Acupuncture helps headaches, even when 'faked'

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Acupuncture helps headaches, even when 'faked'
« on: 21/01/2009 19:35:10 »
Acupuncture helps headaches, even when 'faked'

Updated Tue. Jan. 20 2009 7:09 PM ET News Staff

Acupuncture helps prevent headaches and migraines, suggests two new research reviews, which also found the treatment effective even when needles are incorrectly used.

Researchers conducting a review of 33 clinical trials found that acupuncture helps prevent both tension headaches and migraines.

However, the review also found that faked treatments - when needles were not properly inserted - were just as, or only slightly less, effective.

"Much of the clinical benefit of acupuncture might be due to non-specific needling effects and powerful placebo effects, meaning selection of specific needle points may be less important than many practitioners have traditionally argued," lead researcher Klaus Linde, of the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research at the Technical University of Munich, said in a statement.

The reviews are published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, which compiles and analyzes medical research from around the world.

The trials in the review showed that, following at least eight weeks of treatment, patients who received acupuncture had fewer headaches than patients who were only given painkillers. In these studies, fake acupuncture was only slightly less effective than the real thing.

In studies of acupuncture's effectiveness at preventing migraines, acupuncture was again more beneficial than drug treatment. In these studies, the reviews' authors found fake acupuncture to be just as effective.

The findings suggest that acupuncture may be a safe alternative headache treatment for patients who do not want to take conventional medication, the authors said.

However, studies still need to evaluate the long-term efficacy of acupuncture, they said, and whether or not better acupuncture techniques will produce better results.