Last Updated: 2009-01-21 9:43:31 -0400 (Reuters Health)
By Amy Norton
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People who need relief from frequent migraines or tension headaches may find some help from acupuncture, two new research reviews suggest.
The reviews, published in the Cochrane Library, pulled together results from 32 clinical trials of using acupuncture to relieve migraine pain or chronic tension-type headaches.
In general, researchers found, migraine patients tended to fare better when acupuncture was added to their standard care, which usually consisted of medication to treat acute migraine attacks.
Overall, 47 percent of patients who had acupuncture added to their care said their number of headache days dropped by half. That compared with 16 percent of those who stayed with standard care alone.
And in four clinical trials that compared acupuncture with drugs used to prevent migraines, acupuncture patients tended to have fewer headaches and fewer side effects.
Similarly, the researchers found that acupuncture cut the frequency of tension headaches -- the common form of headache that, in some people, can cause debilitating pain.
Collectively, the findings show that acupuncture is "an option" for people with frequent migraines or tension headaches, lead researcher Dr. Klaus Linde, of the Technical University of Munich in Germany, told Reuters Health.
"The available findings suggest that the effects can be stable for up to 6 to 12 months," he noted, adding that there have not yet been any well-controlled studies looking beyond that time period.
Acupuncture has been used for more than 2,000 years in Chinese medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments. According to traditional medicine, specific acupuncture points on the skin are connected to internal pathways that conduct energy, or qi ("chee"), and stimulating these points with a fine needle promotes the healthy flow of qi.
Modern research has suggested that acupuncture may help ease pain by altering signals among nerve cells or affecting the release of various chemicals of the central nervous system.
In their review, Linde and his colleagues found that "true" acupuncture using traditional points on the skin was no more effective for migraine pain than "placebo" versions of the procedure -- using blunt needles that do not pierce the skin, for example, or needling non-acupuncture points on the skin.
"Skeptics," Linde said, might consider this to be a sign that acupuncture works only by placebo effect -- that is, patients think their pain is better because they've received the therapy. But, he added, the fact that acupuncture bested preventive drugs in some trials suggests otherwise.
"So it is effective," Linde said, "but other mechanisms besides correct location of needles seem to have a major role."
SOURCE: Cochrane Library, online January 21, 2009.
Kini Rawatan Akupunktur bukan lagi menjadi milek kaum China sahaja, malah akupunktur telah pun menjadi sebahagian dari amalan perubatan global. Di kalangan orang-orang melayu Perubatan Akupunktur ini banyak dipelupuri oleh Prof dr Nik Omar, Dr Mohd Nasir, Dr Faridah, Zaharah, Nik Fairuz, Nik Badrul, Alaniah Zain dan lain-lain.
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