acupuncture and herbs for headaches
headaches benefit from acupuncture and herbs
Index to This Headache
  • Location of Headache
  • Herb Formula
  • Tongue Appearance
  • Similar Syndromes
  • Explanation of Mechanism
  • Other Symptoms
  • Applicable Diseases
  • Cautions and Warnings
  • Usage and Prognosis
  • How to Obtain this Formula

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  • radiating from neck
  • forehead
  • sinuses
  • behind the eyes
  • temples
  • one sided
  • top of the head

  • radiating from neck
  • Empty feeling (see fatigue)
  • Sharp pain fixed in location
  • With stiff shoulders (acute)
  • With stiff shoulders (chronic)
  • Throbbing
  • Heavy sensation
  • Dull pain (see fatigue)

  • stress
  • menopause
  • cold or damp weather
  • fatigue
  • PMS
  • dull and throbbing
  • during period
  • after period
  • dry windy weather
  • allergies
  • common cold
  • flu
  • standing upright
  • laying down

  • morning
  • the afternoon
  • the evening
  • sleep period
  • pre-dawn hours

  • cold hands and feet
  • hypothyroidism
  • frequent urination
  • prefers warm drinks
  • prefers cold drinks
  • often thirsty
  • night sweats
  • hot flashes
  • menopause
  • dry mouth or throat
  • better when laying down
  • when hungry
  • after period
  • high blood pressure

  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • lack of appetite
  • phlegm after eating
  • arthritis
  • physical trauma
  • purple beneath eyes
  • sharp pain fixed location
  • chills more than fever
  • fever more than chills
  • facial tics
  • testicular pain
  • Headaches Due to Cold or Damp Weather

    Location of headache: in the back of the head near the neck, top of head.

    The trajectory of the Urinary Bladder Meridian will generally be where you'll feel the headache due to cold-damp in the channels. I myself find them showing up where the red is indicated in this image. Others report it shows up just about anywhere along the black lines here. These lines travel down to the lower back. Low back pain is another common response to cold-damp in the U.B. channel.

    tai yang type headache

    Herb Formula: Qiang Huo Sheng Qi Tang (Notopterygium Dispel Dampness Decoction)

    Tongue Appearance: Likely a thick tongue coating, or swollen (indicated by the teeth indentations around the edge). Because this headache is due to an external problem, it may not actually show up on the tongue. Still, those people with pre-existing internal dampness will likely be more sensitive to damp weather than others. Internal dampness will show up with the teethmarks and/or the thick tongue coating.

    Those who suffer from internal cold may be more sensitive to cold weather. The tongue may manifest with a pale and swollen tongue as the cold prevents any warmth from giving the tongue a red color and the swollen size is indicative of the fluid metabolism issues that follow a lack of metabolic heat in the body. We call that "dampness".

    tongue with thick coating

    pale color tongue body

    Also see:
    Radiating from back of head: Yang Deficiency
    Radiating from back of head: Liver Wind
    Radiating from back of head: Qi Stagnation
    With common cold: Wind-Cold
    With fever or flu: Wind-Heat

    Explanation: This formula can be used for a wide variety of problems that are aggravated by cold or damp weather. In Western culture we have a sort of linguistic awareness that cold energy can get into our body and make us sick, hence the term "catching a cold". In TCM, we can catch a few other types of weather as well. In this case, dampness is getting into the body and preventing the flow of Qi through the channels leading to a headache. Damp energy is particularly problematic for Qi flow through the meridians as it is thick and heavy. In addition, it can make the body feel thick and heavy, or the pain feel heavy in nature. It can be a pounding headache, aggravated by bending over or rapid movement of the head, and when most acute can lead to nausea or lack of appetite if the dampness gets into the stomach also.

    This formula is traditionally used for when you have body aches with the common cold, so if that is a problem for you, you can use this formula as well.

    Many arthritic conditions are attributed to dampness getting into the meridians from outside the body, hence the aches and pains that are aggravated by cold or damp weather. If you have both a headache and arthritic responses to damp weather, you'll do very well on this formula. If you only get arthritis with damp weather, try this formula's cousin called " Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang".

    Other symptoms: muscle aches anywhere in the body, aversion to cold weather (as in dressing warmly even when others don't), nausea, lack of appetite, foggy thinking, aches and pains along the spine especially the lower back.

    Applicable diseases: common cold, rheumatic arthritis, sciatica, all of which are aggravated by cold or damp weather.

    Cautions and warnings: This formula should be used sparingly in very weak patients as it has a strong dispelling property which can end up aggravating their fatigue. What this means is that when the formula pushes out the dampness and/or cold, it can make you sweat or otherwise push out some of the Qi energy required to perform your body's other functions. If you're already fatigued, pushing out Qi could aggravate that fatigue. It's still okay to do, but as soon as the problem has passed, stop using the formula. For those with a stronger constitution or lack of fatigue, the issue isn't quite as important.

    Usage and prognosis: This formula can assist the patient while the weather is cold, damp, or the barometric pressure is dropping. For this purpose a full dosage is recommended, perhaps even taken more frequently than the usual three times per day. You can take this formula during the headache as often as six times daily.

    When the weather is not aggravating the headache, it can be okay to take the formula at a much lower dosage such as once or twice per day, just to help your body deal with the underlying problem of not being warm and dry enough. There are other formulas that might actually be better to address those underlying issues, but if you only want to use this one formula, you can use it that way. See the cautions and warnings too.

    How to obtain your formula: You can purchase the formula mentioned in this article by simply clicking on its name. Another option is to obtain this formula modified for your unique situation.

    Other locations to purchase this formula include your friendly neighborhood Chinese herb pharmacy. You'll likely need to live near a Chinatown to obtain your herbs there. They'll probably come in raw form (twigs, branches, etc.) and you'll have to take them home and cook them into a nasty tasting brew. This may provide the strongest medical efficacy, but it is also the most hassle.

    In some cases, the formulas that are described in these articles are available in premade capsule, tablet, or pill form. The name of the formula may be spelled or described slightly different, and I can't really anticipate how they'll end up looking on the package, but they too are out there, most frequently at those Chinese herb pharmacies, but often at health food stores or stores that target consumers of natural or organic products.

    Finally, acupuncture and TCM schools tend to carry a rather extensive stock of these kinds of herbal medicines. Most of them have a clinic for people to come in and get treatments. Here's a list of the schools, perhaps there is one near you... TCM schools. Here are some herb suppliers too, they may be able to provide you some help in locating your formula: herb suppliers.

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