Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for the Treatment of Headaches
We have seen many patients suffering from a variety of headaches and have successfully treated them with acupuncture and Chinese herbs. The treatment varies from patient to patient depending on the Traditional Chinese medical diagnosis and also the severity of symptoms.
Common symptoms of tension headaches are mild to moderate pain, which is steady and non-throbbing on both sides of the head, back of the neck, and possibly forehead or temporal pain. In this type of headache, the patient has had prolonged periods of stress, and the body is in a chronic state of hyperactivity (flight or fight-sympathetic nervous system response). This usually leads to upper back rigidity, neck tension, and reoccurring stress headaches. With chronic upper shoulder and neck rigidity, there is impairment of head and neck circulation; thereby causing recurring tension headaches. This is one of the least complicated headaches to treat with acupuncture and herbs.
Migraine headaches are mostly one-sided with symptoms of moderate to severe pulsating or throbbing pain. Usually the patient is sensitive to light, noise and activity. If the symptoms are severe, one may have loss of appetite, vertigo, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting. The primary cause for this type of headache is restricted nerve pressure. Other causes may include stress, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, hormonal fluctuations, fluorescent lights, a drop in the barometric pressure, hunger, toxic odors from cleansers, perfumes, and food allergies (nitrites, glutamates, caffeine, artificial sweeteners).
In Chinese medicine migraine headaches are influenced by external pathogenic factors: Wind, Damp Heat, and Cold. Internally, the Wind represents the movement of pain from one location to another. The Damp represents the digestive disorder and the heaviness that is associated with head pain. When the temperature drops, the coldness worsens the headache. The meridians (qi pathways) that are needled for migraines are Stomach, Gall Bladder, Liver and Bladder. The main diagnostic pattern is Qi and Blood stagnation due to Liver and Gall Bladder congestion. The location of the headache is a good diagnostic indicator to determine the position of the needles.
Trauma Headaches or Facial Pain
The head trauma or facial pain can be dull, stabbing, sharp, or excruciating around the site of the injury. Acupuncture is very helpful for any blunt force to the head or face. The needles and micro-current naturally promote local blood circulation to the injured area, therefore reducing pain. We have successfully treated many patients with this type of head and facial pain. It is rewarding to see the positive results of acupuncture for head and facial trauma.
Sinus Headaches due to Spring Allergies
The sinus headache is very painful, especially near or above the eyes or eyebrow. Usually this type of headache comes on during the spring. The treatment of acupuncture and herbs strengthens the immune and digestive system, clears the phlegm, and strengthens the Lungs. The lungs directly relate to the sinuses. This type of headache can occur at other times of the year if the body is in a weakened state.
Disease Related Headaches
Many diseases, such as brain tumors, high blood pressure, stroke, sleeping disorder, conditions of the head, neck, ear, nose and throat, temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ), produce headaches as part of their pathology.
Lifestyle Habits and Food Choices Impact One’s Health
For patients that are prone to headaches, it is important to simplify one’s lifestyle, and to minimize stress factors. Also, it is important to maintain a healthful diet. Smaller meals are preferable (3-5 times per day). Foods to avoid are alcohol, coffee, excess sweets and greasy foods. Choose a regular exercise program that helps to encourage a sense of well-being. It is best to go to bed before 11 PM because this allows the inner body clock to start shutting down, and promotes healing to the Liver. Many headaches, according to Chinese medicine, are related to the disharmony of the Liver.
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