Drug treatment, change of lifestyle… Many migraine sufferers have tried everything to ease their pain. Everything, or almost everything, since acupuncture can prove to be a precious ally in the management of migraine.

Migraines are a real ordeal for those who endure them. Often, drug treatments work; but for others, they have side effects that are not compatible with the obligations of daily life. Moreover, these treatments do not always offer a long-term solution… More and more patients are turning to acupuncture, which is one of the most common reasons for consultation with practitioners of this technique.

1- Acupuncture and migraine: treating the source

Acupuncture aims to treat migraine at the source and thus offer lasting relief, either by reducing the frequency or intensity of the attacks, or by making them disappear altogether. “When nothing has been revealed on MRI, it is because the origin of the migraine is not in the head, but elsewhere in the body,” says Laurent Turlin, acupuncturist. In other words, if you come in for a migraine, you will not be pricked in the brain. This is the principle of acupuncture, which is based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). This ancient technique consists of placing needles on meridians. According to TCM, twelve meridians originate in the organs and form energy channels in the body.

2- In concrete terms, how does a session unfold?

The first part of the session consists in making an energy assessment of the person.

The second part of the protocol will allow the acupuncturist to identify the energy channel that is affected and at the origin of the migraine. “For example, if the pain is located on one side of the skull, I know that it corresponds to the gallbladder channel,” continues the specialist.

The third part of the process is then to rebalance the suffering channel(s), not by acting directly on it, but by using one or more complementary meridians. To come back to our example, it will then be a question of acting on the heart channel which, according to Dr. Tan’s balancing method1 , regulates the gallbladder. “And to act on the damage to the gallbladder channel, we will balance it through the heart channel by concentrating on an area at the elbow. This is not by chance. If you project the face onto the arm, the elbow is the projection of the eyes, and a certain area of the heart is the projection of the gallbladder. This is called holographic mirror projection. Therefore, using this point – Heart 3 – you can remove the blockage almost instantly,” says our expert.

Sometimes, when the pain travels throughout the brain, or literally “takes over” the whole head, the acupuncturist may have to come and stimulate the 12 meridians. To do this, the “12 magic points strategy” is used in order to operate a global rebalancing of the energy system, with one needle per meridian (12 needles). These techniques are based on Dr. Tan’s method of energy rebalancing and the Master Tung2 points.

3- For what results?

Migraines are among the pathologies for which the WHO considers that acupuncture can be a good complementary treatment. “In four trials, 41% of people treated with acupuncture in addition to usual care or migraine crisis treatment (usually with analgesics) had their headache frequency reduced by at least half, compared with 17 out of 100 people receiving usual care alone,” reported the Cochrane review, which analyzed more than 22 trials totaling a cohort of 5000 patients.

According to the Cochrane review, “the available evidence suggests that the addition of acupuncture to symptomatic treatment of seizures reduces the frequency of headaches. In contrast to the previous update of results, the data also suggest that there is an effect of real acupuncture compared with sham treatment, but this effect is small. The available trials also suggest that acupuncture may be at least as effective as treatment with prophylactic drugs.

For his part, Laurent Turlin reports having witnessed live relief for some subjects, but also lasting healings. “This may seem hard to believe because in the West, we are very focused on the why and not the how, unlike in the East. For many people, meridians don’t exist because you can’t see them. But acupuncture is not esoteric, it is based on an experience of more than 3500 years”, he insists. Moreover, he stresses that the sessions must at least reduce the intensity of the pain felt, or the frequency of the attacks. “If this is not the case, it is essential to go for a consultation to check if there is no visible cause on the MRI. Otherwise, acupuncture works on all types of migraine as well as headaches,” he adds.

4- Duration and frequency of sessions

A session usually lasts 1 hour. “By observing with the scanner, we realize that it takes at least 30 minutes for the needles to act. The ancients calculated very precisely that the Qi (pronounced TCHi, which means energy) takes 28 minutes and 48 seconds to pass through the body. This corresponds to a cycle of passage of the QI between yin and yang, knowing that traditionally, the right arm and the left leg are yin, and the left arm and the right leg are yang. The general regulation of the body occurs through a spiral effect,” explains Laurent Turlin. When the case is more complicated, a session of one and a half hours may be recommended in order to achieve three cycles with the needles. It is sometimes necessary to act at a rate of 3 sessions per week to obtain a result, until the healing is effective.

However, since acupuncture acts as a preventive measure, it is advisable to continue the follow-up at the rate of one session per month, ideally. This helps to prevent the effects of stress, which are often linked to the onset of migraines. “I recommend a minimum of one session at each change of season. In general, when people are better, they stop the sessions, but it is important to continue this background treatment to avoid that the person’s terrain becomes again conducive to migraines”, observes the acupuncturist.

Acupuncture is not covered by social security, but may be reimbursed by some mutual insurance companies.

The information provided on our website does not constitute medical advice or a diagnosis. Many factors unknown to us about your particular situation may affect the applicability of any statement or comment made on this site. In the event of illness or disease, you should consult the health care professional(s) who will be able to properly assess your condition.

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