The Traditional Chinese Medicine view point on migraine relief…
If you suffer from migraines – chances are you’ve gone down the Western Medicine route, which is your first port of call and very important, no doubt looking for a migraine cure. There are a few causes that need to be ruled out using Western Medical diagnostics and scans – in case there is something serious occurring, such as a tumour, etc.
Then you get to the stage when you’re either not getting any migraine relief or taking medication that you’re not keen to stay on … what then?
You go searching for migraine relief or migraine remedies which come in all manner of forms.
The Mayo Clinic lists nine known “triggers” for migraines in Western Medicine as follows:
- hormonal changes – fluctuations in oestrogen
- food triggers – skipping meals or fasting, food additives – aspartame and MSG in particular
- drinks – wine and highly caffeinated beverages
- stress – work or home
- sensory stimuli – visual, auditory or smell
- too little or too much sleep – jet lag
- physical factors – intense activity, including sexual activity
- changes in the environment – barometric pressure
- some medications – such as oral contraceptives and vasodilators
In Traditional Chinese Medicine – we see similar triggers – but diagnose them in a completely different way. We look at the “triggers”, the “location” of the pain, “type” of pain, also the things that help with migraine relief or provide a migraine remedy for you, as an individual.
The triggers are as follows:
- Constitution – in other words a genetic pre-disposition inherited from your parents
- Emotions – anger, worry, fear, shock, excessive mental work
- Overwork – working too long hours without adequate rest
- Excessive sexual activity – this is a common cause particularly in men
- Diet – this could be following too strict a diet or over-eating
- Accidents – severe accidents and falls
- Childbirth – too many births close together (including miscarriage)
- External Pathogenic Factors – from a cold or flu
Another interesting aspect of diagnosis is the location of the headache, which all go to make up the treatment diagnosis.
- top of the head
- at the sides of the head
- one side only
- behind the eyes
- back of the head
- whole head
Type of pain.
- Feeling of heaviness
- Distending pain
- Stabbing / boring
- Feeling of emptiness
Factors which make a headache better or worse
- Time of day – morning, afternoon, evening or during the night
- Activity or rest – worse for movement or better for lying down
- Weather – worse for hot weather / cold weather / damp weather
- Worsen with anger, or when you suddenly relax on the weekend
- Aggravated after sexual activity or better after sexual activity
- Food – headaches that get worse after eating or improve after eating
- Menstruation – headaches at different stages of a women’s cycle mean different things too
- Pressure – some headaches are better for pressure on the effected area and some feel worse
Put all this together and you arrive at 17 different “patterns” for migraines – confirmed with a tongue and pulse diagnosis too.
This, in my opinion is the strength of Traditional Chinese Medicine – we can identify the different patterns going on in the body, which organs are involved, what lifestyle or environmental triggers are affecting the condition. We then treat the manifestation first (pain) and the root cause of the migraine second.
We also use Chinese Herbal Formulas to compliment our acupuncture treatments further.
Migraine and tension headaches lead to loss of productivity and quality of life; a drug free therapy has a major health impact and potential cost savings as well as maintaining participation in the workforce (14).
We have strong evidence to support that acupuncture is effective treatment for migraine and headaches quoted from “The Acupuncture Evidence Project” by John McDonald & Stephen Janz – (2017} as follows:
Migraine prophylaxis [Positive effect]
“For migraine prophylaxis, acupuncture was rated as ‘effective’ in the Australian DVA review (2010) and ‘evidence of positive effect’ in the USVA Evidence map of acupuncture (2014) (5, 6).
“Since March 2013 a narrative review of high quality randomised controlled trials and two systematic reviews including a Cochrane systematic review update, have confirmed that acupuncture is superior to sham acupuncture and seems to be at least as effective as conventional preventative medication in reducing migraine frequency (40-42).
“Moreover, acupuncture is described as ‘safe, long-lasting and cost effective’ (40). Subgroup analysis in the Cochrane systematic review found that 16 or more treatment sessions showed a larger effect size (Z=4.06) than 12 treatments or fewer (Z=2.32). Evidence levels in these three reviews was moderate to high quality.”
I’d love to have the opportunity to give you more information and discuss treatment for your specific condition or answer any burning questions that you may have.
Please call Sally on 0421 411 508 or visit our contact page or Face Book page at Austin Therapies – The London Road Natural Health Clinic – Belmont, Brisbane.
Find information about Headache Relief
The Practice of Chinese Medicine – the treatment of diseases with acupuncture and Chinese herbs – Giovanni Maciocia (1998)
The Acupuncture Evidence Project – by John McDonald & Stephen Janz (2017)
- Biotext. Alternative therapies and Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold and White Card arrangements. In: Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs, editor: Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs; 2010.
- Hempel S, Taylor SL, Solloway MR, Miake-Lye IM, Beroes JM, Shanman R, et al. VA Evidence-based Synthesis Program Reports. Evidence Map of Acupuncture. Washington (DC): Department of Veterans Affairs; 2014.
- Steiner TJ, Stovner LJ, Birbeck GL. Migraine: the seventh disabler. J Headache Pain. 2013 Jan 10;14:1.
- Da Silva AN. Acupuncture for migraine prevention. Headache. 2015 Mar;55(3):470-3.
- Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Fei Y, Mehring M, Vertosick EA, et al. Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016(6):Cd001218.
- Yang Y, Que Q, Ye X, Zheng G. Verum versus sham manual acupuncture for migraine: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Acupunct Med. 2016 Apr;34(2):76-83.
- Linde K, Allais G, Brinkhaus B, Fei Y, Mehring M, Shin BC, et al. Acupuncture for the prevention of tension-type headache. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;4:Cd007587.
- Coeytaux RR, Befus D. Role of Acupuncture in the Treatment or Prevention of Migraine, Tension-Type Headache, or Chronic Headache Disorders. Headache. 2016 Jul;56(7):1238-40. 76. Kim SY, Lee H, Chae Y, Park HJ, Lee H. A systematic review of cost-effectiveness analyses alongside randomised controlled trials of acupuncture. Acupunct Med. 2012 Dec;30(4):273-85.