Treating Migraines with Chinese Medicine

Photo by Mehrpouya H on Unsplash

There are five main types of headache identified in Western Medicine:
Cluster Headaches  • Tension Headaches  • Sinus Headaches • Rebound Headaches • Migraine Headaches.
Today I want to focus on Migraine Headaches and how they are treated in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

In TCM a headache is considered to have two parts, the root, and the branch. The root is the cause or source of the headache and the branch is the location of the pain. TCM always looks for the root cause of any disease, since treating the source of the problem will have long-lasting results, as opposed to treating only the symptom.

Migraine headaches, a severe type, can cause debilitating pain lasting anywhere from 4 – 72 hours. Pain can be throbbing, one-sided, moderate to severe, accompanied by nausea/ vomiting and/or sound and light sensitivity. This type of headache interrupts daily activity and sends people to their beds.

In TCM the root cause of migraines many times is yin deficiency, blood chi deficiency, or excess heat, but there are other possibilities. The former causes are due to energy imbalance, but poor alignment of the neck vertebrae, tension and stress, and sinus infection can also be possible causes. To be sure, it is best to have your energy assessed by an acupuncturist or acupressurist.

There is an acupressure point that is effective for tension headaches. It can be found on the hand in the space between the thumb and forefinger. Go into the webbing of the hand until your thumb meets the bone. Then press into the sensitive spot on the metacarpal bone (the forefinger side) and take deep breaths. The headache will usually diminish.