Those who suffer from headaches daily or near daily live with a pain or annoyance that most people will never understand. The World Health Organization says that nearly 1 out of every 20 adults suffers from daily or near daily headaches of varying severity. While more severe migraine headaches can affect up to 1 out of every 7 individuals.
Headaches can be caused by many factors including but not limited to: stress, sensitivity to chemicals, food sensitivities, caffeine, changing weather conditions, hormones out of balance, excessive fatigue, skipping meals, low blood sugar, dehydration, and changes in normal sleep. There are also people with unknown causes of headaches and migraines that seem to be completely random.
There is a migraine “pain center” or generator in the brain. A migraine begins when hyperactive nerve cells send out impulses to the blood vessels, causing them to constrict, followed by dilation (expanding) and the release of prostaglandins, serotonin, and other inflammatory substances that cause the pulsation to be painful. This contraction of the blood vessels is why some people swear by caffeine to prevent headaches because caffeine has been shown to dilate blood vessels which may help prevent that initial contraction causing the headache.
The main issue with relying on a caffeine regimen to prevent headaches is that caffeine often comes from non desired sources, and caffeine also has a known dehydration effect on the body which in turn may cause more headaches over time. Also caffeine taken too late can cause somebody to have a restless sleep which can trigger headaches for many people.
Acupuncture has been shown to help stimulate blood flow and vessel dilation around the points of needle insertion which can help prevent the type of contraction in the blood vessels which leads to headaches. There are also many studies which show that acupuncture is a great tool at helping people with stress. Acupuncture won’t help you avoid stress but it can help your body handle the stress load better so it doesn’t weight the individual down too much causing headaches or anxiety.
One thing that visiting an acupuncturist can help with is to help find the cause/trigger of the headache. Often times an acupuncturist will ask questions that can help determine the source of the problem. It may be a hormone imbalance in which acupuncture may be able to help balance everything out. Or it may be a food sensitivity in which a plan can be presented to help determine what foods/ingredients are causing the problem.
Many studies have been done in the last few years with much of the evidence saying that acupuncture can in fact help with headaches and migraines. It may not help for every person depending on what the cause of the headache is, but I have found that it can be very helpful for my patients and for myself as well. Acupuncture has been what’s helped me clear my migraine headaches and prevent them from coming back.
The World Health Organization classified headaches/migraines under the category as a disease, symptoms or condition for which acupuncture has been proved – through controlled trials – to be an effective treatment. While the National Institute of Health says that acupuncture may help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches.
If you or anybody you know is living with frequent or daily headaches or migraines, you have most likely tried most everything else to deal with your headaches, including medications and supplements. The nice thing about trying acupuncture for headaches is that there are no known adverse side effects that you might be receiving like from your medications. If it helps, that is great, but if it doesn’t help after a few sessions, then the medications and other treatments are still there to use.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, feel free to give me a call at (360) 892-4355 and I will be glad to answer any questions you may have to see whether or not acupuncture may be of benefit to you.