The results of controlled trials of acupuncture for migraines have been consistent. Acupuncture is significantly better than no treatment/basic care for managing migraine while still being cost-effective.
A migraine is thought to begin as an electrical phenomenon in the cerebrum that then affects blood vessels, biochemistry, and causes neurogenic inflammation.
- Acupuncture can help in the treatment of migraine. Acupuncture provides pain relief when stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurochumoral factors. This can change the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord through increased activity in the sympathetic nervous system
- Acupuncture reduces inflammation by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors which have the ability to alter or regulate immune functions.
- Acupuncture reduces the degree of cortical spreading depression, an electrical wave in the brain associated with migraine. It also reduces the plasma levels of calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P which play an important role in pain.
- Acupuncture can change the extracranial (the outside of the skull) and intracranial (inside the skull) blood flow.
- Acupuncture affects serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin may be linked to the initiation of migraines; 5-HT agonists (triptans) are used against acute attacks. The serotonin receptors are the target of a variety of pharmaceutical drugs, including antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-migraine agents, hallucinogens, etc. . The serotonin receptors influence various biological and neurological processes such as cognition and mood.