Acupuncture for Migraine: A Systematic Review of Chinese Literature



Acupuncture for Migraine: A Systematic Review of Chinese Literature






Research Type

Systematic Review



Introduction: Acupuncture is widely used for the treatment of migraine, but its effectiveness is inconclusive based on findings of two recent systematic reviews. However, these reviews included very few studies conducted in Asian countries. Research papers published in Chinese are yet to be reviewed to determine their role in the overall understanding of the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for migraine. Objectives: Is acupuncture more effective than no treatment, sham/placebo acupuncture, or as effective as other interventions for migraine? Methods: Search Strategies: Electronic search was performed in the two most comprehensive Chinese e-databases, Vi Pu and Wan Fang. Keywords used were a combination of acupuncture, headache, migraine, Chinese medicine, electroacupuncture and point-stimulation. Selection Criteria: Randomized, controlled trials comparing acupuncture with any type of control interventions and reporting at least one of the clinically related outcome measures for migraine were selected. Data Collection and Analysis: Characteristics of the studies were extracted by two independent reviewers. Reporting quality and validity were assessed using the Jadad Scale, Internal Validity Scale and Oxford Pain Validity Scale. STRICTA was used to assess the reporting quality of acupuncture treatment. RevMan 4.2 was used for data analysis. Results: Seventeen studies with a total of 2097 participants (median 91; range 62-216) met the inclusion criteria. Ten studies compared acupuncture alone with western medications. The remaining seven trials compared a combined therapy of acupuncture and other therapies with western medications. None of the studies compared acupuncture with no-treatment control or sham/placebo acupuncture. None of the 17 studies was considered of high quality. Studies indicated that acupuncture alone was superior to western medications (RR 1.55, 95% CI 1.27 to 1.88). In comparison to studies included in the other two reviews, the Chinese studies in this review had a larger sample size and acupuncture treatments were more frequent. Conclusion: There is moderate evidence that acupuncture is more effective than western pharmacotherapy. Due to the poor quality and validity of included studies, this conclusion requires further assessment. Data from Chinese literature should be included in future systematic reviews.

Number of Participants

2097 participants, 17 RCTs

has health condition studied

Headache Disorders

Item sets