Migraines are intense and debilitating. If you suffer from migraines you are not alone. It is the 3rd most prevalent illness in the world and 6th most disabling illness in the world (1). In Australia at least 4.9 milion people suffer from migraine and 7.6% of these experience chronic migraines (≥15 migraine days per month) (1), which normally last from 4- 72 hours but can, in severe cases, extend to weeks.
Of migraine sufferers 71% are women (2) and it is most common in the age group 18-45 years old (1).
A migraine may occur with other symptoms such as nausea, visual disturbance, vomiting, or dizziness (to name but a few). For women the cause may be linked to the changing oestrogen levels in her monthly cycle and there are higher tendencies for female migraine sufferers to also have severe period pain and endometriosis
The migraine is at it’s foundation is a disorder with the body’s neurological system. During a migraine attack the cranial nerves (nerves of the brain) release substances that cause local and peripheral responses including;
1) increased inflammation,
2) increased sensory to pain and;
3) Dilation of the brain’s blood vessels.
There are other possible lifestyle and environmental factors that can play a role in causing endometriosis and these can be discussed during a consultation with one of our practitioners.
This triplet is what causes the debilitating intensity of migraines.
Western medical therapies attempt to prevent, stop or slow these actions and common treatments include pain killers, triptans, botox, ice caps and CGRP inhibitors. These can be successful at dealing with a migraine or preventing it from occurring, however this is not guaranteed and, sometimes not without side effects (3,4,5)
What about other alternatives?
The first area to look at is to ensure your body has the right micro nutrients to limit inflammation and moderate neurological action. Sufficient levels of B vitamins and magnesium are important to maintain a healthy nervous system. (6) There is evidence that increasing Coq10 levels can also help (6) as this helps with improving cellular efficiency and activity. Lastly PEA, Vitamin D and certain herbs can also help improve the inner functions of the body – specifically the nervous system and lower inflammation (6,7,8)
At Ben&biao our clinical experience has shown us that effective supplementation to alleviate Migraine requires careful individual tailoring to ensure that optimal absorption of the supplements occurs. We take into account your specific, relevant health factors which play a role in which supplements will work best for you, not all cases will respond in the same ways. This is why we recommend you speak to a professional before purchasing off the shelf and possibly wasting your money. Our practitioners at the clinic can help in this regard
Acupuncture for migraines and headaches
Migraines are a neurological disorder and acupuncture is a neurological therapy.
Systematic studies have shown that acupuncture may alleviate or reduce the symptoms of migraine and that long term acupuncture may modify the neurological pathways that trigger the migraines. (9,10, 12).
How acupuncture works for migraines and headaches
When needling active acupoints in migraine patients, key neurological receptors in the brain are targeted and the effect is to reduce pain and lower inflammation. (13,14,15,16)
There are generally no side effects as acupuncture is used to target and correct the nerve expression. However, very occasionally acupuncture may not give the expected result.
How much acupuncture is needed?
A one-off acupuncture treatment may assist with an acute migraine but studies show that long term relief comes from a course of treatment. How much is dependent on the person, the cause and the length of time that the individual has been suffering migraines and if there are other areas of the body impacted by inflammation and pain.
At ben&biao our highly skilled clinicians have experience in treating migraines and tailor a treatment and treatment plan to the individual needs of the person.
Migraines during pregnancy?
Acupuncture has been shown to have great potential to treat expectant mothers suffering with migraines and who are wanting to avoid medications. A pilot study of 6 acupuncture sessions over 4 weeks significantly decreased intensity of migraines as well as other unwanted neurological events. (11)