Monday, April 28, 2008

Acupuncture Eases Tension Headache Pain

The Chinese Art of Acupuncture

The ancient Chinese medicinal art of Acupuncture has an important place in alternative healing even today. The proponents of acupuncture rave about the benefits and efficacy of receiving acupuncture treatment sessions. There are also many studies that have substantiated some of the positive effects of acupuncture treatments on patients.

Acupuncture involves positioning long, thin needles on various points on the body. There are different techniques to the insertion of the needles, including care for the angles at which they are inserted, different types of needles (there are nine, but most practitioners only use six types of the needles), and various ways to twirl or vibrate the needles. The needles are placed on the body depending upon the ailment of the patient. Acupuncturists believe that the body has different energy channels that help in the efficient and proper functioning of the body. Precise placement of the needles draws enThe ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture has proven to be an effective treatment for tension headache. It not only relieves pain, but also cuts rates of recurrence by almost half, a recent study indicates.

Traditional Chinese acupuncture therapy involves insertion of needles up to 3 inches deep into the body at prescribed acupuncture points, according to licensed acupuncturist Rong Zeng of the New York Good Health Clinic in Manhattan.

However, a new, randomized blind study in Germany involving 270 patients with a similar severity of tension headache has shown that a minimal course of acupuncture works almost as well as the traditional method.

Fewer Headaches After Treatment

Researchers divided the patients into three groups. Over an eight-week period, one group was treated with traditional acupuncture, another received minimal acupuncture (needles inserted only superficially into the skin at non-acupuncture points), and the control group had neither treatment.

The subjects were monitored for four weeks after their period of treatment. Those who had received traditional acupuncture care subsequently experienced seven fewer headaches. The group that had been given minimal acupuncture therapy had surprisingly similar results -- 6.6 fewer headaches.

The control group did not fare as well, with only 1.5 fewer headaches.

Improvements in headache rates continued for months after the acupuncture treatment, though they began to rise slightly as time went on.

Results Subject to Interpretation

Such a negligible difference in results between traditional and minimal acupuncture treatments possibly indicates that the location of acupuncture points and depth of needle insertion do not make a major difference for treatment of tension headache, the authors of the study suggest.

However, they caution that the possibility of placebo effects should not be overlooked.

"Placebo effect is a factor in all types of medicine," Dr. Zeng noted. In western medicine, for example, blind tests may reveal placebo effects that are similar to responses to trial drugs, she explained.

In any case, it is clear that the patients who received acupuncture treatment experienced fewer headaches. The possibility that placebo effect plays a role in acupuncture does not detract from its efficacy.

ergy to the needed areas and makes way for positive energy flow. This is what adherents profess gives the health benefits.

Those who practice and those who receive acupuncture point to a variety of positive health benefits associated with the expert placement of the needles. When placed in the proper places, acupuncture needles are said to help cure nearly any ailment from chronic pain to diabetes to cellulite. Cancer patients report that acupuncture helps them deal with their disease by helping them achieve calm and by helping them feel more energetic after cancer treatments. Additionally, relief of the pain associated with the progression of the cancer is felt. Similar results are said to be felt by HIV/AIDS patients.

For people without specific diseases, however, there are other health benefits. Acupuncture adds energy to the day. It can also reduce anxiety and stress. People who use this treatment claim that they feel calmer, and that they feel happier. Additionally, many of them report less worry and anxiety. They feel more alert mentally and more stable emotionally. Acupuncture is also said to help prevent diseases. Because regular treatments keep the body in proper working order, and because the positive energy is uninhibited through its channels, the body is said to be less prone to sickness.

You can maintain your health and sense of well being by choosing acupuncture. There is researched evidence of the positive effects of acupuncture on the health of patients. However, most physicians and scientists recommend the use of more traditional methods of medicine for treating illnesses.