Acupuncture Cuts Migraine Severity
Researchers conclude that acupuncture increases the clinical effective rate of the drug deanxit for the treatment of migraines. Importantly, the addition of acupuncture to the administration of deanxit significantly reduces the adverse effects caused by the medication. The data was published in the report entitled Clinical Effect Observation of Acupuncture and Moxibustion Combined with Flupentixol/Melitracen Tablet in the Treatment of Migraine.
This research confirms findings made by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York) and University of York (York) researchers. In a high quality study with a massive sample size exceeding 18,000 patients, the researchers determined that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of headaches and migraines. In the research, acupuncture was found effective as a standalone therapy for migraines. We’ll take a look at that research shortly. First, let’s take a look at the acupuncture research for the treatment of migraines when the deanxit drug therapy was employed.
Deanxit is used for the treatment of depression, anxiety, bipolar illness, myogenic headaches, and intractable migraines. Deanxit is a combination of two medications, comprised of both flupentixol and melitracen. Flupentixol is a thioxanthene class antipsychotic medication and melitracen is a tricyclic antidepressant. Deanxit is banned in the USA due to neurological adverse effects associated with intake of the medication. It is also habit forming and withdrawal is difficult. The research is important given that acupuncture significantly reduces the adverse effect rate of the medication.
Guangdong Yangjiang Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital researchers determined that the addition of acupuncture to administration of melitracen/flupentixol increases the total effective rate by 7.14%. Acupuncture plus melitracen/flupentixol had an 82.14% total treatment effective rate. Melitracen/flupentixol as a standalone therapy, in the same study, achieved a 75.00% total effective rate. Based on the data, the researchers conclude that “the combination of acupuncture with melitracen/flupentixol provides optimal patient outcomes for the treatment of migraines.”
A total of 56 patients with migraines were treated and evaluated in this study. All patients were diagnosed with migraines between January 2013 and June 2016. They were randomly divided into a treatment group and a control group, with 28 patients in each group. In the treatment group, there were 4 males and 24 females. The age range was 20–65 years. The average age was 43.4 (±2.4) years. The duration of each attack was 2–12 hours, and the average duration was 8.5 (±2.8) hours. The observation group included 6 males and 22 females. The age range was 22–64 years. The average age was 44.6 (±2.7) years. The duration of each attack was 2–14 hours, and the average duration was 8.7 (±2.8) hours. Based on these statistics, there were no significant differences between the two groups at the start of the investigation.
Both groups received melitracen/flupentixol tablets. Melitracen/flupentixol tablets were orally administered twice per day, with a dosage of 10.5 mg each time. The treatment group also received acupuncture and moxibustion. The primary acupoints selected for the treatment group were the following:
- EX-HN5 (Taiyang)
- GB8 (Shuaigu)
- ST8 (Touwei)
Next, the following distal acupoints were needled using the Ping Bu Ping Xie (attenuating and tonifying) techniques and moxibustion was also applied:
- LV3 (Taichong)
- GB43 (Xiaxi)
The treatments were conducted three times per week, for 6 consecutive weeks. After completion of all treatments, the treatment efficacy for each patient was categorized into 1 of 4 tiers:
- Recovery: No relapse for at least 6 months.
- Significantly effective: Significant improvement in headache severity and duration.
- Effective: Improvement in headache severity and duration.
- Not effective: No improvement in headache severity and duration.
Acupuncture plus melitracen/flupentixol produced an 82.14% total treatment effective rate for the treatment of migraines. The melitracen/flupentixol group, in the same study, achieved a 75.00% total treatment effective rate. The researchers determined that the total effective rate increased and the adverse effect rate decreased because acupuncture was introduced into the drug therapy protocol.
The researchers also provided insights into Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles relative to the treatment of migraines, “In most cases, acupoints should be selected near the affected area.” In addition, “certain distal acupoints on relevant meridians should be considered to achieve a better treatment result.” This principle, in this scenario, is the Shang Bing Xia Zhi, which means treating a disease affecting the upper part of the body by needling acupoints on the lower portion of the body.
GB8 is on the shaoyang gallbladder meridian and is effective in promoting qi and blood circulation through the meridian. Taiyang and ST8, which are located near the affected region, are selected for promoting qi and blood circulation locally. Two distal points were selected to strengthen the effects of the local acupoints. LV3 is a Yuan point on the liver meridian and is effective in regulating qi circulation throughout the body. GB43 is a Ying Spring point on the gallbladder meridian and compliments GB8 in activating the qi and blood circulation of the gallbladder meridian. GB43 is classically indicated for benefitting the head, eyes, and ears.
In related research, Chu HR et al. find acupuncture effective for the treatment of migraines. The researchers determined that acupuncture provided the clinical benefits of migraine reduction while simultaneously regulating levels of 5-HT and 5-HIAA. As a result of their investigation, Chu HR et al. recommend additional research to promote a greater biochemical understanding of acupuncture’s effects on the human body for patients with migraines.
Researchers at the Jilin University Hospital (Second Affiliated) reached similar conclusions. The study also stresses the importance of moxibustion for the treatment of migraines. An acupuncture group was compared with an acupuncture plus moxibustion group. Both groups were found effective for the treatment of headaches. The researchers note that “acupuncture plus moxibustion regulated 5-HT levels and had better patient outcomes.”
In a groundbreaking study with a massive sample size and strict study design, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York) and University of York (York) researchers determined that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of headaches and migraines. The researchers note that acupuncture is “more effective than both usual care and sham acupuncture” for the treatment of chronic pain. They add that their conclusions are based on “robust evidence from high-quality trials on acupuncture” with a sample size of over 18,000 patients.
The researchers find acupuncture effective for reducing pain involved in knee osteoarthritis, low back pain, headaches, and migraines. They add, “Acupuncture was also found to be better than standard medical care for all of these chronic pain conditions.” The researchers note, “Our research also provides a valuable basis for considering the potential role of acupuncture as a referral option in health care and enabling providers and policy-makers to make decisions based on robust sources of evidence.”
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2. Chu HR. Clinical Study on Midnight-noon Ebb-flow Acupuncture for the Treatment of Migraine [J]. Journal of Clinical Acupuncture & Moxibustion, 1996(8):5–7.
3. Wang XY. The Clinical Study on Vascular Headache Treated with Acupuncture and Moxibustion[J]. Journal of Guiyang College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2004, 26(4):33–35.
4. Macpherson, Hugh, Andrew Vickers, Martin Bland, David Torgerson, Mark Corbett, Eldon Spackman, Pedro Saramago, Beth Woods, Helen Weatherly, Mark Sculpher, Andrea Manca, Stewart Richmond, Ann Hopton, Janet Eldred, and Ian Watt. “Acupuncture for chronic pain and depression in primary care: a programme of research.” Programme Grants for Applied Research 5, no. 3 (2017): pg 1.Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (New York, USA), University of York (York, UK).