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Migraines/Headaches

Migraines and headaches are common neurological disorders that affect millions of people worldwide. These conditions can cause significant pain, discomfort, and disruption to daily life. While headaches are a broad term encompassing various types of head pain, migraines are a specific subtype characterized by recurrent, intense headaches often accompanied by other symptoms.

Migraines are neurological in nature and are believed to involve complex interactions between the brain, blood vessels, and the nervous system. They are typically characterized by severe, pulsating or throbbing pain, usually on one side of the head. Migraines are often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light (photophobia), and sensitivity to sound (phonophobia). They can last for hours to days and may interfere with daily activities.

Migraines can be classified into two main types:

  • Migraine without Aura: This is the most common type of migraine, where the pain is the primary symptom, often accompanied by other symptoms like nausea and sensitivity to light or sound.
  • Migraine with Aura: Some people experience warning signs or neurological symptoms before the headache, such as visual disturbances (flashing lights, zigzag lines), tingling or numbness, or difficulty speaking. These symptoms are collectively referred to as an “aura.”

Headaches, on the other hand, refer to any pain or discomfort in the head or upper neck region. There are several types of headache that can vary in intensity, location, and duration.

  • Tension Headaches: Often caused by muscle tension or stress, tension headaches typically involve a dull, aching pain that affects both sides of the head.
  • Cluster Headaches: These are severe headaches that occur in clusters or cycles, usually on one side of the head. They are characterized by intense, sharp, and piercing pain, often accompanied by symptoms like red or teary eyes and nasal congestion.
  • Sinus Headaches: Caused by sinus inflammation or congestion, these headaches typically involve pain around the forehead, cheeks, and eyes.

Migraines and headaches can have various triggers, including stress, hormonal changes, certain foods, sleep disturbances, and environmental factors.

What does Chinese Medicine say

In Chinese medicine migraines and headaches are understood as disruptions in the body’s balance of Qi (vital energy), blood, and the harmonious functioning of organ systems as well as stagnation of Qi and blood circulation as a common cause of migraines and headaches, called Liver Qi Stagnation. The Liver is closely associated with the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body.

Emotional factors such as anger, frustration, and stress can lead to Liver Qi stagnation, which may manifest as headaches or migraines. Headaches and migraines can be also classified into excess and deficiency patterns. Excess patterns involve an accumulation of energy, often due to external factors or imbalanced lifestyles. Deficiency patterns relate to insufficient energy and vitality within the body due to poor diet and lack of excersice.

Acupuncture and Herbal remedies aim to promote the smooth flow of Qi and blood, alleviating tension, reducing pain, regulate Liver Qi and restore its balanced function.

Multiple clinical trials and systematic reviews have demonstrated that acupuncture can lead to a significant reduction in the frequency, duration, and intensity of migraine attacks. Research found that acupuncture provided significant pain relief and improved function in patients with chronic tension-type headaches.

Chinese herbal medicine has been studied for its potential to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines as well as being effective in reducing the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.

Other studies have explored the combination of Chinese herbal medicine with acupuncture for migraine treatment that found that the combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine was more effective in reducing migraine frequency compared to acupuncture alone.

In perspective of Nutrition

Personalized nutrition is a vital approach to managing migraines and headaches, backed by scientific evidence. Specific foods can act as triggers due to their potential to release neurotransmitters that cause vascular changes. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce headache frequency as well as Magnesium c to regulate neurotransmitters and blood vessel dilation. Nutrition therapy for migraines and headaches is often used in combination with other treatments.

Several studies have been conducted over the years to proof that Acupuncture beneficial for migraine prevention and management. It is a non-invasive, drug-free option with minimal side effects. Research suggests that it may be effective by reducing the frequency and intensity of migraines and tension-type headaches.

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