Acupuncture in the Prophylactic Treatment of Migraine Without Aura: A Comparison with Flunarizine


Address all correspondence to Gianni Allais, MD, Woman's Headache Center, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Via Ventimiglia 3, 10126 Torino, Italy.


Objectives.—In a randomized controlled trial extending over 6 months, we evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture versus flunarizine in the prophylactic treatment of migraine without aura.

Methods.—One hundred sixty women with migraines were randomly assigned to acupuncture treatment (group A, n = 80) or to an oral therapy with flunarizine (group F, n = 80). In group A, acupuncture was carried out in weekly sessions for the first 2 months and then once a month for the next 4 months. The same acupoints were used at each treatment: LR3 Taichong, SP6 Sanyinjiao, ST36 Zusanli, CV12 Zhongwan, LI4 Hegu, PC6 Neiguan, GB20 Fengchi, GB14 Yangbai, EX-HN5 Taiyang, GV20 Baihui. In group F, 10 mg flunarizine were given daily for the first 2 months and then for 20 days per month for the next 4 months.

Results.—The frequency of attacks and use of symptomatic drugs significantly decreased during treatment in both groups. The number of attacks after 2 and 4 months of therapy was significantly lower in group A than in group F, and analgesic consumption was significantly lower in group A at 2 months of treatment. At 6 months no such differences existed between the two treatment groups. Pain intensity was significantly reduced only by acupuncture treatment. Side effects were significantly less frequent in group A.

Conclusions.—Acupuncture proved to be adequate for migraine prophylaxis. Relative to flunarizine, acupuncture treatment exhibited greater effectiveness in the first months of therapy and superior tolerability.