Migraine Treatment: Hypnotherapy, Acupuncture or Medication?

In my last blog I wrote about research into the effectiveness of hypnosis for the management of  headache and migraine. The researcher in that report concluded their systematic review by saying, "This study has demonstrated that hypnosis has a significant impact on the pain activity of individuals suffering with migraines and supports the findings of several double-blind, placebo controlled studies that have demonstrated hypnosis to be statistically superior or equivalent to commonly used treatments."

Which is, of course, great news and evidence for those with migraine who are seeking help and treatment or who are finding their current treatment programme isn't as effective as they would wish.

In August 2018, another study that discussed migraine and hypnotherapy was also published in addition to the one I discussed in the previous blog article.

This report compared the efficacy of acupuncture, hypnotherapy and pharmacotherapy in patients with migraine. The study divided 90 patients into three groups: one group was treated with acupuncture, another with hypnotherapy and the third with medication. 

Migraine: Hypnotherapy, Acupuncture & Pharmacotherapy

During the study, the acupuncture only group had 10 acupuncture sessions, the hypnotherapy group had ten hypnosis sessions and the pharmacotherapy group were administered medication by a neurology clinic.

Each participant completed questionaires that assessed their pain levels and disability due to migraine (e.g. the number of days lost to migraine). 

In the study, the migraine suffered reported improvement with acupuncture, hypnotherapy and pharmacotherapy. Better results were obtained with acupuncture and hypnotherapy when compared to pharmacotherapy and both were effective when used alone.

As the researchers concluded,

"This study showed that acupuncture and hypnotherapy alone were effective for the treatment of migraine headaches. Acupuncture and hypnotherapy were more beneficial when compared to pharmacotherapy."

As I said above, great research-backed news for people who suffer with migraine who are seeking evidence-backed ways to pursue treatment. 

Of course, this is also of great interest to those hypnotherapists amongst us who seek to support and develop our work with solid evidence. And it should perhaps come as no surprise given the wealth of research that has demonstrated that hypnosis can beneficially help in many aspects of pain management. 

Recently I was reading a book by a leading peer in the hypnotherapy field, someone whom I have met and respect greatly, yet it saddened me that in the first few pages he casually dismissed evidence and research and instead relied on anecdote. Now of course no field of psychology (or indeed other scientific disciplines) has all the answers and all the research it could ever wish for. Yet, surely as professionals we should be seeking to draw upon the methodology and findings from research and evidence to improve our work? Certainly I think so and I believe that part of the reason for all the feedback you can read on my website is because of such research feeding into my work for the benefit of clients.

Whinge over! The key thing here is the potential benefit that is available to those with migraine who pursue evidence backed treatment options. Having such knowledge available to you can only be a good thing, right?

To your success,

Dan Regan

Hynpotherapy Ely and Newmarket 

Reference: Kenan Tastan, Ozlem Ozer Disci & Turan Set (2018) A Comparison of the Efficacy of Acupuncture and Hypnotherapy in Patients With Migraine, International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 66:4, 371-385, DOI: 10.1080/00207144.2018.1494444