Biobehavioral, Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Headache

  • Tom Whitmarsh
  • Dawn C. Buse
Reference work entry


Headache management and research into headache in the Western World is largely based on drugs and pharmacology. This chapter is concerned with the nondrug management of headache. Biobehavioral techniques, such as biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and relaxation, have much evidence of efficacy in headache either alone or in combination with pharmacotherapy, and have become standard components of treatment programs at many specialty headache centers, especially in USA. Their use and applicability in the rest of the world is much less studied. Complementary and alternative treatments (CAM) are very widely used by the general population and by headache sufferers. There is good evidence from clinical trials that acupuncture can help people with migraine and with tension-type headache (TTH), in fact, it has become more or less mainstream in some countries. Chiropractic and other spinal manipulative therapies for headache are not well-supported in their effectiveness in headache by well-performed trials even though it may seem reasonable to patients that there is a role for neck-manipulation in headache. There is a plethora of uncontrolled studies and case reports in the literature. Similar comments can be made about other therapies and headache, like homeopathy, reflexology, and yoga, where there are many case reports and only a few well-performed trials, usually with small numbers and done by enthusiasts. Vagus nerve stimulation has been suggested as a possible therapy for intractable headache.


Vagus Nerve Stimulation Acupuncture Group Relaxation Training Headache Management Spinal Manipulative Therapy 
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© Lifting The Burden 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Glasgow Homeopathic HospitalGlasgowUK
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyAlbert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva UniversityBronxUSA
  3. 3.Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology of Yeshiva UniversityMontefiore Headache CenterBronxUSA

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