In a journal editorial accompanying the study, Dr. Albrecht Molsberger of Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, said acupuncture should be a first-line treatment of migraines along with other non-drug therapies such as biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy and lifestyle changes.
"It is at least as effective as [preventive] drug therapy, has longer lasting effects, is safe, seems to be cost-effective and reduces drug intake with possibly severe unwanted effects," Molsberger wrote. "All of this can be achieved even if [acupuncture] point selection is not as dogmatic and precise as proposed by the Chinese system."
Dr. Noah Rosen, director of the Headache Center at Cushing Neuroscience Institute in Manhasset, N.Y., said the frequency of acupuncture treatments in the study -- averaging five per week -- wouldn't likely be replicated in the United States, where one or two treatments per week would be closer to the norm.
"What was interesting about this study was looking at the different styles of acupuncture and showing that the different styles were fairly equivalent to each other," Rosen said. "One of the things that's difficult for me is figuring out exactly how it applies to the care people receive in the U.S. . . . and that type of intensive treatment is rarely seen in my patients here. If we want to follow the model in this study, it would be very difficult time-wise and financially, I'm sure."
The U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has more about acupuncture.
SOURCES: Gayatri Devi, M.D., attending neurologist, department of medicine, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Noah Rosen, M.D., director, Headache Center, Cushing Neuroscience Institute, Manhasset, N.Y.; Jan. 9, 2012, Ca
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