(03) 9699 5333

Headaches and Migraines

Have You Tried Acupuncture for Your Headaches and Migraines?

There is strong evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture for headaches (tension-type and chronic) and migraine prophylaxis with reviews of consistent statistically significant positive effects and where authors have recommended the intervention. The quality of evidence is rated as moderate or high quality. (updated 28 Nov). Please refer to AACMA – Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association for The Acupuncture Evidence Project: 

From Mild Discomfort to Debilitating Misery…
headaches and migrainesWe’ve all had headaches and perhaps migraines from time to time. Maybe yours are just a dull tightness and ache that you can mostly ignore, or possibly you get a severe pounding headache that needs medication or rest to alleviate. Some people get regular migraines that are often accompanied by sensitivity to light, sensitivity to loud noises plus nausea and/or vomiting. These can last for hours or days and can be totally debilitating. Whatever the severity and frequency of your headaches it’s easy to see how they can reduce your productivity at home and work, and the impact they have on your energy, mood, and general well-being.

Headaches and migraines can be part of your body’s response to stress, poor posture, incorrect lifting techniques, dehydration, mineral imbalance, and overall lack of movement and exercise. They are often exacerbated by spending many hours a day in front of a computer.  For some women, migraines can be the result of regular hormonal surges within their monthly cycle, something they regularly have to anticipate and plan around. Whatever the cause, anyone who experiences regular headaches will know how important it is to have a way of treating them.

So How Can I Shorten My Suffering Without Drugs…
There are 2 simple home remedies that may help to prevent or alleviate headaches when incorporated into your lifestyle: hydration and stretching. Make sure that you are drinking enough water to flush out toxins, and stand up and stretch for a few minutes every hour while working on the computer to release tension.

A course of acupuncture treatments is also a drug-free alternative treatment for headaches and migraines, especially for pregnant women, and those that prefer to be pharmaceutical-free*.  Regular acupuncture sessions can help to reduce the frequency and duration of migraines and headaches**. A study shows that the effects of acupuncture can last for at least 12 months after the series of acupuncture treatments has been completed***. As these studies indicate regular acupuncture sessions can reduce the the frequency and duration of your headaches.
*McDonald J. & Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised edition). Brisbane: Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd; 2017. http://www.acupuncture.org.au.**Steiner TJ, Stovner LJ, Birbeck GL. Migraine: the seventh disabler. J Headache Pain. 2013 Jan 10;14:1.***Grissa MH, et al, Acupuncture vs intravenous morphine in the management of acute pain in the ED, Am J Emerg Med (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajem.2016.07.028

 Headaches and Migraines and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Headaches and migrainesTraditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture may be effective in treating headaches and migraines. For example, acupuncture may be able to relieve the pain within minutes.

Within TCM, a headache has two parts, the cause and also the symptoms. The headache itself may only be a symptom, caused by a problem in another part of the body. This is because the head depends on other parts of the body to be functioning well.

When internal or external factors interfere with the flow of energy to and from the head, restrict the flow of blood or disturb the nutrient supply to the head, headaches will occur. TCM recognises these imbalances, which may include disharmony of the liver system, kidney deficiency or poor energy flow.

The first thing to recognise is that the causes and the symptoms of headaches can be very different. A proper diagnosis needs to address the imbalances and disturbances of the entire body. The treatment then needs to be tailored specifically for each individual.

The TCM approach to relieving a headache focuses on the whole body. A combination of TCM therapies may be used.

1)   Acupuncture is the most common treatment. Acupuncture is deeply relaxing and stimulates the self healing of the body. Weekly visits may be required to steadily reduce the number and the intensity of the headaches.

2)   Chinese herbal medicine is typically used in conjunction with acupuncture to reduce the pain and frequency of headaches, and naturally balance the body.

3)   The hectic pace of modern life can be a reason for headaches. Reducing stress, anxiety and tension is an important part of healing this condition. Regular physical exercise, calming activities, a therapeutic massage and rest can be helpful techniques. Chinese medicine treatment may be able to assist with stress.

4)   Dietary therapy is important in TCM. Food is considered to be a part of the medicine which can benefit the overall health. An individual diet plan may involve reducing fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine or sugar to improve the symptoms. Drinking more water daily will reduce dehydration.

5)   Asian bodywork, such as shiatsu,  tuina and acupressure may be useful for some headaches and migraines, to relieve muscular stress in the upper back, shoulders and neck.

6)  TCM is drug free. For example, overuse of the common painkiller paracetamol/tylenol is toxic and may damage the liver function.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are generally considered to be safe in the hands of a well-trained practitioner, but occasionally (as with all health treatments) may be associated with possible adverse reactions in individual cases.

Relevant articles:

Migraines….a pain not worth putting up with!