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Treatment with traditional Chinese medicine is associated with lasting improvements in headache and migraine patients

Background: Doctors in a German hospital investigated the effectiveness of a clinical treatment program with traditional Chinese medicine for migraine and tension-type headache.
Methods: Ninety-one patients with migraine, episodic or chronic tension-type headache according to the criteria of the International Headache Society were randomized into an experimental or a waiting list control group. Patients in the experimental group were treated 4 weeks in a German hospital for traditional Chinese medicine after a baseline period of one month. Patients in the waiting list group continued their previous headache treatment. Main outcome measure was the difference in the number of days with headache of at least moderate intensity during baseline (month 1) and month 7.
Results: The difference in the number of days with headache of at least moderate intensity was 5.6 days in the experimental group and 1.2 days in the waiting list group (p<0.001). A reduction of more than 50% in headache days was observed in 52% of the patients in the experimental group and 16% in the waiting list group. Patients with migraine and a combination of migraine and episodic tension-type headaches improved more than patients with other headaches.
Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that treatment with traditional Chinese medicine is associated with lasting improvements in the majority of patients.

Source: Melchart D, et al. Treatment of patients with chronic headaches in a hospital for traditional Chinese medicine in Germany. A randomised, waiting list controlled trial. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2004;12:71-78.

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