Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Research on Acupuncture for Migraines and Headaches

The Cochrane Review completed and update to their survey of acupuncture research and have found it a successful therapy in the search for relief from migraines and tension headaches.

One of the most exciting elements of this report is the explanation of why the placebo control groups often reported benefit close to the level of other participants receiving "real" acupuncture or "traditional" pharmacotherapy. Most of the studies using "sham" treatments as control populations were still receiving acupuncture therapy and therefore cannot be considered true placebos.

One of the issues with acupuncture research is the difficulty in standardizing therapy for the purposes of study in a modality that does not practice the western style cookbook-medicine. The detractors sum it all up by saying anyone who receives benefits from acupuncture must have had psychosomatic pain (aka: "it is all in your head"). While I expect these folks will embrace research demonstrating the effectiveness of acupuncture about as quickly as geocentrists accepted Galileo, having an evidence-based medicine giant may make them re-examine the research.

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