in the study received acupuncture for a total of 16 weeks, several times a week. This was a double-blind study with merit as it is significantly better than a randomized clinical trial. Good research studies on the efficacy of acupuncture in treating migraines as well as tension headaches are difficult to find because it is difficult to fake an acupuncture stimulus.

A placebo effect can happen initially in research studies but this usually fades quickly and those receiving true acupuncture will see lasting benefits as compared to the group that did not receive true acupuncture. 

My personal experience in treating chronic headache clients over the years is that sixteen weeks of treatment is not necessary to get headaches under control. I find that after an initial four weeks of treatments an occasional treatment of once or twice every four to six weeks is beneficial in maintaining headache relief. In cases of concussion headaches it can take a few weeks longer and an MRI must always be performed to rule out other causes of chronic headache. Chronic headaches should be evaluated by a medical professional first before seeking acupuncture.

By Nancy Vieira LAc, RN

Original article by:

Amy A. JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(4):516-517. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.9404Gelfand, MD1

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