Acupuncture Reduces Tension Headaches

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Nov 01, 2005

Acupuncture effectively relieves headaches, according to a controlled, randomized trial published online, July 29, in the British Medical Journal (2005; 10.1136/bmj.38512.405440.8F). The study’s aim was to determine whether acupuncture could ease headaches and should qualify for routine reimbursement by health insurance companies in Germany.

Researchers tested three options: traditional acupuncture; minimal acupuncture, in which a few needles were placed on meaningless points; and no treatment. While the traditional acupuncture group experienced the most improvement, participants who received the minimal acupuncture also enjoyed some relief. Investigators are not sure why. One suggestion is that acupuncture even at inaccurate points still alters circulation and stimulates release of natural pain relievers; another possibility is that acupuncture has a high placebo effect. Additional studies are needed to find out more.

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© 2005 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at