A recent meta-analysis of 19 randomised controlled trials (adding up to 3656 patients) has shown that acupuncture is superior to the drugs propranolol, topiramate, , metoprolol, and funarizine in reducing the frequency of migraines. This is no surprise to me; in my clinical experience the one condition which responds most favourably to acupuncture treatment is migraine, and indeed the improvement can sometimes be dramatic – I have seen patients who have been plagued by frequent debilitating migraines become migraine-free for weeks and months on end after a short course of treatment.
Why migraine so often responds so well to acupuncture I am not entirely sure, but in part I suspect it may be because of acupuncture’s ability to relax muscle tension and in particular to disperse trigger points (small tight knots of tension in muscle tissue which can cause significant pain). I usually find that migraine sufferers are holding a lot of tension in their neck and shoulders, and whether this is the result of their migraines or a partial cause of them, releasing this tension can start to have very positive effects. Muscular tension, indeed, seems to be a neglected cause of lots of health issues, from migraine and headache to irritable bowel syndrome. A hands-on approach using modalities such as acupuncture and massage is often a much better option that drugs, especially when you think of the side effects that often accompany them. Hi-tech modern medicine is wonderful in many ways, but it underestimates the healing power of hands (whether those hands are holding needles or simply massaging tight musculature.)
Acupuncture versus propranolol in migraine prophylaxis: an indirect treatment comparison meta-analysis. J Neurol. 2019 Aug 21
Here is some of the latest news on acupuncture and related things, perhaps with a few of my thoughts thrown in for good measure.