Acupuncture and Migraines

February 27, 2012 at 11:01 am Leave a comment

  By Sam May, BSc, LicAc, MBAcC

One of the more commonly known uses of acupuncture is the treatment of headaches, and in particular migraines. Migraines tend to relate to the temple region and the sides of the head, and often involve the eyes, either in the form of distorted vision or pain behind the eyes. The headache usually has an intense quality, sometimes described as ‘throbbing’ or ‘thumping’, and can often last for several days.

In Chinese Medicine, headaches such as these are most commonly associated with  an underlying energetic pattern known as ‘Liver Yang Rising’, resulting from some form of ‘Yin’ deficiency. Yin is grounding, cooling energy, and can easily become depleted in a person who is overdoing it in some way, perhaps working long hours or not getting enough sleep for example. Yin and Yang are opposites and balance each other, but when one becomes relatively weaker than the other then this balance is lost. In the case of Yin deficiency, the Yang energy is not sufficiently grounded and so rises upwards. If the Liver is involved energetically in some way, this rising Yang affects the associated energy channels – in particular the Gall Bladder channel which travels up the back of the neck and over the ears to the temples, eyes and forehead. The Liver is also understood to ‘open into the eyes’ in Chinese Medicine, such that Liver patterns often involve eye symptoms. With this relative excess of Yang energy rising up to the head, a migraine (or a bad headache) develops, usually following the line of the Gall Bladder channel in some way.

The treatment principles in this case are to subdue the Liver Yang energy, pulling this downwards, and also to nourish Yin energy, in order to ground the Yang. Commonly used acupuncture points for these purposes are located on the feet and lower legs, as well as on the temples and the back of the neck. Depending on how chronic the problem is, results can generally be seen quite readily from treating this pattern, in some cases even after just one treatment. Patients may also find that they feel less irritable as well.

Sam May combines both Five Element and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) styles of acupuncture, and practices at Evolve. In addition to practising acupuncture, Sam also teaches meditation for health and wellbeing, and works as a health consultant for complementary and alternative medicine. For more information please visit: http://www.lucentacupuncture.com 

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Entry filed under: Acupuncture.

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