A small Italian is the first to suggest that acupuncture can interrupt cluster headaches. Cluster headaches are excruciating attacks of pain in one side of the head, often felt behind the eye. Sufferers often call them ‘suicidal headaches’ because they’re so severe.
Study design and protocol.
Four patients with cluster headaches were treated with acupuncture as a preventive treatment, either combined with the calcium channel blocking drug verapamil, or alone. All patients received acupuncture treatment twice a week for two weeks, then once per week for eight weeks, and then once every other week. Points were selected according to traditional Chinese medicine: Taiyang (M-HN-9) and Yangbai GB-14 on the affected side only, and Fengchi GB-20, Hegu L.I.-4, Xingjiang LIV-2, Sanyinjiao SP-6 and Zusanli ST-36 bilaterally.
At each point, after the insertion of the needle, the feeling of “De Qi” was evoked; after obtaining this sensation the acupoints were not further stimulated for a period of 20 min, until their extraction.
Results and conclusions
In all patients an interruption of cluster attacks was obtained. According to researchers:
This is the first report concerning acupuncture in cluster headache patients which details the protocol approach, acupoints and duration of the treatment. Our results offer the opportunity to discuss the emerging role of acupuncture in the therapy of CH, assuming a possible influence on opioid system.