Migraine Headaches - Triggers and Treatments
Updated: Jul 28, 2019
Do you suffer from debilitating headaches that put you down for hours and sometimes days, sometimes with nausea and vomiting? Do you curl up in a dark room till it goes away?
Doctors have a word for this intense suffering - migraines. Acupuncture physicians have several terms for migraines, according to the pattern, or type of headaches you have and what causes them. Traditional Chinese Medicine has 4,000 years of experience in treating headaches and migraines, which respond well to acupuncture, herbal therapy and dietary changes. That’s plenty of time to become experts at treating what they term “head wind.”
The World Health Organization cites 43 conditions, including migraines, that acupuncture treats successfully while minimizing side effects. “New Acupuncture MRI Research on Migraine Point Specificity” at http://www.healthcmi.com also states that during a research study in China, specific points were found to have measurable effects on brain functioning, and that needling GB 20, GB 34, and SJ 5 was proven to reduce the pain associated with migraines. A similar study in California produced similar results. With advances in computing technology, science can now prove what the Chinese have been saying for thousands of years - you can reduce or eliminate pain with regular sessions of acupuncture.
Regular is the key word. Although you may get relief during the first visit, to manage a chronic condition such as migraines takes time, patience, and a willingness to make lifestyle adjustments. Your acupuncturist will evaluate your case and make treatment recommendations based on your needs, but here are some things you can do at home to reduce your sensitivity to migraines and enhance the results of your acupuncture treatments.
1) Pay attention to your triggers.
For some, migraines may be hormonal. For others, it could flare up with exposure to chemicals or odors. Common food culprits include caffeine, chocolate, alcohol and cheese, as well as artificial sugars and food additives. Individuals with severe food allergies can also suffer from migraines. Keeping a diet diary and reading food labels are critical if you suspect your migraines are triggered by food.
2) Drink plenty of water.
Dehydration can cause headaches, and Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj M.D. writes in his book “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water” that increasing water intake at the onset of a headache can often eliminate it without medications. The best practice is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day as a baseline to keep your body properly hydrated. If you skimp on water, or dehydrate yourself with caffeinated beverages and alcohol, your body will ration your internal supply of water, giving the brain priority and shorting your muscles and internal organs. Shorting yourself on water is not a great plan for maintaining good health. And do not
flavor your water with artificial sugars, or you are just compounding the problem. If you detest the taste of plain water, add lemon, lime, cucumber or mint leaves, or invest in a high-quality water such as Voss, which is filtered from a volcano in Norway.
3) Don’t skip meals.
Enough said. Listen to Mom on this one.
4) Sleep well.
Go to bed at the same time every night and make getting a good night’s sleep a priority. Remove all electronics, such as TVs or computers, from the bedroom. Create a relaxing haven that helps you unwind.
5) Eye pillow.
Keep an eye pillow or mask handy for when you do have a flare-up.
6) Peppermint Oil.
A good quality peppermint essential oil can be applied to the site of pain. Native American Nutritionals, www.nativeamericannutritionals.com, gas chromatograph tests their oils and will provide the specs on request. Keep it away from your eyes and remove it with plain olive oil if it does. Lavender essential oil can also help. Essential oils can be used in diffusers, on the site of pain or as room sprays.
Along with herbal medicines prescribed by your acupuncturist, herbal teas such as peppermint, feverfew, chamomile and catnip may also be beneficial. Consult your acupuncture physician first before trying them on your own. Migraines don’t have to be a chronic pain! With the help of Traditional Chinese Medicine, we can help get your symptoms under control with a combination of acupuncture, herbal therapy, diet changes, and a pinch of good old common sense.