Richard G. Petty, MD

Acupuncture for Migraine

It was frustration at being unable to help so many people with migraine, that first lead me to begin my training in acupuncture. At the time I was working as a young research fellow in the main migraine clinic in London and I quickly discovered that acupuncture could be a wonderful treatment for many people suffering from this illness. I did my advanced training in acupuncture in China and even there – working with some of the best practitioners in the world – I confirmed my observation that acupuncture is no panacea. But it is a very helpful addition to our therapeutic toolbox.

There is a most interesting article in this week’s Lancet Neurology, that was also picked up by the BBC. The study came from Germany, and involved 960 patients who were randomly assigned to normal migraine medication treatment, traditional acupuncture, and sham – or fake – acupuncture. People in all three groups got better, and there was nothing to choose between the treatments in terms of efficacy.

So what does that mean? That acupuncture was in this trial as good as medications. But it adds to the growing literature that indicates that the precise placement of needles is not always as important as we used to think. But we also need to know exactly where the “sham” needling was done. During my years with the Research Council for Complementary Medicine and Prince Charles’ Foundation for Integrated Medicine, I saw a great many studies and proposals for studies in which the “sham” needles had actually been placed in highly active acupunctures points.

When I was training in China, most of my fellow students had trained in classical acupuncture in Europe, and some were outraged when they heard Chinese professors of acupuncture say that only some acupuncture points were always in the same place, and that it was not necessary to follow all the classical teachings. Some of the Europeans felt that the Chinese were destroying an ancient legacy. The Chinese simply responded by saying that the practice of acupuncture was being evolved on the basis of clinical observations and empirical research. It looks as if they were correct!

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About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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