Acupuncture for headaches and migraines

Migraines can range from the odd day of sharp headaches to full-on conditions with light and sound sensitivity, nausea and vomiting and severe, debilitating pain. They are thought to begin as an electrical phenomenon in the higher brain that affects blood vessels, biochemistry, and causes inflammation. Chronic migraines are thought to affect approximately 2% of the population, which is partly due to the large array of health problems that can cause them – stress, insomnia, digestive disorders, spinal problems and hormonal changes are among the many potential factors1Mayo Clinic, 2020. Whatever the cause is, acupuncture can help reduce their frequency and severity.

Physiological effects of acupuncture

Acupuncture has been found to induce the following effects:

Chinese medicine view of migraines

Chinese medicine theory classifies migraine either due to external factors – such as wind, cold, dampness, or heat – or an internal disruption, and there are a number of clues as to which type of cause is responsible. For instance, migraines short in duration are typically externally-caused; whereas persistent migraines are typically due to disruptions in liver, spleen or kidney functions. In fact, the location and type of pain also tell us which is the problem area involved, as demonstrated by the graphic below:

With this personalised approach to diagnosing the cause of migraines (and in fact tension headaches too), acupuncture can address the root causes of the pain and resolve it instead of simply suppressing it temporarily.