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World Acupuncture Day: How Can Acupuncture Help in the Treatment of Migraines?


World Acupuncture Day: How Can Acupuncture Help in the Treatment of Migraines?

by Tatjana Gretschmann
Appointments are available with Tatjana at the Honor Oak Wellness Rooms on Friday mornings or by arrangement only.


What is a Migraine?

Migraine is a neural condition which is characterised by recurring headaches which usually last between 4 to 72 hours where the pain ranges from a moderate to a severe intensity. A migraine attack may be accompanied by nausea, noise sensitivity, and photophobia, sometimes preceded by sensory disturbances (aura). Triggers of migraine episodes vary widely and may include routine physical activity, allergic reactions, diet, alcohol, and bright lights. Migraines can have a serious effect on a person’s quality of life, affecting productivity and draining happiness and well-being. Research shows that more than 70% of migraine sufferers experience impairment in interpersonal and work relationships, and that anxiety and depression are significantly more common in people with migraine than in healthy individuals.

Who Suffers from Migraines?

Migraines are very common. According to the Migraine Trust, migraine is the third most common disease in the world, affecting about one in seven people. More than three quarters of sufferers experience at least one attack each month, and more than half experience severe impairment during attacks. It often starts at puberty and most affects those aged between 35 and 45 years, but it can trouble much younger people including children.

Are Migraines Hormonal?

Chronic migraine affects three-times as many women as men, this higher rate being most likely hormonally-driven. It has long been recognised that some women are more sensitive to hormonal fluctuations within the menstrual cycle and around 50% of women find that their migraine attacks are linked to their periods. The perimenopause can also be a difficult time for women who suffer with migraines as the irregularity of periods makes is it more difficult to predict. Some women will experience more frequent and severe attacks than before the perimenopause while others will find that their attacks continue to follow a cyclical pattern years after their last period and the onset of menopause. Menopausal issues, such as hot flushes and night sweats, result in disturbed sleep, add to stress levels and therefore also increase the likelihood of an attack.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a therapy in which thin sterile needles are inserted into the skin at particular points. It originated in China and is now used in many countries to treat people with a wide range of conditions, including migraine. It is considered a very safe treatment when practiced by a fully qualified traditional acupuncturist.

How Can Acupuncture Help with Migraines?

Many people with migraine can be treated when their attacks occur, but some need prophylactic interventions as their attacks are either too frequent or are insufficiently controlled. However the drugs that are used in an attempt to reduce the attack frequency, (such as betablockers, amitriptyline or sodium valproate) are associated with negative side effects.

Acupuncture can help in the treatment of migraine by:

  • Providing pain relief, by stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, leading to a release of endorphins and other factors thus changing the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord.

  • Reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors.

  • Reducing the degree of cortical spreading depression, an electrical wave in the brain associated with migraine.

  • Modulating extracranial and intracranial blood flow.

  • Affecting serotonin levels, in the brain. Serotonin may be linked both to the initiation of migraines and to the relief of acute attacks.

  • Increasing local microcirculation, thus aiding the dispersal of swelling.

Does It Work?

There is a large body of evidence to suggest that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of migraine. Research has found that adding acupuncture to symptomatic treatment of attacks reduces the frequency of headaches, with trials suggesting that acupuncture may be at least similarly effective as treatment with prophylactic drugs.
The National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE) recommends that patients are offered a course of up to 10 sessions of acupuncture as a treatment to prevent migraine if neither topiramate nor propranolol, which are commonly used as migraine prophylaxis, work well.

Can I Book a Session?

Yes you can! Tatjana (author of this blog) offers Acupunture appointments at the Honor Oak Wellness Rooms on Friday mornings, or by arrangement. You can book online, or contact the clinic to make an appointment.




British Acupuncture Council (

Migraine Trust (

Cochrane (

The National Institute for Care and Excellence (


Back Care Awareness Week: New Research Reveals Back Pain Trends in London


Back Care Awareness Week: New Research Reveals Back Pain Trends in London


It’s BackCare Awareness Week! This year, from 8 – 12 October the National Back Pain Association is encouraging everybody to take care of their backs, providing advice and resources for those affected. In light of new research revealing that people in London are experiencing this pain more frequently, the team here at the Honor Oak Wellness Rooms can offer you simple, effective advice for preventing back or neck pain,

The consumer research, undertaken by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), analysed trends in back and neck pain over the last five years. The findings showed the proportion of people in the region experiencing pain each week has risen from 39% to 44%.

The most common triggers for back and neck pain, a condition affecting 79% of Londoners, have also changed.

The number of people pointing to their job as the cause of their discomfort has risen, now affecting almost a fifth (19%) of the London population. The number of people who find driving contributes to their back pain has also increased by 6%.

Meanwhile, lifting and carrying heavy items, a trigger for 46% of Londoners’ back pain, remains the most commonly cited cause of the condition for the fifth year in a row.

Simon, chiropractor and founder of the Honor Oak Wellness Rooms and member of the BCA comments on the findings:

“I think many of us will agree that the increasing numbers of people experiencing back or neck pain each week are concerning, especially given how simple it can be to protect ourselves from some of the most commons triggers.

“Our lifestyles are becoming increasingly more sedentary, and in London many of us spend hours at a desk or stuck in traffic behind the wheel, contributing to people in the region experiencing pain more frequently. For the 44% of adults in London who are experiencing back or neck pain on a weekly basis, I would urge you to consider incorporating more exercise and general movement into your routine where you can to help combat the effects of sitting still.”

Simon provides six top tips to get people in London moving and to prevent back or neck pain:

1.     Take a break: When sitting for long periods of time, whether you’re at work, driving or just catching up on box sets, ensure you stand up and move around every 30 minutes. Simple activities such as stretching and shoulder shrugging can also help to keep your body moving when you’re sitting for longer periods of time

2.     Drive in comfort: When in the car for long periods, you can keep muscles active with buttock clenches, side bends, seat braces (pushing your hands into the steering wheel and your back into the seat) as well as shoulder shrugs and circles

3.     Stay active: Physical activity can be beneficial for managing back pain, as a stronger body can cope better with the demands you make of it, however it’s important that if this is of a moderate to high intensity that you warm up and down properly to get your body ready to move! If a previous injury is causing you pain, adapt your exercise or seek some advice. Activities such as swimming, walking or yoga can be less demanding on your body while keeping you mobile! 

4.     Be computer compatible: When at work, make sure your desk is set up to support a comfortable position. This is different for everyone so if you don’t feel comfortable in your current set up, try altering the height of your chair or screen

5.     Carry with care: While maintaining a strong body can help to prevent injuries, lifting and carrying in a safe way can help to prevent the leading cause of back and neck pain in London. Just as an athlete has to train to lift heavier weights, we should all only attempt to lift objects that we are able to without too much strain. If an item is particularly heavy then try to make use of available equipment which can help to take the load off your back, or reduce the load to smaller more manageable chunks

6.     Straighten Up!: The BCA has created a programme of 3-minute exercises, Straighten Up UK, which can be slotted in to your daily schedule to help prevent back pain by promoting movement, balance, strength and flexibility in the spine

The BCA recommends that, if you are experiencing pain for more than a few days you should seek professional help, for example from a chiropractor, who can assess you and help you to get moving again without pain.

Book your appointment online today!



Using Yoga Twists to Rediscover Your Full Potential for Mobility


Using Yoga Twists to Rediscover Your Full Potential for Mobility

by Lynne Fugard

As forward-facing animals it’s not surprising that we humans get overly concerned with what’s in front of us. As a consequence, a lot of our daily routines and exercise regimens can become restricted to very linear, one-directional patterns of movement, creating imbalanced and uncomfortable habits of tension and weakness in our bodies.

Days spent hunched over a desk, phone, or steering wheel; carrying heavy bags or children; driving, walking, running or cycling; always going forwards, forwards, forwards… It all has the effect of closing up the front of the body, tightening the muscles of the chest, shoulders, waist and legs, whilst weakening the muscles of the back: those bigger muscles either side of the spine, but also the tiny postural muscles that provide vital support and mobility within the spine itself.

As these patterns and habits become ingrained, it becomes impossible to fully realize the healthy range of mobility that should be available to us. Muscle pairs can become imbalanced – some increasingly tight and tense, whilst others weaken and fail to switch on. These sorts of imbalances can potentially even pull the skeleton itself out of natural alignment. The normal, neutral curvature of the spine becomes exaggerated, resulting in an excessive rounding in the upper back (kyphosis), or over-concaving in the lower back (lordosis). We feel hunched over, tired, stressed and tense, and over time chronic pain in the neck, shoulders or lower back can result.

How Can Yoga Help?

One of the joys of a regular yoga practice is the transformational rediscovery of our deep-seated potential for multifaceted motion. We have a spine that can maneuver 360 degrees through 3 planes of alignment - not only forwards and backwards, but also from side to side, in rotational twists, and then through all sorts of combinations of those movements. The yoga practice flows through all of these planes, exploring a healthy range of mobility in each limb, whilst also working to balance and enhance a strong, supple, interconnected musculature that supports and allows such motion to feel safe and stable.

Which Poses Should I Use?

In particular, the yoga poses that most obviously break with linear, forward-facing patterns are twists, side-bends and back-bends. In my classes, I incorporate these movements to mindfully explore the space above and behind us, encouraging new perspectives and creative ways of moving, strengthening around the spine, enhancing posture and breath-capacity, and all whilst brightening the mood, stimulating the nervous system, and clarifying the mind. Suddenly the body feels more alive, supple and buoyant, you wake up every morning more comfortable and spacious, and you begin to challenge your preconceptions about what is possible and maybe even what is normal! 

Sound good?

Then it’s time to BOOK YOUR SPOT in our Yoga Improvers: Explore From Your Core! workshop this weekend!

We will build through an invigorating sequence in preparation for the body to weave itself into deliciously deep twists, binds, back-bends and beyond. Whilst opening the shoulders, chest, and side body, we will also cultivate a strong and powerful core, the centre, from which and around which we can move, expand and explore our natural range of motion with intention and curiosity. Using props and partner-work there will be time to break down and work towards those more challenging twists, binds and backbends from the yoga asana practice - including standing, seated, balancing and inverted poses - leaving you plenty of ideas to take back to your self-practice, weekly classes and daily life.