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What are the traditional Chinese medicine causes and treatment for migraine?

A migraine headache causes throbbing or pulsating pain, usually on only one side of the head. These headaches are often associated with nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound; they generally last between four hours and three days. Find out what Julie Chambers L.Ac.'s answer is to the question "What are the traditional Chinese medicine causes and treatment for migraine? "

What are the traditional Chinese medicine causes and treatment for migraine?


As with all conditions, migraine can be broadly divided into excess and deficiency types: excess types involve qi or blood stagnation, especially in the liver and gallbladder channels, while deficiency types mostly involve qi deficiency. The fact that migraines are three times more common in adult women than men indicates that hormonal changes play a big role in migraines. In fact, I am always glad when a female migraine patient calls me, because I feel confident that acupuncture and herbs will help a lot. I have had less good results treating male patients with migraines. The first serious migraine case I treated was “Esther,” age 52, who was having several migraines a month, with severe aural symptoms: nausea, visual disturbances, sensitivity to light, eye pain, body aches, muscular tension and sensitivity to sounds. Esther had an exhausting job as a museum photographer, handling heavy equipment and working under severe deadlines in an understaffed workplace. She also had a sensitive constitution and was highly particular about her food, environment, temperature control, bedding, etc. She was an only child caring for a mother with dementia, and was in a troubled marriage. Her main TCM pattern was liver qi stagnation, as evidenced by her stagnant tongue color, tight and wiry pulses and the circumstances that triggered her migraines. My acupuncture treatment was therefore to smooth and unblock liver qi, which I did using points such as LI4, GB34, Liv3, GB40 and Liv8. I also used Du24 and GB13 to calm the shen. In the first few weeks, she came twice a week, then once a week, and after a few months, once every two weeks. Gradually, her migraines because less frequent and less severe. Finally, most of the systemic symptoms such as nausea and visual disturbances disappeared, leaving only the headache pain itself, which was much reduced. Her migraines decreased to one every two or three months. Another patient I have treated for several years suffers from chronic sleep deprivation and overwork. She is a manager in a busy ad agency, in charge of legal affairs and sensitive licensing issues. She is never away from her phone and email, even on vacation. This patient’s pattern is one of qi deficiency, of lung, spleen and kidney. She has frequent digestive complaints and loss of appetite. Her face is pure white and her body is thin. Her treatment is aimed at supplementing qi, building blood and tonifying the kidney. Points such as LI10, St36, Kid3, Du20, Ren6 and St25 have been successful. Her migraines have also reduced from several a month to one every several months. If hormonal changes are a big factor in female migraines, why did these two women have several episodes a month? Because even small hormonal fluctuations in people who are genetically prone to migraines can trigger them; and because other factors, such as lack of nutrition, lack of sleep and workplace stress are also involved. I will talk about herbal treatments in the next column.
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