Approximately 4% of adults experience headaches nearly every day. Migraine and tension-type headaches are common headache disorders in clinic and result in significant reduction in social activities and work capacity of the suffers (Woolhouse, 2005).
According to the National Institute of Health, biomedicine holds numerous approaches to treating Chronic Migraine. These treatments include the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), analgesic medication, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and nerve block injection. While there have been research studies associating acupuncture to Chronic Migraine distinctively, there are extensive studies validating the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain, frequency, and duration of the Migraine attacks.
According to a case series demonstrating the treatment of Migraine headache in two middle-aged female patients with multilayer symptoms in the Journal of Chinese Medicine, duration and intensity of the Migraine headaches decreased in both patients within the first week of treatment and were resolved by the third month. The first patient reported Migraines occurring one to two times per week, lasting for up to ten hours, with a severe stabbing pain rated at eight to ten on a scale of one to ten, and nausea. One week after the initial treatment, the patient reported having no migraines during the previous week. This patient's second acupuncture treatment also included taking prescribed herbal formula, and reported no migraines by the end of the second week. The second patient reported Migraine episodes lasting three to four months during which the migraines occurred daily, normally beginning in the morning and lasting approximately four to five hours. This patient reported a significant decrease in Migraine symptoms
following her first treatment. By the second week, headache frequency had decreased by 50 percent, headache duration had decreased by 40 percent, and headache intensity had decreased by nearly 75 percent (Allen, Deng and Langland, 2016). This case series illustrated the successful treatment of Chronic Migraines that were unresolved following traditional interventions. Additionally, this case series supports the use of acupuncture and herbal supplement as an alternative for the treatment of Chronic Migraine.
As stated previously, the National Institute of Health suggests the practice of yoga as a biomedical approach to the treatment of Chronic Migraine. Yoga is a relaxation technique whose goal aims to produce the body's natural relaxation response, characterized by slower respiratory rate, lower blood pressure, and an increased feeling of well-being. Yoga has been studied to assess whether it might be of value in managing various health conditions. More specifically, Advanced Biomedical
Research conducted a case study on the effects of 12 week yoga training on headache frequency, severity, and duration of female migraine' episodes. 32 patients were divided into two groups; the control group received only medication for 12 weeks, and the yoga group was placed in a yoga training program that consisted of 3 sessions per week in additional to the same medical treatment. When comparing results from the yoga and control group after 12 weeks, the yoga group showed a greater reduction in headache severity, frequency, and headache impact on the patients' lives. However, changes in the control group were not significant (Boroujeni and Marandi, 2015). Although the reduction of duration of headache was not found to be significant in this research study, yoga was
beneficial on various migraine parameters, including frequency and intensity of the episodes. This research study depicted that yoga released tensions accumulated around the areas of pain, as well as loosen tight muscles, which can trigger headaches. Therefore, yoga can potentially assist migraine episodes.
-- Dr. Lana Moshkovich, DACM, L. Ac
Allen, J., Deng, Y., & Langland, J. (2016). Treatment of Chronic Refractory Migraine with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine: A Case Series. Journal of Chinese Medicine,110(February), 36-40.
Javanmard, S., Boroujeni, M., Marandi, S., Esfarjani, F., Sattar, M., & Shaygannejad, V. (2015). Yoga intervention on blood NO in female migraines. Advanced Biomedical Research Adv Biomed Res, 4(1), 1-7.
Alecrim-Andrade, Diener, Linde, Melchart, Streng, Woolhouse (2010). Acupuncture Analgesia in Clinical Practice. In Acupuncture therapy for neurological diseases a neurobiological view (pp. 169-171).Beijing, China: Springer.