Headaches are often results of tension, stress, fatigue, toxicity, allergy, sinus problems and others. Frequent headaches (more than 1-2 per month) function as a warning that a problem is occurring in the body, and should be addressed immediately, to prevent worsening of the condition. Common treatments for headaches include the use of over-the-counter pain medicines (aspirin, excedrine, advil etc. ) Although occasional use of these products does not generally result in side effects, frequent use of NSAIDSs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can result in GI bleeding and stomach ulcers. Excessive use of Tylenol (acetaminaphen) can cause liver damage, especially in combination with alcohol.

Acupuncture treats the cause of the headache, often producing dramatic reduction in pain intensity and occurrence. Research consistently shows acupuncture to be an effective strategy for treating headaches, particularly tension and sinus headaches. Many studies even find acupuncture to be as effective for headache pain as the regular use of pharmaceutical intervention.

Migraines were once thought to be a result of vascular disorders (blood flow to the head). Other theories are related to nerve aggravation, depolarization in the brain, and abnormalities in serotonin levels. Regardless of the cause, migraines can range in intensity from extremely painful to completely debilitating. Common treatments include pain killers with barbiturates, and serotonin agonists. These medications have a potential for addiction, and Maxalt, a commonly prescribed drug for migraines, can result in cardiovascular side effect so the number of pills that can be taken per month is often limited.

Many migraine sufferers have triggers that precede a migraine. Many women notice migraines prior and during the menstrual cycle which indicates hormonal involvement. Other triggers include foods, stress, alcohol or caffeine, lack of sleep, bright lights, or allergies and strong scents. Many migraine patients find that dietary changes can greatly reduce the incidence of migraines. Maintaining regular sleep patterns is also very important.

A recent study found that a 6-week course of acupuncture is just as effective as 6-month prophylactic drug treatment, for migraine headaches.

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[5] Wang K, Svensson P, Arendt-Nielsen L Effect of acupuncture-like electrical stimulation on chronic tension-type headache: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Clin J Pain. 2007 May;23(4):316-22.