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A sham-controlled trial of acupuncture as an adjunct in migraine prophylaxis
  1. Mohsen Foroughipour1,
  2. Amir Reza Golchian2,3,
  3. Mohsen Kalhor1,
  4. Saeed Akhlaghi4,
  5. Mohammad Taghi Farzadfard1,
  6. Hoda Azizi5,6
  1. 1Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran
  2. 2Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Clinic, Imam Reza Hospital, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran
  3. 3International School, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, China
  4. 4Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran
  5. 5Department of Chinese and Complementary Medicine, School of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran
  6. 6Chinese and Complementary Medicine Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran
  1. Correspondence to Dr Amir Reza Golchian, Department of Integrative Medicine, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, No 11 Bei San Huan Dong Lu, Beijing 100029, China; amirgol67{at}


Background Migraine is one of the most common types of headache, with significant socioeconomic effects. Prophylactic drugs are used to prevent migraine headaches but are unpromising.

Objective To assess the effects of adding acupuncture to conventional migraine prophylaxis.

Methods One hundred patients with migraine (41 male, 59 female), in whom prophylactic drugs had not produced a fall of at least 50% in the number of attacks, entered the study. The patients were randomised into two groups, sham and true acupuncture. The patients in both groups continued their prophylactic treatment and received 12 sessions of either true or sham acupuncture. Each session was 30 min and was repeated three times a week. The number of headaches in the two groups was compared at baseline, and at the end of four successive months.

Results There was no significant difference in the frequency of attacks between the two groups before intervention. After 1 month, the frequency of attacks each month decreased from 5.1 (0.8) to 3.4 (1.2) in the true acupuncture group, and from 5.0 (0.8) to 4.4 (1.1) in the sham acupuncture group (a significant difference, p<0.001). The frequency continued to decrease in month 2 but increased in months 3 and 4; however, it was still significantly lower than baseline, and the difference remained significant after month 4.

Conclusions Acupuncture is applicable as an adjunct to prophylactic drugs in migraineurs in whom the number of attacks does not fall with prophylactic medication.

  • Acupuncture
  • Complementary Medicine

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