Harvard Health Blog: Acupuncture for Headache

Posted On: February 12th, 2018

Helene Langevin, MD; Carolyn Bernstein, MD FAHS

Harvard Health Blog: Acupuncture for Headache

Drs. Helene Langevin, Osher Center Director, and Carolyn Bernstein, Neurologist at the Osher Clinic, contributed to an articled in Harvard Health Blog titled, “Acupuncture for Headache”. Some topics covered in this article are: how do we know if acupuncture works for pain and finding a balanced view on acupuncture research.

Learn why Dr. Langevin and Dr. Bernstein have concluded that “we need to recognize that acupuncture can be part of the solution to the immense problem of chronic pain and opiate addiction that is gripping our society. That this solution comes from an ancient practice with a theoretical foundation incompletely understood by modern science should make it even more interesting and worthy of our attention”.

It is easy to ridicule a 2000-year-old treatment that can seem closer to magic than to science. Indeed, from the 1970s to around 2005, the skeptic’s point of view was understandable, because the scientific evidence to show that acupuncture worked, and why, was weak, and clinical trials were small and of poor quality.

But things have changed since then. A lot.

Thanks to the development of valid placebo controls (for example, a retractable “sham” device that looks like an acupuncture needle but does not penetrate the skin), and the publication of several large and well-designed clinical trials in the last decade, we have the start of a solid foundation for truly understanding the effectiveness of acupuncture.

Read More