Headaches are nasty, annoying, and way too common. That's why I want to help you beat them!
First, we need to talk about the different kinds of headaches in Chinese medicine. Not every headache is created equal and it's important to know what you're dealing with. When you have a headache, make sure you pay attention to onset, time of day, pain location, pain quality, and what makes it better or worse. This record will help your Chinese medicine practitioner make an accurate diagnosis and come up with an effective treatment plan.
Onset: If the headache comes on suddenly with a short duration means its coming from an external invasion, such as a cold or flu. A gradual onset with a long duration means there is an internal imbalance to address. Also, a headache that occurs around menstruation has an underlying hormonal imbalance.
Time of day: Headaches that begin during the day indicate a deficiency of Qi or Yang, whereas headaches that begin in the evening are typically due to a deficiency of Blood or Yin. Headaches that start at night during sleep or before menstruation indicate blood stasis.
Location: Back of the head (Bladder, Small Intestine, or Kidney channel imbalance), top of the head (Liver or Pericardium channel imbalance), forehead (Stomach or Large Intestine channel imbalance), temples and side of the head (Gallbladder channel imbalance), behind the eyes (Liver channel imbalance), or whole head (Kidney channel deficiency or external invasion).
Quality: A dull ache usually indicates deficiency whereas a sharp or throbbing pain indicates excess. A dull ache with the head feeling like it was wrapped in a band and/or a feeling of heaviness indicates Dampness or Phlegm. Headaches that are felt "inside" the head are usually due to a Kidney deficiency.
Ameliorating or aggravating factors: A chronic headache that is improves with rest, lying down, or eating are due to deficiency. Headaches that are improved by exercise are due to excess. Headaches that are aggravated by lying down or eating are also from excess.
Triggers: stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, certain foods (look for dairy, chocolate, soy, citrus), hormones, low blood sugar, sex, weather and lighting changes, rebound from painkillers.
Basically, there are lots and lots of different patterns that can cause headaches. Luckily, Chinese medicine is wonderful at balancing out the body and helping you with the frequency and intensity of your headaches! Once a diagnosis has been reached, the treatment method will focus on bringing all parts back into balance.
At Herbs & Acupuncture Clinic, I will do a combination of things for a headache. Typically, I find a custom herbal prescription, bloodletting (not as scary as it sounds, promise), acupuncture, and ear seeds will have an immediate effect on headaches. Continued treatments lengthen the period of relief, as well as decrease headache intensity. For headaches that have lasted longer than three months, I usually recommend a series of 10-15 treatments, and 6-8 treatments for headaches that have lasted less three months or less.
There's no foolproof way to stop a headache, but there are definitely some things you can do outside of a Chinese medicine treatment to lessen its impact. These are some things I talk about in clinic:
-essential oils- peppermint and lavender are great, and eucalyptus will help a sinus headache
-protect your neck with a scarf, esp in windy weather
-use heat or ice, or alternate 5-10 min heat, 5-10 min ice, and always end with heat
-head, face, and neck massage on tender points
I've helped lots of people manage their headaches or migraines, or get rid of them completely! I offer a free in-office or phone consultation, so please get in touch if you want to look and feel your best. I'd love to help you!
Thoughts and practical tips to protect your health based in the wisdom of Chinese medicine.
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