Traditional Acupuncture in Migraine: A Controlled, Randomized Study

Enrico Facco, MD; Aldo Liguori, MD; Filomena Petti, MD; Gastone Zanette, MD; Flaminia Coluzzi, MD; Marco De Nardin, MD; Consalvo Mattia, MD


Headache. 2008;48(3):398-407. 

In This Article


A total of 127 out of 160 patients completed the study, while the remaining 33 dropped out: 32 belonged to group TA (8 dropouts), 30 to group RMA (10 dropouts), 31 to group SMA (9 dropouts), and 34 to group R (6 dropouts) (Fig. 1). All the groups were homogeneous as regards sex and age ( Table 2 ). Patients' rating according to TCM ( Table 3 ), an essential step to choose the appropriate treatment with classical acupuncture, showed that 53 cases (41.7%) belonged to external syndromes, while the so-called “excess of liver yang,” including 49 cases (38.7%), was the most relevant single subset.

Figure 1.

Trial flow diagram.

The MIDAS Index (MI) before treatment (T0) was moderate to severe with no significant intergroup differences. Each group underwent a decrease of MI at T1 and T2, with a significant difference at both T1 and T2 compared to T0 (P < .0001): the difference was significant for groups (P < .0001), time (P < .0001) and the interaction groups/time (P < .001) ( Table 4 ).

TA showed a significant improvement of MI at both T1 and T2 compared to R, while RMA underwent a significant MI decrease at T1 only ( Table 4 ). The MI trend can be better observed in Figure 2: group TA showed a steady decrease of mean MI from 22.2 to about 2.2;group RMA underwent a transient decrease of MI from T0 to T1 and a subsequent increase from T1 to T2, while SMA showed the same trend as group R. In short, TA proved to be the only treatment able to provide a steady outcome improvement in comparison to the use of Rizatriptan only, while RMA provided a transient significant placebo effect at T1.

Figure 2.

Follow-up of migraine treated with acupuncture or placebo. At T1 both TA and RMA show a significant improvement of MIDAS Index compared to R; at T2, TA only proves to be better than R (*P < .0001)

The interaction between time and groups showed a significant change of Rizatriptan intake from T1 to T2 (P < .0001) ( Table 5 ). Only TA showed a significantly lower Rizatriptan intake at both T1 and T2 compared to R (P < .0001), as well as a significant decrease of intake from T1 to T2 (P < .0001). RMA showed a significantly lower Rizatriptan intake compared to R at T1, but underwent an increase from T1 to T2, when it was within the range of SMA and R. The Rizatriptan intake paralleled the MI in all groups.


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