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The Healing Power of Acupuncture for Headaches

Effectively relieve pain and discomfort with acupuncture

Amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life, headaches can disrupt routines, causing pain and suffering, pushing us to seek effective relief. If you’ve explored various remedies without success, have you considered acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient practice, rooted in traditional Chinese medicine, that has been used to successfully treat headaches for thousands of years.

Find out what causes headaches from the traditional Chinese medicine perspective and learn how acupuncture effectively alleviates the pain and discomfort associated with this common ailment.

The art of acupuncture: what is it?

Acupuncture involves the strategic insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate the flow of energy, known as qi. When disruptions in the qi flow occur, various health issues may arise. The goal of this stimulation is to restore balance and activate the body’s natural healing mechanisms. The strategic placement of needles prompts the body to release endorphins, fostering a sense of well-being and providing relief from various ailments.

How acupuncture works for headaches

Understanding the root cause:

Acupuncture aims to address the root cause of ailments. Chinese medicine understands that headaches can result from diverse factors such as stress, poor diet or physical and/or emotional trauma – all of which can cause imbalances in the body’s energy. Acupuncturists collaborate closely with patients to identify these underlying issues, tailoring treatments to provide targeted relief.

The Chinese medical view:

In Chinese medicine, different types of headaches are associated with specific disruptions in the flow of qi and blood around the head, reflecting the intricate web of relationships within the body. Some of the common causes of headaches from a Chinese medicine perspective are:

  • Wind invasion (the common cold): According to Chinese medicine, wind invasion can disturb the harmony of qi and blood, leading to headaches. An example of this is the experience of headaches during a common cold, where the pathogen disrupts the flow of qi around the head and neck.
  • Excessive liver yang energy (hot energy): Headaches accompanied by dizziness, a bitter taste in the mouth, anxiety and short-temperedness may be linked to excessive liver yang energy. This scenario is often observed in conditions such as high blood pressure, where an excess of hot energy contributes to the manifestation of headaches, often around the temples or eyes.
  • Deficiency of qi energy and blood: A slow onset of headaches accompanied by a heaviness of the head and eyes, tiredness or exhaustion, and a pale complexion may indicate a deficiency of qi and blood. This condition reflects an imbalance in the body’s vital energy and blood supply.
  • Blood stagnation: Headaches characterised by sharp pain with fixed locations, accompanied by complaints of loss of memory and concentration, palpitations, and a history of head injury may be associated with blood stagnation. In this case, the flow of blood is impeded, leading to various symptoms beyond just headaches.

The science behind acupuncture and pain relief

Research has indicated that acupuncture alleviates headaches via two mechanisms. Firstly, it stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Secondly, acupuncture plays a role in regulating blood flow in and around the head. Acupuncture has shown to be a safe and efficacious treatment for the prevention of headaches and have positive effects on headache frequency, quality of life, pain intensity and stress-related symptoms.[1] [2]

[1] https://doi.org/10.1186/s10194-021-01298-4

[2] https://doi.org/10.1007/s00415-023-11695-1

Embrace acupuncture for headache pain

Through the gentle insertion of needles, the ancient practice of acupuncture encourages the body to restore balance, alleviate tension and promote overall well-being. If you’re looking for a natural, personalised approach to headache relief, consider acupuncture – a time-tested remedy with both historical roots and contemporary scientific support.

Written by Andrew Nuttall, Acupuncturist & Chinese Herbalist, CNM Acupuncture Lecturer

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Blog/Article content reflects the author's research and diverse opinions, not necessarily CNM's views. Items may not be regularly updated, so represent the best available understanding at the time of publication.

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