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Is Acupuncture Effective for Headache Relief?

Two reviews appearing in the January 2009 issue of The Cochrane Library confirmed that acupuncture therapy is an effective alternative for relieving migraines and tension headaches.

The Cochrane Library is a publication of the respected Cochrane Collaboration, an organization that evaluates the validity of research done on healthcare.

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine which has been used for over 2,000 years. The therapy involves inserting small needles into the skin to open energy channels and allow energy to flow freely throughout the body.

The first of the two reviews analyzed 11 studies evaluating the effectiveness of acupuncture compared to painkillers or "fake" therapy, which mimics real acupuncture but doesn't insert the needles at the correct points.

The reviewers found that acupuncture was at least as effective as painkillers and true acupuncture treatments were slightly more effective than fake therapies.

Two large studies in this review explored acupuncture as a compliment to pain killers and found that 47% of participants using the two together were able to cut their number of headache days in half, compared to just 16% of participants who took painkillers alone.

The second review, which included 22 studies with 4,419 total participants, found similar results with regards to migraine relief. Six studies in this review investigated using acupuncture and painkillers together and found that patients receiving acupuncture had fewer headaches.

\This large scale review seems to support that acupuncture can be an effective compliment to painkillers and may be a viable treatment option for people suffering from chronic headaches.

Beyond headache relief, the ancient therapy has also been shown to relieve sinus pressure, decrease post-operative pain, provide relief from menopausal symptoms and reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea.
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