In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) all maladies are diagnosed according to organ channel patterns. There are many different types of headaches and must be differentiated according to symptoms.

When giving a family history, a patient often points to other family members suffering from migraine headaches. Attacks may be triggered by emotional or physical stress, lack or excess of sleep, missed meals, specific foods (e.g., chocolate), alcoholic beverages, menstruation, or use of oral contraceptives.

Migraines may progress through four stages, including prodrome, aura, headache and postdrome. You may not experience all the stages. Many of the symptoms include, irritability, constipation, depression, neck stiffness, visual field disturbances such as zigzags or flashing light. Other symptoms include sensitivity to light and/or sound, nausea, vomiting, pins & needle sensations at arm or leg, pain on one or both sides of head. After the headache a person may feel extremely tired or sometimes euphoric.

In TCM, various regions of the head where the headache occurs denotes which organ channel and pathology is involved. For instance, a headache at:

  • forehead: bright yang channel-ie Stomach & Large Intestine Channels (stomach-heat or blood deficiency);
  • temporal: lesser yang channels-ie Gallbladder & San Jiao Channels (wind-cold or wind-heat, or interior liver and gallbladder fire rising)

Acupuncture and herbs are used very effectively to minimize the severity and frequency of migraines and other types of headaches.1

Sharon McDermott, MS, L.Ac.

1 Headache.2008 Mar;48(3):398-407. Epub 2007 Sep 12. Traditional acupuncture in migraine: a controlled, randomized study. Facco E, Liguori A, Petti F, Zanette G, Coluzzi F, De Nardin M, Mattia C.

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