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.