Migraine headaches are a bit of mystery to the medical world. This ailment tends to be poorly understood and frequently undiagnosed and undertreated. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, this neurological disease affects nearly 39 million Americans. Migraines are characterized by severe, throbbing pain usually found on only one side of the head. Migraine headaches can also be accompanied by visual disturbances, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. These types of headaches can last from four hours to several days. Because modern medicine doesn’t completely understand this neurological phenomenon, the typical treatment is somewhat hit or miss.
There is an alternative though and this alternative is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which may include acupuncture, herbal formulas, tuina massage and cupping. Because TCM is customizable to the individual, it can do much more than just relieve pain. Here are five reasons why migraine sufferers should consider getting acupuncture:
1. Acupuncture has been proven to relieve migraine pain. This is the number one reason TCM practitioners have people walk through their office doors. Pain, whether associated with migraines or not, is epidemic in the United States. Literally thousands of studies have shown acupuncture treatments can effectively relieve and reduce pain. This can be done both for acute and chronic pain. When acupuncture is coupled with tuina massage or cupping, the results can be even longer lasting.
2. Acupuncture reduces inflammation. While migraines are not completely understood, it is agreed upon by most professionals any headache involves some sort of inflammatory response by the body. Acupuncture promotes the release of vascular and immune-mediating factors that actually decrease inflammation.
3. Acupuncture can reduce serotonin levels. Serotonin is a hormone the body creates and many researchers, scientists and neurologists believe serotonin may be linked to the initiation of migraines. Since acupuncture can be used as preventive medicine, it can also help to balance serotonin levels on a long term basis, thus making migraines less likely to develop.
4. Acupuncture can help with the symptoms of migraines. Acupuncture and herbal formulas can treat much more than just pain, including the symptoms of migraines. Studies have shown things like nausea, dizziness and vomiting can all be reduced through the use of regular treatments. Herbal formulas can be used in between acupuncture treatments to keep the symptoms under control.
5. Acupuncture improves blood circulation. Many times, when a person experiences pain, it is because of a lack of proper blood flow and decreased oxygen. This is as true for migraines as any other type of pain. Acupuncture can improve blood circulation, which also increases the amount of oxygen that reaches the tissues. Cupping on the muscles surrounding the head, neck and shoulders is another modality that can assist with this as well.
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.