it comes to treating headaches, acupuncture may one day be as common
a remedy as taking aspirin. In fact, the ancient Chinese treatment
is gaining respect in the medical community as a therapy for aching
In fact, a new study
at the University of North Carolina adds to a growing body of clinical
research supporting acupuncture's role as a headache therapy.
The study of more
than 70 chronic headache sufferers found that those who added a
six-week course of acupuncture to their medical treatment reported
less pain and better quality of life compared to those who didn't
get the therapy.
to their treatment clearly improved their situation," said
acupuncture researcher Dr. Remy Coeytaux.
Coeytaux said that
it is not clear from this study, or others, how much of the improvement
is a placebo effect, or even how acupuncture eases chronic headache
"There is more
to the body than chemistry and anatomy and that there is an energy
that is coursing through the body," Coeytaux said.
For patients like
Charlotte Langford, that energy responds better to tiny needles
than to medicine.
Tiny needles in
Langford's feet have worked wonders for the throbbing pain in her
"It's a pounding,
like somebody has a hammer and they are beating me in the top of
my head," she said.
Langford has suffered
with chronic headaches since she was a child and acupuncture is
the only treatment that has helped, she said.
"I know that
it has saved my life, and it really has," she said.
that the acupuncture results could have a major impact on the treatment
of chronic headaches, noting that medicine is often not effective
for people who suffer with this type of head pain.
In some cases, medicine
can actually make the headaches worse, which is called the "rebound
It is estimated
that 4 to 7 percent of Americans suffer with chronic headaches.
they plan to conduct a larger study in an effort to measure the
possible placebo effect.
Results of the study
are reported in the October issue of the journal Headache, which
is published by the American Headache Society. The study's lead
author is Coeytaux, an assistant professor in the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine's department of
Headache Society criteria for chronic tension-type headache are
headaches on 15 or more days a month (180 days per year), for at
least six months.
who were already receiving treatment in the Headache Clinic at UNC
Hospitals were recruited to participate in the study. To be eligible
for the study, a person had to suffer from headaches at least 15
days a month.
However, most participants
reported that they had headaches nearly every day.
One group of patients
in the study continued to receive standard medical care, while a
second group was randomly assigned to receive standard medical care,
in addition to a course of 10 acupuncture treatments during a six-week
treatments were administered by UNC's Dr. Wunian Chen, an instructor
in the department of family medicine who was trained in China in
the use of traditional Chinese acupuncture. These treatments took
place in the General Clinical Research Center at UNC Hospitals.
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