Migraine Headache and Traditional Chinese Medicine
Migraine headache is a common condition with a prevalence of 17.6% females and 5.7% males. It was estimated that 23 million persons older than 12 years of age have severe migraine headaches. Medical research showed that there was a 60% increase in the disease from 1980 to 1989. The social and economic effects of migraine are staggering, between $2 to $17.2 million are lost in productivity per year. A successful treatment plan for migraine headache has not only medical but also serious economic and social implications.
Conventional Western Medicine
Migraine headache is a recurrent neurovascular headache disorder characterized by attacks of debilitating pain associated with photophobia, phonophobia, and nausea and vomiting. The highest incidence of migraine occurs between the ages of 20 and 35, and is often associated with a positive family history of the disease. Migraine headaches are classified into two diagnostic categories: migraine with and without aura. Migraine without aura (common migraine) consists of unilateral or generalized cephalgia, throbbing or pulsatile in nature, in conjunction with nausea, vomiting, and photophobia. Migraine with aura is preceded by a 15-20 minute episode of visual or sensory aura. Auras are most likely visual alterations, usually experienced as hemianopsia and scotomata that enlarge and spread peripherally.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
From the viewpoint of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), migraine headaches are classified according to the overall condition of the patient, not only the nature of the headache. The headache is a result of disturbance or imbalance of Yin-Yang within the Zang-Fu organ system or the Channel system (Meridians), which are the two principal systems that regulate the functions of the body and mind. The diagnosis of TCM is the unique pattern differentiation of the clinical symptom-complexes, which represent specific pathological conditions that can be adjusted or reversed to physiological conditions by TCM therapeutic techniques such as medicinal herbs, acupuncture and Qi Gong therapy.
The disharmony of the Liver system is the most common reason causing migraine headache. According to the Zang-Fu theory, the Liver is the organ system that regulates the flow of Qi as well as stores the soul (related to mental activity). The smooth flow of Qi regulates emotional activities as well as ensures that the overall body activity operates normally. The disharmony of the Liver system, most commonly deficiency of Yin energy or excess of Yang energy, causes irregular Qi flow and Blood stasis, and accumulates Heat inside the body. Both the Qi stagnation and the Heat accumulation may result in migraine headache. The Liver type of migraine shows moderate to severe intensity, sometimes with pulsating quality and aggravation by walking stairs or physical exercise. This type of migraine is commonly in conjunction with emotional strain or stress, feeling of oppression in the chest and hypochondrium, depression or anxiety, reddened tongue with thin coating, and taut pulse.
Deficiency of the Kidneys is another common reason to cause migraine, especially for those patients with a long history of headache. According to the theory of the Five Elements (Phases), Water (Kidney) energy produces Wood (Liver) energy. The Kidney deficiency, caused by prolonged illness, may result in the Liver Yin deficiency and trigger headache. The Kidney deficient type of migraine shows mild to moderate intensity and is commonly in conjunction with weakness of lower back, low energy, lassitude, pale tongue, deep and weak pulse. Clinically there is a third type of migraine, which is the combination of the Liver type and the Kidney type of headache. The Liver Qi stagnation and Kidney deficiency may co-exist in the same patient.
What are migraine triggers?
A migraine trigger is any environmental or physiological factor that leads to a headache in individuals who are prone to develop headaches. Only a small proportion of migraine sufferers, however, clearly can identify triggers. Examples of triggers include:
Diet a common migraine trigger
Diet is one of the most frequently cited triggers of migraine, however it is not always the type of food you put into your mouth that causes the problem, the Migraine Association of Ireland (MAI) has warned.
According to the association, missing meals, changing food patterns, dropping blood sugar levels and dehydration can all play a role too.
“Migraine can be set in motion by a number of triggers, including stress, hormonal fluctuations, changes in routine and certain environmental factors. However, diet is one of the most frequently cited migraine triggers. About 20% of sufferers cite dietary factors as triggers,” explained MAI information officer, Donna Walsh.
AVERTING HEADACHES WITH ACUPUNCTURE AND
Is acupuncture an effective treatment for migraines and other types of headache? “Yes, indeed,” is the confident answer of acupuncture practitioners around the world. Every day, headache sufferers come to acupuncture clinics in the United States and China and find relief for their symptoms. For people who have been plagued by headaches for years, this relief comes as a gift from one of the most ancient healing traditions in the world. Chinese herbal medicine is another valid modality for treating and averting headaches. The use of traditional Chinese herbs to treat headaches is just beginning to be appreciated by American patients.
On your first visit a detailed assessment is carried out. This includes, Chinese tongue pulse and facial diagnoses, past and current medical history, nutrition diet and lifestyle assessment. An allergy/food intolerance test may also be advised. Depending on the diagnosis, a specific treatment plan will be advised. All consultations are private and by appointment only. This may involve a combination of the following.
Acupuncture is a complex form of medicine, it is used to diagnose and treat illness, prevent disease and achieve optimum health. It is recognised by the W.H.O. and has been used for thousands of years.
Allergies and food intolerances can cause symptoms including, migrane, rash, itch, runny nose, sneezing, headache, red or dry eyes, inflammation, irritation, aches and pains, toxic overload, bowel and digestive upset,
Flu like symptoms, low immune system, nutritional deficiencies, organ and system imbalances, raised PH levels and chronic fatigue. This can lead to illness or trigger existing conditions. We treat a wide range of conditions. The testing used is non-invasive and pain free. It incorporates Chinese medicine, bio-resonance and muscle testing . We test for a wide variety of foods, chemicals, and airborne substances. We also check for nutritional deficiencies, organ imbalances, and toxins, PH / acid balance, intestinal flora and the immune system. Depending on the diagnoses, a treatment plan will then be advised for you. This may involve exclusion diet, acupuncture / needle free acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, nutrition diet and lifestyle changes. Any exclusion diet will be fully explained and include recommendations for alternative foods. All consultations are strictly private and by appointment only.
It is important that we are eating the right foods, that these foods are being broken down properly, and that the nutrition from these foods is properly absorbed. Symptoms of deficiency or mal-absorption of nutrition are numerous and need to be identified and treated ASAP.ORGAN IMBALANCES In Chinese medicine, health is at its optimum when there is natural balance between yin and yang, smooth flow of Qi/energy and harmony amongst the organs. Organ imbalances can occur were there is exhaustion, pain, allergies, stress, infections, poor diet and lifestyle insomnia etc. It is important to identify and treat these imbalances as soon as possible to avoid illness. TOXINS
Our systems are bombarded with toxins every day. For example, air pollution, drugs, heavy metals, excess salt and sugar, preservatives and additives, chemicals and fumes. Allergies can cause toxin levels to rise within the body. Many toxins are fat soluble and are stored in the fatty parts of the body. Symptoms can include allergy reactions, Premenstrual Syndrome, weight gain, joint pain, bad breath, headaches, constipation, digestive upset, premature ageing, poor concentration, fluid retention, Candida, gallstones, acne, bad breath, body odor, erratic blood sugar levels and M.E. Toxins can be stored in many parts of the body. It is therefore important to detox, to avoid toxic overload.
PH / ACID BALANCE
PH balance / acid balance can be altered by diet, stress, infection, and allergies. Acid can cause or trigger existing conditions eg. gout, acne, aches and pains, indigestion, psoriasis, red itchy skin, cellulite, heartburn, constant fatigue and illness.
have been used for hundreds of years. Specific herbal formula’s can be used to successfully treat most conditions. For example, migrane, allergy symptoms (sneezing itching burning stinging pain), increase absorption of nutrition, improve the immune system, stress, Candida, asthma, IBS, fatigue, digestive conditions, detox the system, skin conditions, oedema, and weight gain or loss. Any Chinese herbs that are recommended will be fully licensed.Joanne Mc Govern – Dip Ac., Lic Ac., Dip. Chinese Herbs, Dip. Nutritional Adviser, Dip Stress Management.