Oriental medicine and migraine headaches

Randall Wegener, L. Ac., Dipl. Ac., MSTOM

Special to Valley News

Most people have experienced a headache at sometime in their lives. Headaches can vary in level of pain and origin of cause. Migraine headaches are usually severe pain at one or both sides of the head and most of the time debilitating. They can also have symptoms such as visual disturbances and/or nausea and vomiting.

Certain factors can trigger or cause a migraine in some people. Foods which may cause a migraine are alcohol, especially red wine, foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG), foods that contain tyramine, such as aged cheeses, preserved meats with nitrites, spicy foods and sweet foods.

Other factors include too much or too little sleep, fluctuations in female hormones, emotions, such as, anxiety, worry, fear, also excessive mental overwork, stress, and environmental factors, such as weather or temperature changes, fluorescent or bright lights, computer screens, strong odors and high altitude. Migraines that start in childhood usually are due to a weak constitution (basic health).

In oriental medicine, the type of pain and specific location of the pain is important in differentiating the cause of the headache. For example, if the pain is dull across the forehead it is usually due to a deficient stomach problem or if the pain is sharp at the top of the head is usually due to liver energy going upward. These are a couple of examples of how we diagnose in oriental medicine. There are several different diagnoses of migraine headaches.

When treating patients with oriental medicine, it is important to treat the whole person, not just a symptom. It is important to change the cause of the headaches, not just to temporarily remove the pain. Treatment of migraines involves several different areas.

The first area is stress reduction through biofeedback, Tai Qi, Qi Gong, yoga or meditation, which will create a more relaxed state of mind, body and spirit. The next area is exercising on a regular basis. Stagnation (lack of movement) of a persons’ qi (energy) is a big factor in migraines.

Another area is dietary changes such as eliminating certain foods from the diet which will help remove the body’s triggers for migraines. Acupuncture and herbs can change how the body’s energy responds to stimulus, such as, food sensitivities, environmental sensitivities, reduce stress, and balance hormones and other factors that are the triggers for migraines.

For questions regarding this article or acupuncture, contact Randall Wegener, L. Ac., Dipl. Ac., MSTOM at (760) 451-2188.

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