What are migraines?
A migraine refers to the onset of acute throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head or temples. People suffering from migraines frequently experience nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound, which may also include visual disturbances. Migraines can last from a number of hours to several days. The pain is often so severe that it can interfere with a person’s daily activities.
Migraines and Western Medicine
Within western medicine, the aetiology of migraines is not yet known. Western medicine supposes that migraines result from neurovascular dysfunctions within the brain. Furthermore, genetics may increase some people’s sensitivities to the triggers that can cause migraines: stress, fatigue, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, menstruation, and seasonal or environmental factors.
Migraines and Chinese Medicine
While migraines are often defined within western medicine as a stand-alone condition, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views migraines as a symptom of a root imbalance within the body. It is the practitioner’s role, therefore, to find and treat the root problem, thus relieving the symptom. In this way, any treatment plan must be tailored individually to the patient in line with their own constitutional imbalances and according to their unique pathology.
From a TCM perspective, migraines are often due to the presence of wind and heat within the body. These pathogens can disturb the flow of qi and blood, and lead to stagnation, i.e. pain. With this in mind, a TCM treatment for migraine often aims to build blood, move qi and clear obstructions within the channels, thus restoring the natural flow throughout the body. In addition, my own clinical experience would suggest that migraines tend to be a symptom of chronic issues related to one or all of the following—each of which must be addressed during a course of treatment:
- digestion and gut health
- neck tension
- menstrual health
Can acupuncture help me?
Research shows acupuncture to be effective in the treatment of migraines and headaches.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides guidelines for the NHS on the care of patients and treatment protocols within the United Kingdom. NICE and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend acupuncture in the treatment of migraines and chronic tension-type headaches.
For the most up-to-date research and evidence on the efficacy of acupuncture, please visit the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) website.
If you would like to learn more about how acupuncture may be able to help you, please contact us today..