Acupuncture for Headaches & Migraines

Robin Burby MATCM MBAcC

Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, Halos Centre of Complementary Healthcare, Oxted 


Acupuncture can be an unusual approach to helping with headaches, whilst there has always been a lot of anecdotal evidence for its effectiveness a recent Cochrane review concluded that: 

(acupuncture) …provides additional benefit to treatment of acute migraine attacks only or to routine care. There is no evidence for an effect of ’true’ acupuncture over sham interventions, though this is difficult to interpret, as exact point location could be of limited importance. Available studies suggest that acupuncture is at least as effective as, or possibly more effective than, prophylactic drug treatment, and has fewer adverse effects. Acupuncture should be considered a treatment option for patients willing to undergo this treatment.” 

As a professional my understanding of acupuncture has changed so much since graduating from my initial degrees, where I have learnt new theories, new strategies, new points locations that my opinion today is that all acupuncture is effective and it’s my job to see which theory fits best for each unique patient I treat.  What works for one patient is definitely not the answer for everyone!

However, the study hows acupuncture is at least as effective as routine drug treatment – if we can stimulate the body’s own healing mechanisms without pharmaceuticals we can avoid any of the side effects associated and achieve pain relief and prevent against relapse – brilliant! 

To me the Cochrane review supports that acupuncture should be considered a treatment OPTION for willing patients – I think acupuncture is amazing, and I’ve dedicated my life to the study of it, but I know that it’s not right for everyone (the studies reviewed showed no statistical significance between true and sham acupuncture points), however, I know from personal experience treating hundreds of patients with migraines that it really does make a difference to many people, some even go so far as to say they’re cured! 

In both 2012 and 2015 NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, recommends that the NHS offers up to 10 sessions of acupuncture over 5-8 weeks for the prophylactic treatment of tension-type headaches and migraines (with or without auras)[1]  Your GP will be able to obtain funding for acupuncture treatment – they just have to apply for each individual case. 

If you’re suffering from migraines then why not give us a call at Halos Clinic on 01883 713 434 where we can tell you more about this treatment as well as other ways which it can be funded. 


[1]Headaches in over 12s: diagnosis and management (2012 updated 2015) NICE guideline CG150