Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs for Migraine Relief
Migraines are miserable – ask anyone who suffers from them! They can be absolutely debilitating and have a profound effect on one’s quality of life. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, lasting an hour to several days. People often describe the pain as a “pounding” or “throbbing” sensation that takes residence in one side of the head. For some, migraines can be so severe they produce accessory symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to external stimuli (light, noise, or scent), blurred vision and extreme fatigue.
While the etiology for migraines is unknown, it is speculated that they are caused by a vulnerable nervous system that is highly sensitive to changes in one’s internal or external environment. This increased sensitivity is associated with serotonin metabolism and vasodilatation of the blood vessels surrounding the skull. Decreased levels of serotonin (the happy hormone) seem to be linked to the onset of a migraine; this affects the brain’s processing system and triggers the release of chemicals that cause painful inflammation and activate the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response). Incidentally, people that suffer from chronic migraines also have a tendency to suffer from depression and anxiety.
Western medicine treats migraines with anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen and naproxen), barbiturates, caffeine, and anti-depressants. A combination of these medications may be used in treating migraine symptoms that are especially severe. All of these medications do nothing to treat the underlying cause of the pathology and often lead to other problems. All medications are synthetic and thus put strain on the liver and lymphatic system. Barbiturates are habit forming and cause drowsiness. SSRIs can lower libido and affect one’s sex life.
In Chinese medicine, migraines are considered a disorder of the liver. The liver according to Chinese Acupuncture dictates the flow of energy throughout the body and is closely associated with the nervous system, hormone regulation, and blood pressure. It is also the organ that is most affected by both internal and external stress.
Research has shown that acupuncture is an effective and safe modality in treating migraines. Acupuncture uses the insertion of tiny needles in specific points to regulate the Liver and correct the body’s dysfunction.
Acupuncture helps to:
• regulate brain chemistry by increasing serotonin
• calm the nervous system
• improve blood circulation,
• regulate hormone fluctuations
• decrease inflammation
As the body begins to function more effectively, migraine intensity and frequency are reduced drastically.