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Migraine Prevention and Acupuncture

            Research appearing in the journal Headache (2006; 46(10): 1492-502) tested the response migraine patients had to 12 weeks of treatment with acupuncture. Subjects of the study were 114 patients with a history of migraine headaches. For four weeks prior to the beginning of the study the subjects kept a diary and recorded information about their headaches. After the four weeks, the subjects were randomly divided into two groups. For twelve weeks, one group received drugs commonly prescribed to prevent migraines (metoprolol). The other group received between eight and 15 acupuncture treatments. Two of the subjects receiving the acupuncture dropped out of the study, while 18 of the subjects receiving the drug therapy dropped out of the study (some of those receiving the drug had side-effects, one patient actually got worse and quit using the drug).

            In the group receiving the acupuncture, 61% had 50% or fewer migraine attacks. In the group receiving the drug, 49% had 50% or fewer migraine attacks. During a follow-up 12 weeks after the study, 70% of the acupuncture patients assessed themselves as being “good” or “very good”, compared to 49% of the patients who received the drugs.

After 24 weeks, only 26% of the drug group reported doing “good” or “very good” compared to 56% of the acupuncture group. In this study, acupuncture compared favorably to drugs for the prevention of migraines.