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Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
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Holistic Treatment for Candida Infection
Acupuncture Cuts Dry Mouth in Cancer Patients
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
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BONES & JOINTS
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Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
CANCER
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Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
Yoga Eases Sleep Problems Among Cancer Survivors
CAREGIVING
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New Guidelines for Treating Heart Failure
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
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Night Shift Work Hard on the Heart
COSMETIC
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DENTAL, ORAL
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
DIABETES
Poor Blood Sugar Control After Heart Surgery Impacts Outcomes
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Indian Spice May Thwart Liver Damage
Is Coffee Good or Bad for Your Health?
Atkins Diet Tougher on Heart After Weight Loss
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Improved Fungicides May Be Easier on Environment
FDA Faulted for Stance on Chemical in Plastics
Exposure to 9/11 Fumes Tied to Chronic Headaches
EYE CARE, VISION
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
FITNESS
Vigorous Exercise Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Vitamin D Best Taken With Largest Meal of Day, Study Finds
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
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Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
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Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
Whole Grains Lower Risk of Heart Failure
Fish Oil Supplements Help With Heart Failure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
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Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
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KID'S HEALTH
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Family Medicine Cabinet Top Source Of Kid's Poisonings
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
MEN'S HEALTH
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Countdown to Hair Loss
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MENTAL HEALTH
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Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
PAIN
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Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
Nighttime Urination Linked to Higher Death Rate Among Elderly
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
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Needling Away Your Headaches With Acupuncture



Do you suffer from chronic headaches? Acupuncture treatment may help.

Studies show that this ancient Chinese healing technique may help relieve many types of pain, including some headaches.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, health is achieved by keeping the body in a balanced state. Practitioners believe disease is due to an imbalance of "qi" (pronounced "chee"), or energy force in the body. A blockage in the flow of qi, they say, can lead to disease and pain. In good health, qi is believed to flow freely through certain pathways known as meridians. Acupuncture points are found along these meridians.

What is involved?
Acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into specific points on your meridians. Stimulating these points is thought to aid the body's natural healing abilities.

The needles used are tiny and hair-thin. Most people feel little or no pain when they are inserted. Some say they feel energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed.

If you struggle with chronic headaches, acupuncture therapy may help. Among complementary treatments for pain management, acupuncture is one of the most widely used and well accepted by doctors.

Effect on migraines and tension headaches
Results from 33 trials involving over 6,000 people compared the use of acupuncture to medication. The findings showed that:

* Almost half of those treated with acupuncture plus pain medicine said it at least halved the number of tension and migraine headaches they got over an average of three months.
* Those treated with only acupuncture (no drugs) had fewer tension and migraine headaches than people who were given medication. They also reported fewer side effects.
* Another long-term study of people with headaches showed that acupuncture treatments led to fewer missed work days, less need for medication and fewer visits to the doctor.

When "fake" or "sham" acupuncture was compared to acupuncture done in the correct manner, the results were mixed:

* Several studies were done for prevention of muscle contraction headaches. They showed that people who were given the correct treatment had statistically fewer headaches than those who got the fake acupuncture.
* The results were not as clear for migraine headache sufferers. People in both groups - those who got the real and the "sham" acupuncture - reported about the same reduction in headaches.

Experts say the pain relief from the sham treatment may be due to the hands-on, repetitive stimulus of the needles. It may also be because people believe acupuncture works. This is known as the placebo effect.

Is acupuncture safe?
Talk to your doctor about acupuncture before you try it. It is usually safe in the hands of a licensed and qualified practitioner. Soreness or pain could result if the needle isn't placed properly, is defective or if you move during the treatment. If not done properly, you could also suffer an infection or damage to internal organs. Always be sure that the practitioner is using an unopened set of sterile, disposable, one-use needles.

Acupuncture therapy is becoming widely available. You may find it offered at your local hospital, at a pain center or through a neurologist. Ask your doctor for a referral. As with any treatment, talk to your doctor if your symptoms persist or get worse after this therapy.

SOURCES:

* American Academy of Medical Acupuncture. NCCAM acupuncture information resources. Accessed: 02/23/2009

* National Guideline Clearinghouse. Assessment and management of chronic pain. Accessed: 02/23/2009

* Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Manheimer E, Vickers A, White AR. Acupuncture for tension-type headache. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2009. Accessed: 02/23/2009

* Patel G, Euler D, Audette JF. Complementary and alternative medicine for noncancer pain. Medical Clinics of North America. 2007;91(1):141-167. Accessed: 02/23/2009

* National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. An introduction to acupuncture. Accessed: 02/23/2009

* Jena S, Witt CM, Brinkhaus B, Wegscheider K, Willich SN. Acupuncture in patients with headaches. Cephalalgia. 2008;28(9):969-979. Accessed: 02/23/2009