Migraines Only Slightly Improved With Acupuncture Compared to ‘Sham,’ Study Indicates

It’s probably worth admitting up front that I have very little belief in or patience for things like acupuncture, and the minute you start talking about blocked fields of vague energy, you kind of lose me.

Still, polite society requires that when someone tells you that their chronic back pain, depression or infertility was alleviated by someone in a red-lanterned strip mall joint next to a nail salon and that sticking pins into them cured it, you basically have to smile, nod and pretend you believe such a thing is plausible. However, it may come as no surprise to you that a recent data weighing prophylactic pills against standard acupuncture and “sham” acupuncture, and found negligible benefits distinguishing the latter two.

Actual acupuncture had an edge in the results over the fake kind, but a tiny one. Studies involving 500 patients included three kinds of genuine acupuncture (Shaoyang specific, Shaoyang nonspecific, Yangming specific) and found that all three produced “statically significant” reductions in migraine episodes in the final month of the four-month-long study, but that the actual difference amounted to only one fewer attack during the four-week period.

Albrecht Molsberger, MD, of Ruhr University Bochum in Germany, said that what the study revealed is that “sham” acupuncture is about as effective as the real thing- he writes:

“Chinese acupuncture points and non-Chinese points (sham) both have an effect, and there is not much difference between the different schools of acupuncture.”

Have you experienced significant benefits from acupuncture treatment? Do you think Western medicine is too dismissive of the therapy?

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