Treating Headaches with Acupuncture

Treating Headaches with Acupuncture

Headaches and migraines can be a common problem for many. What many people don’t realise is that there are many different reasons we might experience a headache. Some people are more prone to headaches than others, and there are of course a plethora of different places on the head we might experience pain, as well as a number of root causes. From tension headaches triggered by stress to migraines, hormone headaches, sinus headaches, ones caused by dehydration, and even Covid headaches*.

Whatever type of headache you tend to suffer with, when it comes to the head, it’s always best to speak to your GP first before you embark on a new complementary and alternative medicines. Especially if the headaches are ongoing or start to happen suddenly. Many GPs do indeed recommend acupuncture for headaches but sometimes it’s good to rule out any other health conditions.

Reassuringly, when it comes to research, there’s a significant amount of evidence to suggest that acupuncture is the most effective in treating headaches. In other words, when it comes to treating headaches – acupuncture is one of the most effective cures.

In fact, NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) is an advocate for acupuncture when it comes to the treatment of headaches. In particular, this reputable organisation recognised by the NHS, confirms that acupuncture is a good way to prevent tension-type headaches and migraine.

It can be easy to turn to paracetamol to soothe a headache, however, overuse of painkillers can cause further headaches and this pattern can be a problem for around one in fifty people. There is now also consistent evidence that shows how acupuncture offers a host of extra benefit when treating headaches too.

Triggers For Headaches

There are a wide variety of triggers for headaches including:

  • Diet
  • Stress
  • Lack of water
  • Alcohol intake
  • Environment
  • Hormones e.g. peri-menopause, menopause and different stages of your cycle
  • Too much or too little caffeine (depending on how used to caffeine your body is)
  • Not enough sleep
  • Overworking
  • Excess sex
  • External Pathogenic factors e.g. catching a cold or similar virus
  • Accidents/trauma
  • Childbirth

How Does Acupuncture for Headaches Work?

Here at Treat we have several acupuncturists who can help to treat headaches. During a session of acupuncture for headaches, your acupuncturist will place needles in various pressure points including those on your head and neck, and sometimes in other parts of the body too. These needles help your body to release endorphins and other hormones, accelerating the circulatory system, which is why, in part, the acupuncture point can help to weaken headache pain.

Migraines and Acupuncture

Perhaps surprisingly, more than one billion people globally experience migraines.  The Natural Library of Medicine** considers acupuncture to be an option for the “first-line treatment of migraine to supplement other non-pharmacologic treatment options”. The study also proves that acupuncture for treatment of migraines is at least as effective as prophylactic drug therapy and has longer lasting effects. They report it to be safe, cost-effective and reduces drug intake with fewer severe unwanted effects.

Another study published by the British Medical Journal*** states that although almost 90% of people suffering from frequent migraines have no effective treatment to prevent these kinds of headaches, acupuncture provides a useful additional tool in your therapeutic armoury. This same study helps to move acupuncture from having an unproven status in complementary medicine to an acceptable evidence-based treatment.

Other Ways to Support Headaches:

There’s a range of ‘headache hygiene’ you can also try to prevent or reduce the symptoms or length of headaches. Why not try…

  • Traditional Chinese medicine also encourages practices like Tai Chi, Qi Gong, meditation, deep breathing exercises and mindfulness
  • Look to see if you can reduce any working hours, if you are overworking
  • Incorporating whole grains may help to manage headaches
  • Boosting your fruit and vegetable intake may also help
  • As well as eating healthy fats (avoiding low-fat products)
  • Reducing salt intake
  • Staying hydrated
  • Trying scented oils such as lavender, peppermint, rosemary, eucalyptus and chamomile. Explore other aromatherapy oils with a qualified aromatherapist as some are contraindicated for certain conditions
  • Keep warm in the winter, wrap up and eat warm foods to prevent of colds and winter bugs.

You might also like to check out our autumn wellness blog here, which talks about ways to manage your health as you transition from summer into autumn and winter.

About Treat

Did you know that Treat has four acupuncturists? Treat is a Norwich-based Health & Wellbeing Clinic. providing a wide range of therapies as well as a community multi-bed clinic, which works out to be more affordable!

You’ll also find a diverse range of other Treat therapists offer over 50 different health, wellbeing and beauty therapies.


2-4 Lawson Rd




* Blog post about Covid.

** The role of acupuncture in the treatment of migraine.

*** Acupuncture can reduce migraines headaches.