Traditional Chinese medicine describes illness as a disruption of the flow of energy — or qi — along invisible channels known as meridians. Acupuncture is the manipulation of special acupoints on these meridians to restore balance to the body and improve health.

What are two benefits of acupuncture?

Acupuncture does involve needles, but don’t let that scare you away from this ancient practice. The tiny pricks you might feel with the needles are much less painful than getting a shot or a blood draw, and the needles used in acupuncture are solid, not hollow, and made of pure metal. Moreover, most people find the insertion of the needles quite relaxing.

An acupuncturist swabs the area with alcohol and then inserts single-use, hair-thin “pins” into specific acupoints. Most acupoints are located in pairs on both sides of the body. Acupuncture stimulates these acupoints to encourage the release of your body’s natural painkillers, called endorphins.

Acupuncture can help with migraines by reducing neck muscle tightness, helping the nervous system relax and regulating serotonin levels. It can also reduce stress, which is often a trigger for headaches. But don’t forget that it is important to talk to your doctor before you try acupuncture. It may not be safe for everyone, including pregnant women and those taking blood thinners or who have pacemakers. But if your doctor approves it, it can be an effective way to reduce your symptoms and prevent future migraines. Acupuncture is considered a complementary therapy, meaning it can be used alongside other treatments like pain medications or steroid injections.