Headaches and migraines are common phenomena that present in a myriad of ways.
Headaches and migraines may be acute or chronic in nature. Some involve visual symptoms, nausea and vomiting. Some sufferers need to retreat to a dark room to lie down, while others find that movement helps. Some prefer coldness, others heat. Headache may be frontal, temporal, on the vertex or occipital, and some presentations involve the sinuses. Headaches can manifest with heavy- or light- headedness, stomach upset, feelings of hot or cold, with sweat or without. Headaches may be worse in the daytime or at night.
What is the Cause?
From a western perspective headaches are caused by pain receptors within the cranium and blood vessels, cranial nerves and brain membrane getting irritated. On the surface, pain receptors in arteries, nerves, muscles, eyes, ears or sinuses may be affected. Factors such as diet, cold, fever, allergies, fatigue, stress, emotions, neck strain, heat stroke, the menstrual cycle or other diseases and trauma can all trigger headache or migraine episodes.
From a Chinese Medicine point of view, head- aches are triggered by external environmental conditions or internally generated energetic imbalance.
Externally, wind and cold disrupts the free flow of blood and Qi (life energy) on the surface, causing muscle tightness. This tends to affect the occipital region and cause headache, which can also be a sign of cold or flu.
Temporal and vertex headaches arise from stress, anger, menopause or hot flushes. They may or may not involvolve dizziness, visual field distortions or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
A heavy foggy type of headache, especially upon waking, tends to arise from digestive weakness that causes turbid fluids to build up. This prevents the flow of healthy substance to the head, or causes these turbid fluids to accumulate in the head. Sharp stabbing headaches signify a blockage in the flow of blood, resulting from emotional stress, trauma or from extreme weakness that prevents the blood from flowing smoothly.
First-time headaches that are extreme in nature and of a type that is different from past events should be investigated by western medicine to eliminate the possibility of serious pathology.
Traditional Chinese Medicine offers a wide variety of methods in the treatment of headaches and migraines. Tui Na (pressure point therapy), acupuncture and herbs, all ensure the return of the body to a state of balance.They work by clearing meridians to ease neck tensions, subduing excessive stress, calming emotions, or correcting adverse energy flow that lead to headache.
Tui Na provides a very quick initial aproach to the treament of headaches; relief is often achieved within 10-15min. Acupuncture has a strong analgesic effect and, as with Chinese Herbal Medicine, it is tailored to suit the individual’s constitution and address internal disharmony that leads to headache.
A Chinese Medicine Practitioner takes a detailed history, feels the pulse, looks at the tongue, defines a clear Chinese Medical pattern, which is based on a 5,000 year old medical discipline. Over the centuries Chinese medicine studied the human body through its own paradigm and provides a precise and holistic approach to treatment, focused on the entire person. It effectively treats the presenting complaint by addressing the underlying cause.