What no one wants to tell you about acupuncture and headaches

Pain relief and speed healing with acupuncture

If you suffer from headaches, give our office a call at (425) 686-4498 to learn how we can help you live pain-free!

Acupuncture for headache treatment

What no one wants to tell you about acupuncture and headaches

Headaches are among the most common disorders of the nervous system, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is estimated that half to three quarters of adults aged 18–65 years in the world have had a headache in the last year. Among these individuals, 30 percent or more have reported suffering from a migraine. And 1.7 to 4 percent of the world’s adult population has a headache for 15 days or more.

Headaches are disabling and can significantly influence the quality of life, especially for those suffering from chronic headache disorders. Repeated headaches affect family and personal life, affect employment and come at a great financial cost.

Types of headaches

Some headaches are episodic and occur randomly and typically disappear in some time while chronic headaches are consistent and occur more frequently, even lasting for days. Headaches are classified as either being a primary headache that is often not triggered by any condition or illness, tension headache, cluster headache, or a migraine headache. Secondary headaches, can also occur and are typically a symptom of something else going on in the body such as allergies, sinus pressure, or even high blood pressure.

At Starting Point, we found that most people have multiple triggers for their headaches. Often they are prescribed medication or OTC pain-relief medications to help, but it does not address the root cause and often is only a temporary relief. What if we told you that there is a safe, natural, evidence-based, and time-tested treatment option for headaches?

Yep! It’s called acupuncture!

How can acupuncture help with headaches?

Acupuncture has been shown to not only reduce pain and inflammation but to work holistically to help reduce the bodies response to the triggers that lead to headaches. What makes acupuncture so unique is that it also helps other areas in the body affected by this inflammation and imbalance such as energy, sleep disturbance, emotional balancing, and reducing muscle tension.

Various biological processes take place in the body during acupuncture. These mechanisms—the neural pathways from acupuncture point stimulation to the spinal cord and the deactivation of the pain centers in the brain—have been studied and mapped over time.

Read our previous post on how acupuncture can help headaches, here.

Acupuncture acts through multiple pathways to produce analgesic effects and reduce central sensitization. It triggers a sequence of events that include the release of chemicals, including neurotransmitters and the body’s own opioids, within the central nervous system, which produces the analgesic effect of acupuncture.

What do the studies say about acupuncture and headaches?

A Cochrane review of 22 randomized trials compared the effects of acupuncture with sham acupuncture, usual care and drug treatment specifically on migraines. Compared to usual frequency, acupuncture improved headache frequency with 41 percent of those treated with acupuncture experiencing at least 50 percent reduction in headache frequency. Acupuncture consistently reduced headache frequency compared to sham acupuncture. After three months headache frequency at least halved in 57 percent of participants receiving acupuncture compared to 46 percent in those taking prophylactic drugs and after six months in 59 percent and 54 percent, respectively.

Quality of life is greatly affected by frequent headaches and a systematic review in 2018 found that acupuncture enhanced quality of life more than medication did as it exhibits greater efficacy both in treatment and prevention of migraines compared to no treatment, sham acupuncture and medication.

Other studies that have assessed the effectiveness of acupuncture when given in addition to usual care, have found acupuncture to have clinically relevant benefits for people with headaches. In one such study, patients suffering from chronic headaches who had acupuncture experienced 34 percent fewer headache days. They used 15 percent less medication, had 15 percent fewer days off work and 25 percent fewer GP visits after one year.

Using a combined integrative approach to headaches is the key to long-term prevention and reduction of intensity or severity of headaches, if they happen to attack. The even better part? Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment option that can be use indefinitely with out side effects!

If you suffer from headaches, give our office a call at (425) 686-4498 to learn how we can help you live pain-free!





Call or Schedule Now! (425) 686-4498

Call or Schedule Now!

(425) 686-4498

Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc

  • Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
    Bastyr University
  • Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
    Bastyr University
  • Master’s Degree in Chemistry
    Northern Arizona University
Dr. Heintze Acupuncturist and Naturopathic Doctor

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