How acupuncture works: In acupuncture, small needles are placed in a person’s skin. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is believed to unblock disruptions to the flow of energy or Qi. One idea of how acupuncture may work from current researchers is that it stimulates neurohormonal pathways, which are pathways in the body that connect nerves to chemical signals in the body called hormones.
Evidence in children: There are many studies looking at acupuncture in adults with migraines and the evidence supports acupuncture as a migraine prevention therapy. 1 In adults, acupuncture is best used in combination with medication. Only one study has investigated acupuncture in children with migraine. The one study in children found acupuncture reduced the number of headache days and headache pain in children. 2
Cautions: Some children may find receiving acupuncture scary and may not enjoy getting needles. Although studies have found that most children do not find acupuncture scary or stressful. 2 Depending on where needles are placed acupuncture does come with the risk of lung collapse. Acupuncture also has a risk that the needle injection site may become infected or may introduce bacteria from the skin or outside world into the body. Always do research on the sanitary conditions of a site, as well as safety precautions a site takes, before getting acupuncture from a specific location.
1. Linde, K. et al. Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. CD001218 (2009). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001218.pub2
2. Gold, J. I. et al. Pediatric Acupuncture: A Review of Clinical Research. Evid.-Based Complement. Altern. Med. ECAM 6, 429–439 (2009).