Currently, it is estimated that 24 million Americans suffer from migraines headaches. They occur more in women than men and mostly between 10 – 40 years of age. Often times, the victims of migraine headaches have a family history of the disorder.
The common characteristics of migraine headaches are: one sided pain throbbing in nature, it is worse with exertion, and often associated with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound or smell.
According to Western medicine, the cause of migraines is unknown and their mechanisms are not well understood. They may be caused by such factors as cycling estrogen, insomnia, changes in barometric pressure, hunger.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine view migraines as pain that results from upward surge of qi (vital energy) into the head. This surge of energy is uncontrollable, excessive in nature, and often associated with poor functioning of the liver. According to classical Chinese medical literature, liver is responsible for regulating the flow of qi providing harmonious flow of vital energy into all body parts. Liver also stores the blood. In women, when blood is deficient it fails to nourish the liver and is often a trigger of the upward surge of energy.
Because each patient presents their own unique pattern of medical disease mechanisms, the first step in treating migraines with acupuncture or Chinese medicine is to do personalized pattern discrimination. It is professional pattern discrimination that allows to determine the exact right combination of therapies for each patient. This combination of therapies may consist of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, dietary adjustments, and life-style changes to address the root of the problem.
Acupuncture may be used either preventively or remedially during an acute attack.
Several scores of research studies have been conducted in People’s Republic of China on the Chinese medical treatment of migraines. These studies confirm that Chinese medicine, both acupuncture and Chinese herbs, are safe and effective for this type of headache.