Much A'Do About Headaches

As a headache sufferer myself I have personal experience with this particular topic. My contributing factors include head trauma from bike accidents (and 7 years of Ju-Jitsu), sinus problems, and I’ll admit it, stress from starting a practice and raising two children.

From a main stream medical point of view headaches are usually just dosed with over the counter pain medications and allowed to go basically untreated. Covering up the symptoms of the headache is where the treatment is focused. The beauty of Traditional Chinese Medicine is that we have the ability and interest to not only help with the immediate pain of the headache, but the underlying root cause as well. In the following blog entry I want to briefly describe for you some of the ways an acupuncturist looks at a headache.

As with many different problems that acupuncture deals with it is of major importance to observe where on the head the pain is located. Qi, or our body energy, travels along distinct channels and there are several that run along the surface of the head. Any one, or all of these channels traveling over the head can lead to pain causing headaches. For example if your headache is primarily frontal or a sinus type headache it corresponds to the Large Intestine channel. If the pain is more over the temples it can be attributed to the Gall Bladder channel. If the pain is at the back of the head it can be either Urinary or Gall Bladder channels. So the point that I am trying to make here is that depending upon where the pain is on the head the treatment will differ from patient to patient. The channel affected dictates the treatment. This makes for a unique treatment for each individual contrary to the mainstream approach of blasting the body with a broad spectrum of pain killers that everyone can take for any problem.

When there is stagnation some where in any particular channel there is going to be pain or injury. This stagnation can come about for many different reasons. You can be depleted in qi which can lead to a stagnation and therefore pain. This is usually the dull and achy type and comes about with exhaustion or overwork. Or you could have a stagnation of qi due to emotions which will usually be a pounding type headache relating to the temples and back of the head. Or you could have stagnation anywhere on the head due to an old (or new) trauma.

In choosing a proper treatment for each of my patients I will take all of these things into consideration and more to create a personalized treatment plan. Certain acupuncture points will work better for each type of problem. But besides acupuncture, which in our society people are rather limited as to frequency, the use of herbal remedies are important to continue the treatment while at home. Taking a course of herbs can have dramatic effects on the frequency and severity of most headaches and still stay in line with the particular root condition at hand.

So why use acupuncture for headache care? The answer is simply that by doing so you will be getting at the root cause of the headaches and will not suffer from them like you used to. Simply taking pain medications to cover up the symptoms of what is causing the headache only buys you time until your next headache. And for some people who suffer from migraines that next headache might mean more time out of work, and an often crippling experience all around. But besides that, over the counter pain killers have been shown to contribute quite considerably to both liver and kidney failure when taken long term. The number of transplants due to these medications is staggering!

So consider trying something a little different if you suffer from headaches. I find through my own personal experience that acupuncture and Chinese herbs have had a dramatic impact on my headache experience. I strongly encourage you to give it a try.