Carthami-Semen acupuncture point injection for chronic daily headache: a pilot, randomised, double-blind, controlled trial

Complement Ther Med. 2011 Jan:19 Suppl 1:S19-25. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2010.09.004. Epub 2010 Oct 12.


Objectives: This study was conducted to examine the possibility of Carthami-Semen (CS, Safflower seed) acupuncture point injection as a new promising treatment for chronic daily headache (CDH).

Methods: A total of 40 subjects with CDH were recruited and randomised to a CS acupuncture point injection group or a normal saline (NS) acupuncture point injection group. Acupuncture point injections were applied twice a week during 4 weeks to the bilateral Fengchi (GB20), Jianjing (GB21) and Taiyang (EX-HN5) acupoints with CS extract or NS.

Outcome measures: The primary outcome measure was headache-related quality of life (QoL), assessed using the Headache Impact Test (HIT). Secondary outcome measures were the changes in the number of headache-free days and health status as assessed with the Short Form (36) Health Survey (SF-36).

Results: HIT scores decreased by 14.9 points in the CS acupuncture point injection group compared with 7.9 points in the NS acupuncture point injection group (p=0.013). Headache-free days increased by 32.6% in the CS acupuncture point injection group compared with 17.4% in the NS acupuncture point injection group (p=0.045). There were significant increases in SF-36 scores compared with baseline in both groups, but the mean improvement was greater in the CS acupuncture point injection group. No serious adverse events (AEs) were reported.

Conclusions: We suggest that the CS acupuncture point injection could be a new safe and promising treatment for CDH. A larger and long-term follow-up trial is needed to determine more definitely the efficacy of CS acupuncture point injection and to elucidate how long the effect lasts.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points*
  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Adult
  • Carthamus tinctorius*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / administration & dosage
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Headache Disorders / therapy*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Injections
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Seeds
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal