ACUPUNCTURE AND MIGRAINES
According to the National Headache Foundation, as many as 28 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches each year. Migraine headaches are also one of the leading causes of time missed from work. It is estimated that migraine sufferers lose more than 157 million workdays each year, leading to a loss of approximately 50 billion dollars per year due to absenteeism and medical expenses caused by headache. An additional four billion dollars a year is spent on pain relievers for migraines and other headaches, but many of these remedies either do not work as needed, or simply mask an underlying condition.
In one of the largest studies of its kind to date, a team of investigators in Italy examined the effectiveness of acupuncture versus a variety of pharmacological therapies in treating migraines. Their results, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, revealed that patients given acupuncture experienced fewer migraine episodes, missed fewer days from work, and suffered no side effects compared to patients on conventional drug therapy. They also found acupuncture to be more cost-efficient, estimating a savings of hundreds of millions of dollars in private and social health expenditures if it were used to treat headaches alone instead of drugs.
A total of 120 subjects with a history of migraine headaches (without aura) were divided into two treatment groups of 60 patients each. The first group was treated with acupuncture (a maximum of three courses of 10 treatments twice a week, with a one-week break between each course).
The second group of patients received drug therapy consisting of two or three treatments using a variety of pharmaceutical products (flunarizine; nimodipine; dihydroergotamine; lisuride; sumatriptam; or amitriptiline). A subgroup of pharmaceutical patients received a drug called longastatine, along with electrical stimulation.
Statistical analysis of the groups found that acupuncture improved the symptoms of migraine without aura "more significantly" than any type of pharmacological therapy.
One of the most significant aspects of the study was that even though patients were asked to document any side-effects from treatment, none were reported by participants in the acupuncture group, leading to the conclusion that "the total absence of side-effects after acupuncture treatment can be affirmed."
Patients in the drug therapy group did not appear to fare as well. Of the 60 patients given pharmaceuticals, over three-quarters - 47 - reported side-effects ranging from nausea and diarrhoea to flatulence and burning sensations, unwanted weight gain of 3-4 kilograms; difficulty breathing, nausea, stuffiness in the chest, and occasional vomiting.
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
The basis of acupuncture is an energy force known as qi (roughly pronounced “chee”). A person’s health is influenced by the flow of this energy, or qi, in the body. If the flow of qi is insufficient, unbalanced or interrupted, illness may occur.
Qi travels throughout the body along pathways called “channels.” The acupuncture points are specific locations where the channels are accessible and where qi is easily directed by the placement of needles, moxibustion or acupressure. Acupuncture is used to balance the opposing forces of yin and yang, keep the normal flow of qi unblocked, and maintain or restore health to the body and mind.
While acupuncture may be most popular for its effectiveness in alleviating pain, it also helps treat allergies / asthma, fatigue and sleep disorders, arthritis, PMS, digestive disorders, addictions and much more.
There have been several proposed scientific explanations for acupuncture’s effects, primarily in regards to its effect on pain. Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord and brain. These chemicals either change the experience of pain or release other chemicals, such as hormones, that influence the body’s self-regulating systems. The biochemical changes may stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being.
Western science posits that there are three main mechanisms for acupuncture’s effects:
ALLEVIATING AND PREVENTING MIGRAINES
One way that a person can alleviate his or her migraines with acupuncture is to receive an acupuncture treatment at the time of the migraine. This will shorten the duration of the migraine and lessen the pain. However, a preventive approach is more effective. To do this, a series of eight to 10 acupuncture treatments, along with Chinese herbs is most effective. This, along with other lifestyle changes, should significantly improve a person's ability to ward off a migraine.
Acupressure tip: Press pointer fingers beneath cheekbones and parallel to pupils (Stomach 3) for one minute. Squeeze fleshy area between thumb and pointer finger (Large Intestine 4) for one minute for migraine headaches.
DOES ACUPUNCTURE COMPLEMENT OTHER NATURAL / MEDICAL THERAPIES?
Yes, at the Nature’s Intentions Naturopathic clinic, we complement our naturopathic acupuncture with other therapies, depending on the individual’s symptoms. For our naturopathic Smoking Cessation Program and Weight Loss Program, we combine acupuncture with hypnosis and relaxation sessions in order to treat you holistically – mind, body and spirit.
We often combine natural therapies for you so that you can obtain the best holistic care usually encompassing more than one natural therapy.
WILL ACUPUNCTURE HELP ME QUIT SMOKING?
YES! At the clinic, we have been extremely successful in helping patients quit smoking. Acupuncture can help ease the cravings and agitation associated with quitting smoking. We combine acupuncture with other therapies such as our Detoxification Program and Hypnosis to help you quit smoking, deal with your withdrawal symptoms and improve overall health.
A male in his 40's came to the clinic for help with quitting smoking naturally. This clinic has provided him with acupuncture, medication. He was able to quit smoking and felt that he could count on us for support. Overall he was quite pleased with the services.
WILL ACUPUNCTURE HELP ME LOSE WEIGHT?
Acupuncture will help reduce your appetite, decrease the desire to snack between meals. Acupuncture combined with hypnosis will help you improve the way you may deal with stress, especially if you started to gain weight after being quite stressed for a period of time and are unable to lose weight.
We also offer Cosmetic Acupuncture in conjunction with medical acupuncture for weight loss, which will help improve the overall texture and look of the face, and tighten sagging cheek and jowls.
The acupuncture sessions at the clinic will last an hour long. In addition to acupuncture, you will also be given a treatment plan that encompasses other natural therapies such as diet and nutritional counselling.
About three months ago, a patient in her early 30's came to the clinic for various health concerns, within months she could not believe how good she felt & how much weight she lost since she started natural treatments at the clinic!
Her body fat has gone down – 5% and she can now fit into pants that were always troublesome in just a couple of months. It wasn't her intention to lose weight but she now feels a lot better and a lot healthier. She doesn't feel tired and sleepy anymore after eating and no longer sneezes after dusting or visiting friends with cats.
The treatments have a made a significant improvement in her life and has now been convincing all of her family and friends to try natural healing.
ARE THE NEEDLES STERILIZED?
New disposable needles are used for each acupuncture treatment.
IS ACUPUNCTURE COVERED BY OHIP?
Most extended private health benefits provide coverage for naturopathy and acupuncture, but presently there is no OHIP coverage.