Chinese acupuncture and migraines

Despite millions of migraine sufferers in the UK there is no standard medical approach to this sometimes disabling illness. It is a complex disease with a range of individual symptoms from mild to severe which are usually treated by either prescription or over the counter medications. These medications can be taken to prevent a migraine attack or to alleviate the symptoms but they are not without side-effects (drug and therapeutics bulletin 1998). Your body can get used to the medication which may mean increasing the dose or increasing the frequency, both of which can lead to further headaches.


Chinese acupuncture looks at your body and illness differently. It will view migraines as a sign that your body is out of balance. Following a thorough consultation including current symptoms and past medical history, body, pulse and tongue diagnosis, your practitioner will develop a diagnosis and individual treatment plan to help the symptoms but to also work on the root cause of the problem. Treatment may consist of fine needles placed in the body (not necessarily near the head) and adjunctive treatments such as moxibustion, cupping, massage and auricular acupuncture.

Research shows that ways in which acupuncture can help the causes of migraine while also relieving the symptoms. These include:

  • Balances the body - strengthens and nourishes areas that need it
  • Relieves pain - acupuncture releases endorphins in the brain
  • Improves blood flow - in the body and in the brain
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Balances hormones - by affecting serotonin levels

The British Acupuncture Council provides more details on how acupuncture can help migraines and the research behind it -

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Therapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Eltham SE9 & Whitstable CT5
Written by Tracey Lehane, BSc (Hons) Lic Ac MBAcC
Eltham SE9 & Whitstable CT5

Tracey Lehane, BSc (Hons), Lic Ac, MBAcC, did her acupuncture training at the International College of Oriental Medicine where she studied Stems and Branches, Five Elements and TCM. She continues her development in classical acupuncture with Dr Edward Neal and the Xinglin Institute focusing on the use of acupuncture in complex medical issues.

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