Ask anyone who’s ever had acupuncture for pain and their report will most likely be enthusiastic. In fact, a 2012 "meta-analysis" of scientific studies demonstrated that acupuncture is very effective for pain relief (see the NYTimes' Acupuncture Provides True Pain Relief in Study).Read More
Taking the hormone melatonin 30 minutes before bedtime can help prevent migraines. That’s because headaches may be related to disturbances in our biorhythms, and melatonin can help regulate our sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin taken nightly for 1-3 months reduces the frequency, intensity and duration of migraines that may occur, but melatonin cannot treat migraines that have already started. In Chinese medicine a propensity for migraines usually signals a pattern of excess and deficiency where the Qi (“chee”) or energy of the body is hyperactive and shoots upward instead of flowing smoothly. Our treatment focuses on subduing the Qi, and tonifying and regulating the blood in the channels that flow to the head. Acupuncture also relaxes muscle tension in the shoulders and neck and relieves spasms by increasing circulation throughout the body.
According to a Duke University Medical Center review of over 30 research studies comparing acupuncture versus medication for chronic headaches, acupuncture is significantly more effective. The studies included nearly 4,000 patients with migraines, tension headaches and other forms of chronic headaches. A bonus finding: “Acupuncture patients also reported better physical well-being compared to the medication group." See duke.edu for research article.
One way to measure if acupuncture really helps people reduce or get rid of their pain is by looking at whether they’ve decreased their purchase and use of prescription or over-the-counter pain medications. In 2007, a research team in Spain looked at the cost/benefit of acupuncture compared to standard medical treatment for various types of pain in 5,690 people.The researchers found that after acupuncture treatment, the average patient saved $9.70 per week on analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs. For patients who suffered from headache, the savings soared to $35.70 per week. The money saved on medication can definitely offset the price of monthly or biweekly acupuncture treatments, depending on whom you see. Read Acupuncture Can Reduce Costs for Pain Patients.
Corydalis, or yan hu suo, is to the Chinese what aspirin is to Westerners. This potent painkiller is widely used for all types of pain, especially headaches and menstrual cramps. It is particularly beneficial for people who cannot take aspirin or other pain medications due to ulcers or stomach upset. Studies show that it works especially well when combined with acupuncture. Powdered corydalis is one of the strongest analgesic herbs out there and its effectiveness has been compared with morphine and codeine (it is approximately 1% the strength of opium). Because of this it also can be used to reduce anxiety and stress and promote sound sleep. Unlike morphine, yan hu suo has no side effects, a slower development of tolerance, and is non-addictive. Still, pregnant and nursing women should avoid it.
Excellent corydalis formulas are available by prescription from a licensed acupuncturist.