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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 Turbid Phlegm

    Location of headache: could be anywhere, and is often everywhere. In fact, this kind of headache has been described in the classical literature as the feeling of having a sash tied too tightly around the head.

    Because of the fact that phlegm usually has some relationship to the functions of the digestive system according to traditional Chinese medicine, one possible location for this particular headache in its early states would be the forehead. The forehead is dominated by the Stomach channel.

    yang ming type headache

    Herb Formula: Ban Xia Bai Zhu TIan Ma Tang (Pinellia, Atractylodis Macrocephala, and Gastroidia Decoction)

    Tongue Appearance: Thick, sticky, "soy cheese" or what we might call in the west "peanut butter" coating. This is a clear manifestation of phlegm. It looks heavy, turbid, and sticky which is pretty much consistent with its effect on the body's systems as well. It gums up the nervous system's ability to do its job too. This is the cause of your headache.

    thick sticky soy curd tongue coating

    Also see:
    With nausea: Liver Channel Cold
    With no appetite: Qi and Blood Deficiency
    With no appetite: Qi Stagnation
    With dizziness: Liver Wind
    With dizziness: Qi and Blood Deficiency
    With dizziness: Yang Deficiency
    WIth dizziness: Yin Deficiency
    With hypertension: Liver Wind
    With common cold: Wind-Cold
    With damp weather: Cold-Damp

    Explanation: This headache arrives from a more complex pattern of problems in the body. This syndrome we call wind-phlegm. The wind portion can be stress induced while the phlegm part most often comes from dietary problems such as a high fat or damp/phlegm producing type diet. The premise here is that you've got too much fat in the blood stream or meridian system and that is getting whipped up by the wind caused by stress. This causes the phlegm to go flying up into the head, causing the type of headache that arrives with a very thick tongue coating and is induced by stress or anger.

    If you look at this biomedically, the wind may look like something going on in the nervous system while the phlegm component could be described as plaque or cholesterol. In either case, you're probably going to be seeing a thick tongue coating and some sort of response to stress. That could either manifest as a quick anger and restlessness or some other emotional component. Joy is a form of stress too and we can't always assume that stress is a response to something that we don't like, it can be a sudden rush of emotion due to something that does please us.

    I've seen this type of headache arrive with a stroke or transitory ischemic attack (mini-stroke as they are sometimes called"). This doesn't mean you're going to have a stroke if you have a thick tongue coating and a headache, but it does mean that you should take care of your health to prevent that sort of thing from happening.

    Other symptoms: vertigo, profuse sputum that is usually clear or white and frothy, feeling of stuffiness in the chest.

    Applicable diseases: Meniere's disease, transitory ischemic attacks.

    Cautions and warnings: The only thing you need to watch out for with this formula is that you really do have wind-phlegm. If you don't have any phlegm, the drying function of this formula could dehydrate you. Just make sure that you have a thick tongue coating before taking this formula and you should be fine.

    Usage and prognosis: Wind is light and easy to move. Phlegm is quite the opposite. What this means is that the wind component of the problem this formula addresses will respond more quickly than the phlegm component. Still, I've seen a hospitalized patient respond to this formula in as little as three days. For more chronic conditions such as Meniere's disease, you might find that it takes closer to a few weeks before you see a significant change in your condition.

    Part of this syndrome has been aggravated by lifestyle choices. The wind component may be due to stress and so stress reduction techniques may be applicable to assist the formula in achieving its therapeutic goal. The phlegm aspect of this syndrome too can be addressed with a diet that is lower in fat and cold foods. Cold foods include dairy (which are also fatty) and raw fruits and vegetables. TCM loves vegies, but suggests that they are at least lightly stir-fried in just a little oil before consuming. This will warm up their temperature. When we talk about "cold foods" in TCM we're talking about both their temperature at the time of being served (such as right out of the freezer for ice cream or the refrigerator for a raw salad) but also cold in property such as mint, which we can all understand has a cooling property based on its taste.

    Most people are surprised to hear that TCM isn't very enthusiastic about raw salads as they're considered so darned healthy by American culture. While most of us can eat raw cold foods, there are many who really can't. Still, if you can't give up your raw vegies, I suggest that you eat them only for lunch around noon, or even better, eat them around 3 pm during the warmest part of the day. This is the time when your digestion can handle the cold energy the easiest. Eating a cold salad at night would be the worse time.

    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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