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Can acupuncture, massages and herbal remedies relieve migraines?

Expert:   Joshua Cohen, M.D., M.P.H. , St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center »

According to Chinese medicine, the needles balance a person's "qi" [KEE], or life force. But will they cure that migraine pain? Watch this to find out!

Transcript: Researchers have conducted MANY studies on the effectiveness of alternative migraine treatments. Acupuncture, massages and herbal remedies have each been found to be useful in many—but not ALL--- studies. But, it doesn’t hurt to give them a try. ACUPUNCTURE practitioners treat migraine patients by inserting needles into specific points on the body. According to Chinese medicine, the needles balance a person’s “qi” [KEE], or life force. Clinical trials HAVE shown that this ancient therapy CAN relieve or prevent migraine. Whether it works by placebo, stress relief, or some biological process is not known. Massages may also relieve migraine headaches. Additional research needs to be done, but one way that massages and reflexology can help is that they Help treat muscle spasms which can serve as trigger points for migraine. Another possible benefit? Manual therapy could alleviate STRESS and INSOMNIA, which in turn may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Taking a BUTTERBUR supplement is another possible therapy to relieve migraine pain. This herb may reduce the regularity and duration of migraine attacks. But pregnant women should AVOID it, and you should DEFINITELY consult with your doctor before you try it to make sure it won’t adversely interact with any other medications you are taking. In fact, you should talk with your doctor before trying ANY of these alternative therapies. Other non-pharmacological options you may discuss include riboflavin or magnesium tablets, or biofeedback, hypnosis or progressive muscle relaxation. Even if these alternatives are successful, don’t get rid of your prescription meds. You’ll still need them to treat SEVERE headaches. More »

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