Have you ever seen the commercial where the little green monster is beating drums above a woman’s head as she cowers in pain? If you have ever experienced a migraine, then you know that’s how it can feel. Migraines are chronic headaches that may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines are very painful and can last for minutes, hours, or even days. If you are seeking a natural approach to prevent and relieve migraines, you should consider the practice used by the Chinese for centuries — acupuncture.
Acupuncture is based on the theory that all illnesses occur when the body’s natural flow of energy or qi (pronounced chee) becomes stuck, depleted, or weakened. Traditional acupuncturists believe that energy flows along meridians in the body and placing extremely thin needles into the skin at strategic points along those meridians re-balances the body and allows it to heal itself. Western practitioners, however, believe that the meridians are actually locations where nerves, muscles, and connective tissue can be stimulated resulting in increased blood flow and the release of the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals. Whichever is the case, acupuncture has been proven effective in treating a variety of ailments including fibromyalgia, back pain, osteoarthritis, menstrual cramps, and migraines.
A study conducted in Italy compared the effectiveness of acupuncture to drug therapy in treating migraines. Their results revealed that the patients who received acupuncture experienced fewer migraines and missed fewer days from work compared to patients on drug therapy. They also found that acupuncture produced no dangerous side effects and was more cost-efficient than drug therapy.
Although, being poked with needles may sound more painful than a migraine, acupuncture is actually quite painless. You barely feel the needles going in. The acupuncturist may leave the needles in the body for a while, usually about thirty minutes. He or she may also place warm heat over your body for the duration of the treatment. (I usually fall asleep.) Acupuncture therapy may also be combined with accupressure, in which the pressure points are stimulated through massage.
There is very little risk involved with acupuncture treatment when administered by a competent, certified acupuncture practitioner. Most states require non-physician acupuncturists to pass an exam conducted by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Since many medical insurance plans cover acupuncture treatment, your doctor may be able to give you a referral.
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