Acupuncture for Headache & Migraine

Acupuncture for Headache & Migraine.

Headache and migraines are very common and debilitating, yet many people remain undiagnosed or untreated until their symptoms become unbearable.

Apart from commonly experienced tension, migraine and sinus headaches, there are also many medical conditions that cause headache which can make diagnosing and treating the underlying cause a challenging task.

What Does The Research Say?

The following insights are obtained from systematic reviews and analysis of clinical trials investigating the efficacy of Chinese medicine and acupuncture for headache & migraine.

Consult with our practitioners for personalised care and advice.

Although well-conducted clinical research can help members of the public to make better-informed decisions about their healthcare, we do not make any claims that any particular treatment may be efficacious for any individual person.

When you consult with our Chinese medicine practitioners, you'll receive personalised advice and treatment based on your symptoms and Chinese medicine diagnosis.

Scientific References

Browse our collection of scientific clinical research on acupuncture for headache & migraine.

It includes recent and reputable papers published by peer-reviewed journals within the last 10 years.

Complementary Therapies in Medicine

2021, May

The effectiveness and safety of Tuina for tension-type headache: A systematic review and meta-analysis
Complementary Therapies in Medicine

Tuina has a certain effect in treating tension headache. However, due to the low level of methodological quality included in the article, this conclusion should be considered cautiously. More studies are necessary to strengthen the evidence regarding the effectiveness and safety of Tuina for subjects with TTH.

Fan Z, Di A, Huang F, Zhao S, Qiu M, Wu C, Huang C, Guo R, Tian Q, Wu S Full Article

Cureus Journal of Medical Science

2021, Apr 01

The Effectiveness of Acupuncture on Headache Intensity and Frequency in Patients With Tension-Type Headache: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Cureus Journal of Medical Science

This meta-analysis and systematic review showed that both headache intensity and frequency were reduced in the long term. Patients reported to fair better with acupuncture when combined with other treatments such as over-the-counter pain killers.

Kolokotsios S, Stamouli A, Koukoulithras I, Plexousakis M, Drousia G Full Article

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

2021, Mar 25

Cupping Therapy for Migraine: A PRISMA-Compliant Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Cupping therapy could be effective for the treatment of migraine. However, the qualities of the evidence were low, so well-designed RCTs are needed to confirm the effectiveness of cupping.

Jihye Seo, Hongmin Chu, Cheol-Hyun Kim, Kang-Keyng Sung, Sangkwan Lee Full Article

Neurology and Therapy

2020, Oct 1

Acupuncture and Its Role in the Treatment of Migraine Headaches
Neurology and Therapy

The current research analysis revealed that 41% of patients who received acupuncture had a reduction in migraine frequency. Results found that 57% of patients who received true acupuncture had a reduction in migraine frequency by at least half compared with 46% who received medication. Overall, acupuncture helped improve quality of life and reduction in medication

Urits I, Patel M, Putz ME, Monteferrante NR, Nguyen D, An D, Cornett EM, Hasoon J, Kaye AD, Viswanath O. Full Article

Frontiers in Neurology

2020, Jun 30

A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of the Therapeutic Effect of Acupuncture on Migraine
Frontiers in Neurology

This systematic review study showcased that acupuncture reduced the frequency of migraine attacks and reported to have less pain intensities. Patients in acupuncture group showed higher effectiveness compared with medicated group. The transcranial doppler brain ultrasound also showed improvements in blood circulation in migraine patients. Overall, acupuncture has a significant impact on faster decreased rate after acupuncture than after drug therapy.

Ou MQ, Fan WH, Sun FR, Jie WX, Lin MJ, Cai YJ, Liang SY, Yu YS, Li MH, Cui LL, Zhou HH Full Article

Pain Research & Management

2020, Mar 23

Effectiveness and Safety of Acupuncture for Migraine: An Overview of Systematic Reviews
Pain Research & Management

We found high quality of evidence indicated that the effective rate of acupuncture was superior to western medicine in treatment of migraine. Besides, acupuncture reduced more headache days and the times of using painkiller and was more effective in reducing the frequency and degree of headache than western medicine and sham acupuncture. Based on high quality of evidence, we concluded that acupuncture may be an effective and safe therapy for migraine.

Li YX, Xiao XL, Zhong DL, Luo LJ, Yang H, Zhou J, He MX, Shi LH, Li J, Zheng H, Jin RJ Full Article


2019, Dec 24

Systematic Review: Acupuncture vs Standard Pharmacological Therapy for Migraine Prevention
Headache American Headache Society

This systematic review of randomised controlled trials articles showed that acupuncture is just as effective for treating migraine. It also has fewer side effects than many of the standard modern pharmaceutical agents. Patients also reported to use less pharmacological drugs after treatments.

Niushen Zhang, Tim Houle, Nada Hindiyeh, & Sheena K. Aurora Full Article

Pain Research & Management

2019, Oct 29

An Overview of Systematic Reviews of Randomized Controlled Trials on Acupuncture Treating Migraine
Pain Research & Management

We found that acupuncture on treating migraine has the advantage for pain improvement and safety, but the quality of SR/MAs of acupuncture for migraine remains to be improved.

Xia-tian Zhang, Xin-yi Li, Chen Zhao, Ye-yin Hu, Yi-yi Lin, He-qing Chen, Zhao-feng Shi, Xiao-yu Zhang, Hong-cai Shang, Gui-hua Tian Full Article


2019, Aug 29

Acupuncture in Adult and Pediatric Headache: A Narrative Review

In this article, the authors conduct a review of acupuncture in pediatric headache, including neurobiological mechanisms, adult headache studies, pediatric headache studies, safety, and use of acupuncture in other conditions in children. Acupuncture appears to be safe and effective for the treatment of migraine in children.

Doll, E., Threlkeld, B., Graff, D., Clemons, R., Mittel, O., Sowell, M. K. Full Article

World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion

2019, Mar

Acupuncture for migraine: A systematic review and meta-analysis
World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion World Federation of Acupuncture-Moxibustion Societies

The results of this meta-analysis showed that acupuncture is more effective and safer than medication for migraine. Patients in acupuncture group found acupuncture to be better than medication for migraine treatment and prophylaxis

SHEN, Feng-jiao AU - XU, Jia AU - ZHAN, Yi-jun AU - FU, Qin-hui AU - PEI, Jian PY Full Article

Acupuncture in Medicine

2018, Dec 12

Acupuncture for Episodic Cluster Headache: A Trigeminal Approach
Acupuncture in Medicine British Medical Acupuncture Society

In this case report, episodic cluster headache is treated in the same way as has been shown effective for trigeminal neuralgia. Acupuncture is applied to the contralateral side at points appropriate for stimulating branches of the trigeminal nerve. Thus, ST2 is used for the infraorbital nerve, BL2 and Yuyao for the supratrochlear and supraorbital nerves, and Taiyang for the temporal branch of the zygomatic nerve.

Simon Hayhoe Full Article

Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies

2018, Oct

Effectiveness of Acupuncture as Auxiliary Treatment for Chronic Headache
Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies Medical Association of Pharmacopuncture Institute

This study showcase the effectiveness of acupuncture with chronic headache patients. The participants were found to have decreased in pain, reduced the amount of migraines attacks, reduced the amount of analgesics used, and improved the quality of life. Patients reported to have an overall better mental and physical health after treatments.

Mayrink WC, Garcia JBS, Dos Santos AM, Nunes JKVRS, Mendonça THN Full Article

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

2017, May 9

The Efficacy of Acupuncture for the Treatment of Cervical Vertigo: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Based on the systematic review, acupuncture appeared to be a promising therapeutic approach for CV based on low or very low quality of evidence. However, large-scale and high-quality trials are required to provide stronger evidence for the conclusion.

Zhuanzhuan Hou, Shibing Xu, Qinglin Li, Libing Cai, Weigang Wu, Huida Yu, Huade Chen Full Article

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

2016, Jun 28

Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Cochrane

The available evidence suggests that adding acupuncture to symptomatic treatment of attacks reduces the frequency of headaches. Contrary to the previous findings, the updated evidence also suggests that there is an effect over sham, but this effect is small. The available trials also suggest that acupuncture may be at least similarly effective as treatment with prophylactic drugs. Acupuncture can be considered a treatment option for patients willing to undergo this treatment.

Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, et al. Full Article

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

2016, Apr 19

Acupuncture for the prevention of tension‐type headache
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Cochrane

The available results suggest that acupuncture is effective for treating frequent episodic or chronic tension‐type headaches. Patients in acupuncture group reported to have at least 50% reduction of headache frequency compared to placebo group.

Klaus Linde,Gianni Allais,Benno Brinkhaus, Yutong Fei,Michael Mehring,Byung‐Cheul Shin,Andrew Vickers,Adrian R White Full Article

BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies

2015, Jun 9

Efficacy and safety of acupuncture for dizziness and vertigo in emergency department: a pilot cohort study
BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies

Acupuncture demonstrates a significant immediate effect in reducing discomforts and VAS of both dizziness and vertigo. This study provides clinical evidence on the efficacy and safety of acupuncture to treat dizziness and vertigo in the emergency department.

Chiu, CW., Lee, TC., Hsu, PC. et al. Full Article

Neurological Sciences

2014, May 28

Acupuncture in cluster headache: four cases and review of the literature
Neurological Sciences

In all patients an interruption of cluster attacks was obtained. To our knowledge, this is the first report concerning acupuncture in CH patients which details the protocol approach, acupoints and duration of the treatment. Our results offer the opportunity to discuss the emerging role of acupuncture in the therapy of CH, assuming a possible influence on opioid system.

Fofi L, Allais G, Quirico PE, Rolando S, Borgogno P, Barbanti P, Benedetto C Full Article

Acupuncture points