Category Archives: Headaches

Acupuncture to Prevent Migraines

June is designated National Migraine Headache Awareness Month. In recognition of this today’s post is related to the topic of migraine headaches.

A group of researchers in China recently designed a study to investigate the long-term effects of true acupuncture on migraine headaches. A total of 249 subjects with ages from 18 to 65 years old and who had migraine headaches 2-8 times a month were included in the study.

The study lasted 24 weeks, and consisted of 4 weeks of treatment followed by 20 weeks of follow-up. Participants were randomized to a true acupuncture group, a fake acupuncture group, or a control group (wait list). Those in the true and fake acupuncture groups were treated 5 days a week for a total of 20 treatments, usually 30 minutes each visit.

The outcome measure of the study was the change in frequency of migraine headaches from the start of the study until 16 weeks. This was assessed by a migraine diary. A total of four acupuncture points were used for each treatment, two of which were fixed points that were used in each treatment session.

At the end of the study researchers found that in the true acupuncture group the frequency of migraines, number of days with migraines, and pain intensity of migraines was reduced to a greater degree than that in the fake acupuncture or control group.

Two important additional points-  although the acupuncture was only administered for four weeks the benefits last until the end of the study, which was 24 weeks, or 20 weeks after the last session of acupuncture. Also, the study consisted of 77% women, who suffer from migraines disproportionately.

It is estimated that over 37 million people in the U.S. suffer from migraine headaches. These are found most often in folks between the ages of 35 and 55, and are much more common in women than men. Based on the results of this well-designed study perhaps acupuncture should receive more consideration as a prevention strategy for these debilitating headaches.

(Source- JAMA Internal Medicine 2017; 177 (4))

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

Melatonin for Migraines?

MigraineMonth2016

In honor of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, today’s post will discuss recent research regarding the use of melatonin for migraine prevention.

A group of researchers from Brazil designed and completed a randomized placebo controlled study comparing melatonin, amitriptyline, and placebo for migraine prevention. A total of 196 participants were enrolled in the study, which included both men and women, ages 18-65. Patients were experiencing 2-8 migraine attacks per month. Subjects were evaluated by a trained headache specialist at the time of enrollment in the study, and then followed for 12 weeks. The main outcome measure was the number of migraine headache days per month. Secondary outcome measures included migraine intensity and duration.

Participants in the study kept a diary in which they recorded information about their headaches, which in turn was reviewed by the headache specialists at baseline, and at the end of 1, 2, and 3 months of treatment.

Results of the study showed that melatonin was as efficacious as the amitriptyline and superior to placebo, in decreasing the number of headaches per month (primary endpoint). Melatonin was superior to amitriptyline and placebo in headache responders, which were those participants with better than a 50% improvement in headache frequency. Melatonin also demonstrated less side effects than amitriptyline.

Given the results of this study, showing the efficacy of melatonin for preventing migraine headache with a favorable side effect profile, melatonin may be an option for those who find tradition therapies ineffective or suffer intolerable side effects.

(Source- Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 2016; 0:1-6)

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.