Efficacy of acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis: a single-blinded, double-dummy, randomized controlled trial

Pain. 2011 Aug;152(8):1864-1871. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2011.04.006. Epub 2011 May 26.


Insufficient clinical trial data were available to prove the efficacy of acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis. A multicenter, double-dummy, single-blinded, randomized controlled clinical trial was conducted at the outpatient departments of acupuncture at 5 hospitals in China to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture. A total of 140 patients with migraine without aura were recruited and assigned randomly to 2 different groups: the acupuncture group treated with verum acupuncture plus placebo and the control group treated with sham acupuncture plus flunarizine. Treated by acupuncture 3 times per week and drugs every night, patients from both groups were evaluated at week 0 (baseline), week 4, and week 16. The primary outcome was measured by the proportion of responders (defined as the proportion of patients with a reduction of migraine days by at least 50%). The secondary outcome measures included the number of migraine days, visual analogue scale (VAS, 0 to 10 cm) for pain, as well as the physical and mental component summary scores of the 36-item short-form health survey (SF-36). The patients in the acupuncture group had better responder rates and fewer migraine days compared with the control group (P<.05), whereas there were no significant differences between the 2 groups in VAS scores and SF-36 physical and mental component summary scores (P>.05). The results suggested that acupuncture was more effective than flunarizine in decreasing days of migraine attacks, whereas no significantly differences were found between acupuncture and flunarizine in reduction of pain intensity and improvement of the quality of life.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • China
  • Female
  • Flunarizine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy
  • Migraine Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Young Adult


  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Flunarizine