Acupuncture is an ancient traditional Chinese medical theory. This is a technique of inserting needles in certain particular regions of the body, with the aim of relieving pain and healing them. For years people have followed this technique for healing various health complications. However two separate systematic reviews by the Cochrane researchers states that the needle point may not necessarily be inserted correctly, for the treatment to produce an effective outcome. They say that headaches and migraines can be treated with acupuncture, irrespective of the position of the inserted needles.
Lead investigator of both studies, Klaus Linde, from the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, Technical University, Munich, Germany, says that, “Much of the clinical benefit of acupuncture might be due to non-specific needling effects and powerful placebo effects, meaning selection of specific needle points may be less important than many practitioners have traditionally argued.”
Both the studies comprised of 33 trials, which participated more than 6,700 patients. Investigators of both studies wanted to determine if acupuncture could reduce the headache phases in the studied patients. One study mainly examined the mild and moderate headaches which occurred frequently. They mainly concentrated on the frequent “tension-type” headaches. On the other hand, the second study, mainly concentrated on the severe headaches which occurred very rarely. Such headaches are known as migraines.
Over a period of 2 months, it was discovered that patients treated with acupuncture experienced lesser headaches as compared to their solely painkiller-receiving counterparts. Acupuncture was said to have gained more success in treating patients, as compared to the prophylactic drug treatments. However, it was also noticed that faked acupuncture treatments were approximately equally effective as correct acupuncture treatments. It is stated that in the “tension-type” headache study, effects of the correct acupuncture treatments were slightly higher than the fake acupuncture treatment effects.
The investigators conclude that acupuncture treatments can be used to treat patient’s who prefer to avoid drug medications. This may actually result in fewer side effects, as compared to the use of drug medications. Having said this, they also state that a more detailed analysis is required in order to verify these results. They suggest doctors to be well versed with the period that these acupuncture treatments may last in patients. Also doctors need to be certain if accurately trained acupuncturists yield better results than the basically trained acupuncturists.