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  • Writer's pictureDr. Hannah Zeleznikar

Acupuncture for Migraines: A Modern Scientific Perspective

Migraines are a complex neurological issue that impact every aspect of daily life. Anyone who has experienced migraines understands the havoc they wreak on quality of life. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine recognize that each person experiences migraines due to different underlying issues, so each treatment is entirely unique. While the exact mechanisms behind how acupuncture works to improve migraines from a modern scientific perspective are not fully understood, there are several theories that are well-studied:

  1. Nervous System Regulation: Acupuncture influences the autonomic nervous system, which plays a role in regulating blood flow, muscle tension, and pain perception. By balancing the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous systems, acupuncture may help reduce the triggers and symptoms of migraines.

  2. Endorphin Release: Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers produced by the body. By increasing endorphin levels, acupuncture may help reduce the perception of pain associated with migraines.

  3. Blood Flow Improvement: Studies suggest that acupuncture can improve blood flow to the brain. Migraines are often associated with changes in blood flow and vascular dilation, so enhancing circulation may help alleviate migraine symptoms.

  4. Neurotransmitter Modulation: Acupuncture may influence the release and balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters play a role in mood regulation and pain perception, and their imbalances are often associated with migraines.

  5. Muscle Relaxation: Tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper back muscles can trigger migraines or make them worse. Acupuncture may help relax these muscles, reducing the tension and alleviating migraine-related discomfort.

  6. Stress Reduction: Chronic stress is a common migraine trigger. Acupuncture sessions are often accompanied by a sense of relaxation, which can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. This relaxation response may contribute to the prevention or reduction of migraines.

Again, it is important to note that each patient has unique underlying imbalances, and each acupuncture treatment is tailored to the individual.

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