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.

A sudden onset and severe headache with fever or sore neck may be a sign of meningitis which requires immediate medical diagnosis and treatment.

What is our clinical experience?

Based on feedback collected from over 1,216 initial appointments for Headache & Migraine, 78% of our patients reported improved quality of life after their first 4 appointments. See our detailed benchmarking statistics.

Quality of Life
Refer Family &

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.

Summary of Recent Research

Recent research from Australia and internationally highlights the effectiveness of Chinese medicine, particularly acupuncture, in treating headaches and migraines. A 2022 review in the Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics found a 6-week course of acupuncture to be as effective as 6 months of drug prophylaxis for migraines, suggesting that specific point selection and stimulation depth are less critical than previously thought. Additionally, a 2022 randomised controlled trial in Neurology demonstrated that true acupuncture significantly reduces the frequency of chronic tension-type headaches over eight weeks, offering a safe and effective treatment alternative.

Further support for acupuncture is evident in its comparability to pharmacological treatments, with a 2021 trial in Frontiers in Neurology showing similar efficacy in migraine prevention, but with improved patient compliance and fewer adverse events. These findings are consistent with earlier systematic reviews, such as those published in Neurology and Therapy (2020) and Pain Research & Management (2020), which confirm acupuncture's safety and effectiveness in reducing headache frequency and severity. Collectively, this body of research advocates for the integration of acupuncture into standard migraine management protocols, providing a well-tolerated and efficacious treatment option for migraine sufferers.

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 cannot claim that any particular treatment may be effective 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.

Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics

2022, Sep

Role of acupuncture in the treatment of migraine
Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics

The review suggests that acupuncture should be integrated into existing migraine therapy protocols.

Endres HG, Diener HC, Molsberger A Full Article


2022, Jun 22

Acupuncture for Patients With Chronic Tension-Type Headache
Neurology American Academy of Neurology

The 8-week true acupuncture (TA) treatment was effective for the prophylaxis of chronic tension-type headache (CTTH).

Zheng H, Gao T, Zheng QH, Lu LY, Hou TH, Zhang SS, Zhou SY, Hao XY, Wang L, Zhao L, Liang FR, Li Y Full Article

Frontiers in Neurology

2021, Jan 15

A Randomized Clinical Trial on Acupuncture Versus Best Medical Therapy in Episodic Migraine Prophylaxis: The ACUMIGRAN Study
Frontiers in Neurology

Our trial is the first one comparing acupuncture with the more appropriate pharmacological treatment for migraine prophylaxis. Data suggested that acupuncture could be adopted as migraine prophylaxis and seem to be slightly superior to pharmacological treatment in compliance and rate of adverse events.

Giannini G, Favoni V, Merli E, Nicodemo M, Torelli P, Matrà A, Giovanardi CM, Cortelli P, Pierangeli G, Cevoli S 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

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, 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


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

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

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

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

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

2001, Jan 22

Acupuncture for idiopathic headache
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Cochrane

Overall, the existing evidence supports the value of acupuncture for the treatment of idiopathic headaches.

Melchart D, Linde K, Berman B, White A, Vickers A, Allais G, Brinkhaus B Full Article

Clinica Chimica Acta

2000, May

Free and total magnesium in lymphocytes of migraine patients — effect of magnesium-rich mineral water intake
Clinica Chimica Acta

Migraine patients exhibit significantly lower concentrations of total magnesium in erythrocytes and Mg2+ in lymphocytes compared to control subjects. Although there is an overlap of individual values, Mg2+ in lymphocytes appears to be the most sensitive index of magnesium deficiency, showing a 15% decrease in migraine patients compared to controls. After a 2-week intake of a magnesium-rich mineral water, a significant increase in all intracellular magnesium concentrations was observed, indicating the bioavailability of magnesium from the mineral water.

Thomas J, Millot JM, Sebille S, Delabroise AM, Thomas E, Manfait M, Arnaud MJ Full Article

Yin Tang
“It is by virtue of the twelve channels that human life exists, that disease arises, that human beings can be treated and illness cured. The twelve channels are where beginners start and masters end.” The Classic of Acupuncture
Circa 1st Century BCE