Treating Migraines the Chinese Way

(c) Can Stock Photo

February 24, 2015

It’s the Chinese Lunar New Year, and celebrants are ushering in the year of the goat (or according to some interpretations, the ram or the sheep.) While you may not be sure about the significance of this tradition, you are probably a little familiar with some of the benefits attributed to Chinese traditional treatment for migraines, chronic headaches and other ailments.

A study out of a German hospital for traditional Chinese medicine, published on PubMed during 2004, found that headaches and migraines improved among patients receiving traditional therapies. According to Wikipedia, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) embraces a broad array of applications including acupuncture, herbal remedies, exercise, diet and massage. The 2,000plus-year-old traditions are typically incorporated as complementary therapies to western medicine. As with any other therapies, you need to consult with your physician before trying any new chronic headache or migraine treatment.

The concept behind TCM is that passages, or meridians, within the body allow energy, or qi, to flow and circulate. The organs of the body receive their energy through the branches that grow out of the meridiens. When a person is ‘diseased’ the remedy involves identifying where the energy flows are obstructed. Therapies like acupuncture or acupressure, target specific points that need to be unblocked, thereby interfering with pain signals. A migraine procedure, which relies on neurostimulation to stimulate the nerves involved with a migraine, similarly blocks pain signals in their tracks.

During an acupuncture session, thin needles are inserted at specific pressure points along the meridians. They may be inserted at your ankles, along your legs, arms, hand or head. The acupuncture therapist assesses each individual before determining the pattern of treatment. Factors she or he may consider include the location of the headache, type of pain, time of occurrence, and whether eating affects symptoms. Typically a protocol of TCM may include a combination of herbal remedies, acupuncture, special exercise and massage. This holistic approach attempts to restore imbalance and healthy energy flow.

The National Institutes of Health suggest that acupuncture may offer some benefits in addressing pain, however much still needs to be researched and learned about the practice. It also cautions that therapists administering the treatments should be properly certified and qualified, as complications from improper applications can result in serious outcomes.

A less invasive option to acupuncture can be acupressure, and a long-lasting alternative for blocking headache pain that has proven to be highly successful is the Omega migraine procedure. As you continue to explore which treatment is right for you, go ahead and celebrate Chinese New Year with a fabulous feast!

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