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Holistic Health Research Report

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Having a headache is one of the most common ways of affecting peoples lives. For years headaches have been putting people in bad moods, causing fights, and even causing serious health problems. Let me start by describing what is a headache and the types. A headache is a pain in the head caused by dilation of cerebral arteries or muscle contractions or a reaction to drugs (Diamond & Falk,1982). There are many types of headaches people get, here are some and what they are. A migraine is thought to be associated with an abnormal spasm of the blood vessels in the brain and is therefore referred to as a "vascular headache". A tension headache, which used to be referred to as a "muscle contraction headache", is associated with tension in muscles of the head and neck. A sinus headache is pain located in your forehead bone, the cheek bone on each side, and behind the bridge of your nose due to a sinus blockage (Diamond & Falk,1982). People need to know that you should never ignore a pain, that's your bodies way of telling you something's wrong. Headaches can effect our moods, feelings, and our over all health. Much through our lives we all get at least a couple of headaches, and some times we get one so bad that no matter what we're doing it's going to put us in a bad mood. The American Council for Headache Education reported that in the last year roughly 90% of men and 95% of women had at least one headache. If that was a survey for most anything else we would all be amazed and shocked, but the headache is often passed off as a minor annoyance (Diamond & Falk,1982). There are many treatments out there and the purpose of this paper is to see if three alternative methods of treatments which are Acupuncture, Massage therapy, and behavioral medicine work to prevent and treat headaches.

Acupuncture is a alternative medicine, long dismissed by mainstream doctors, is getting a second look as many people in the United States have turned to acupuncture to treat a variety of problems. Proponents of acupuncture have accumulated many statistics and surveys in favor of this ancient method. Even though, many medical professionals still question its validity due to the discovery of adverse effects of acupuncture and problems in researching alternative medicines. Acupuncture is defined as the "art of healing by the inserting of needles into specific points of the body for therapeutic purposes"(National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2004). Needles that are slightly larger than a strand of hair are inserted into different points depending on the specific problem of the patient. The needle is placed in the skin at a certain angle with a particular motion, usually about a quarter inch deep. They are then twirled and sometimes topped with Chinese herbs, which are burned . Acupuncture is also occasionally combined with electrical stimulation that is supposed to enhance the effects of acupuncture . Patients that have experienced the treatment claim that acupuncture is less painful than getting a shot or having blood drawn (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2004).

Many people who visit an acupuncturist's office come with a history of chronic headache. While a headache may sometimes be a warning sign of a more serious medical condition, most types of headache seen by an acupuncturist are either a tension headache, migraine, or a combination of both. Acupuncture is effective for both migraine and tension headaches. Careful evaluation is necessary to differentiate between these two conditions since the acupuncture treatment is different for each. For migraines, acupuncture treatment depends on whether the patient comes into a acupuncture office experiencing acute pain or is seeking preventative treatment in between migraine. Acupuncture is very safe, the U.S. Food and Drug administration (FDA) approved acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners in 1996. The FDA requires that sterile, nontoxic needles be used and that they be labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2004). Relatively few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the FDA in light of the millions of people treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles used. Still, complications have resulted from inadequate sterilization of needles and from improper delivery of treatments. Practitioners should use a new set of disposable needles taken from a sealed package for each patient and should swab treatment sites with alcohol or another disinfectant before inserting needles. When not delivered properly, acupuncture can cause serious adverse effects, including infections and punctured organs. Prevention should be the long-term goal (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2004).

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