Kate was recently a guest on ITV's The Alan Titchmarsh Show talking about the benefits of Acupuncture for migraines.
She also gave a live acupuncture treatment on a patient whose life has been debilitated by migraines. Watch the show (Wed 29 Jan) on ITV player www.itv.com/itvplayer/
Here Kate answers your questions about how Acupuncture helps migraine sufferers.
What are Migraines?
A migraine is usually a severe headache felt as a throbbing pain at the front or on one side of the head. Some people also have other symptoms, such as nausea and sensitivity to light. Hormones may be the reason why migraines affect more women than men.
For example, some women find that migraine attacks are more frequent around the time of their period. Migraines usually begin in young adults. Some people have attacks frequently, up to several times a week. Other people only have a migraine occasionally. Migraines can severely affect your quality of life. During and after a migraine, some people need to stay in bed for days at a time.
How does acupuncture help migraines?
The debilitating nature of migraines and the quite strong medication that is required to treat them is what brings many people to my clinic to try acupuncture.
Studies consistently show that acupuncture is effective in two ways:
- Firstly, acupuncture treatment provides pain relief during a migraine
- Secondly, acupuncture prevents future migraines by stimulating the body’s natural healing process. In fact acupuncture is shown to be as effective as migraine medication, (beta-blockers or anti-seizure medication), but being a natural treatment, it avoids the unpleasant side effects.
How does acupuncture work?
Science now believes that acupuncture works by stimulating nerves, muscles and chemicals in the brain and it is this response that brings about the beneficial effects.
There are some really interesting brain scans that show strong positive changes in brain activity after an acupuncture treatment (stimulating pain relief for example).
I have a thorough consultation with the patient to understand exactly what is causing them to have migraines. Stress and exhaustion are common triggers I see in my clinic.
During an attack: I use needles to stimulate pain relief hormones in the body and affect the blood flow in the brain – something which has been linked to migraines.
Between migraines: I will see a patient on a weekly basis and work on the underlying causes for their migraines. I strengthen their resistance to their particular triggers (ie balancing hormones, reducing stress) making them less prone to a migraine attack.
Patients’ migraines start to become less frequent and less intense. Eventually they become a thing of the past which really is life changing.
Acupuncture on the NHS
NICE, the body which approves treatment on the NHS, recommends that GPs send patients for a course of 10 acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture is cost-effective – migraines cost the NHS £20m a year.