What is a Migraine?
Migraine is a chronic disorder characterized by recurrent moderate to severe headaches, often in combination with a number of symptoms of the autonomic nervous system. The severe headache is allocated in half of the head (but not always), with several symptoms that usually accompany it: nausea, vomiting, discomfort in light, noise and odors. In case it is accompanied by visual disturbances or numbness in half the body, we call it a migraine with aura.
A day with a severe migraine, is indeed a temporary disability. At the end of the crisis, there is often a feeling of exhaustion, malaise and a tendency to sleep.
Migraines affect a total of 12% of the world’s population (18% women, 6-7% men). It is 3 times more common in women, while seizures peak at the age of 40, and heredity plays an important role.
Causes of Migraine
There are a number of conditions that can cause migraines:
- The patient’s exposure to very bright lights or loud noises and smells.
- The feeling of exhaustion / work overloading
- JetLag caused by long flights
- Hormonal changes in women and especially estrogen. Many women experience migraine at the beginning of the period, during pregnancy and menopause, as well as during treatment with contraceptives.
- Some medicines
- Sleep deprivation or a change in sleep habits
- Certain foods such as chocolate, certain cheeses, or some food preservation additives.
- Certain alcoholic beverages such as red wine, chocolate, Aspartame, coffee. Fasting too, in some people.
- Stress is the main cause of migraine attacks.
- The sexual act
- Changes in weather, temperature and environment
Migraine in Traditional Chinese Medicine
In Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, although the Western classification of a ”headache/migraine” does not apply, many common symptoms are recognized.
The migraine is attributed to an imbalance of the body that can be caused by harmful emotions, diets, and harmful habits, as well as the negative effects of climatic conditions. Any climate overshoot can significantly change our balance, both physically and mentally. It is helpful to know if the migraine gets worse in the summer or winter, or when the weather changes. Therefore, it is not surprising that in Chinese medicine we are talking about a migraine due to humidity, or a migraine due to strong wind, or cold.
Efficacy of Medical Acupuncture in the Treatment of Migraines
Acupuncture is definitely an effective treatment for migraines. The available data show how Acupuncture can be effective, comparable at least to pharmacological treatment.
According to a study published by the American Migraine Foundation, based on a recent systematic review of 22 clinical trials involving 4,985 people, there is evidence that Acupuncture reduces the incidence of headache in people with migraines, and that this result, may be similar to that observed with preventive medications.
The incidence of headache of people receiving Acupuncture treatments is reduced by up to 59% and this effect can be maintained for more than 6 months.
Acupuncture aims to keep the energy flow (called “Qi”) balanced in the meridians. The Acupuncturist Physician places needles at specific pressure points, usually along the patient’s back or neck, where the transmission of pain can be minimized.
The required sessions are approximately 12, depending on the severity of the clinical condition; can be also combined with Herbal Therapy. Relaxation exercises and techniques such as Mindfulness have been used successfully in the past, in patients suffering from migraine. The Physicians / Acupuncturists at the Medical Acupuncture Institute have long experience in the effective treatment of Migraine.
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