Traditional Chinese Medicine way to treat headaches
With sudden changes in weather, many people complain from headaches and migraines. From the Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view, any pain-related symptoms, including headaches, are generally attributed to a stagnation of the flow of Qi and Blood. The stagnation can be caused by:
- too much toxic substance: the ‘cold evil’ and ‘dampness’ accumulating in the body
- a deficiency of Qi or Blood (or both)
During the consultation, a TCM Doctor will try to acquire as much information as possible in order to identify the main cause(s) of the headache and establish a treatment plan. The process includes asking about the medical history (both specifically about the headache and in general – i.e. any chronic diseases or family history) and the patient’s daily habits (or find out about any major life change that might have happened). The Doctor will also observe the patient’s complexion, gestures and tone of speech, read the tongue and take the pulse.
Interestingly and challengingly, it is frequent to see a patient presenting in a mixed condition of both ‘too much’ and ‘not enough’. For example, a patient with short temper, restlessness, dry mouth or even a bitter taste in the mouth (suggesting too much Heart and Liver Heat), can also feel weak, has poor appetite and irritable bowel (suggesting insufficient Spleen Qi). In this case, the Doctor would needs to combine both ‘clearing’ and ‘tonifying’ strategies – using herbal formulas and acupuncture treatment.
It is suggested for patients to rest during an acute attack of headache, so that the body does not use extra energy to recover. Regular, moderate exercise is recommended in order to enhance a smooth flow of Qi and Blood. As mentioned above, ‘cold evil’ and ‘dampness’ are usually responsible for the blockage of Qi and Blood flow, thus it is recommended to avoid chilled drinks and cold food. Reducing the intake of sweet, spicy and greasy food is also encouraged as these types of food would increase dampness in the body and therefore worsen the symptoms.
It is important to identify the root cause of the headache, be it physical issues such as cardio-vascular or neurological disorders, change in hormones, side effects of certain medicines, allergy to certain foods, or an injury etc; or physiological issues such as emotional distress. Tracking the pattern of the headaches is helpful to shorten the diagnosis and treatment processes.
Additionally to TCM diagnostic method, Western equipment can also be used – such as ultrasound to check the blood vessels nourishing the brain and MRI to check for potential growths or disorders.
If you’ve been suffering from headaches or migraines over the last few days – or for a longer period of time – don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors and get some relief!