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Acupuncture Reduces Tension Headaches

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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Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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