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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 a deficiency of Kidney Yang

    Location of headache: Likely in the back of the head, though not necessarily involving the muscles of the neck and upper back.

    Herb Formula: You Gui Wan (Replenishing the Right Pill) In this case, the term "right" refers to the right kidney which is considered the source of "yang" energy in the body. Yang is roughly equivalent to metabolic heat.

    Tongue Appearance: pale and swollen, teeth marks, wetter appearance than usual. Yang deficiency is like saying that the cellular metabolism and the heat it creates is deficient. When this happens, there isn't enough Qi energy in the body to lift the warmth or blood up to the tongue to give it a pink color. Additionally, there isn't enough Qi energy in the body to give the tongue enough strength to maintain its own shape and so it takes on the shape of the teeth around its edges. The wet coating (not evident in this image) is due to the water metabolism issues that follow a lack of metabolic heat.

    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
    Cold hands and feet aggravated by stress: Qi Stagnation
    Cold hands and feet aggravated by PMS: Qi Stagnation

    Explanation: The Kidneys are the source of a few important substances in the body according to traditional Chinese medicine. We have the "Yin" or body fluids and cooling mechanisms and then we have the "Yang" or metabolic heat. Finally, we have the "Jing" which is what ends up turning into bone marrow and grey matter of the brain and central nervous system. When the Kidney Yin or Yang is deficient, this condition can give rise to a lack of marrow in the head which gives rise to a dull empty headache that is aggravated by fatigue. Its strange, but true.

    Other symptoms: pale face, sensitivity to cold or tendency to dress warmer than others, cold hands and feet. All of these symptoms are due to a lack of metabolic energy in the body. You're running cold because of what might be considered a hypothyroid condition in biomedicine. That doesn't mean you need to run to your doctor for some Synthroid, but that's one of the better analogies for Kidney Yang. Another analogy would be "adrenal exhaustion" which is kind of a fad diagnosis in alternative medicine these days.

    Other symptoms include sweating for no reason. This is due to the lack of energy in the body not being able to properly open and close the pores of the skin. Its okay to sweat when you're nervous or hot , but if you're sweating for no good reason, you may have a Kidney Yang deficiency. Other expressions of this Kidney deficiency is a nocturnal emission without a dream. The Kidneys are said to "secure the lower gates" which is to say, they're in charge of stuff coming out of the urethra (penis in males) and anus. So any inappropriate loss of substances through the penis, urethra or anus is considered a kidney deficiency. These losses can be urinary or fecal, so any incontinence will indicate a Kidney deficiency. This includes sperm incontinence (nocturnal emissions without a dream, or premature ejaculation) as well. The relationship of the kidneys to the bones will manifest as osteoporosis, weak knees, or chronic low back pain. Other examples of systems dominated by the Kidneys are reproductive functions so impotence or loss of libido can be a Kidney issue as well. Finally, the Kidney's relationship to the marrow of the body can give rise to dizziness and headaches that are aggravated by fatigue. Other symptoms of this syndrome include premature greying of the hair or hair loss in females.

    Applicable diseases: Chronic nephritis, diabetes, impotence, "adrenal exhaustion", hypothyroidism

    Cautions and warnings: If you really aren't deficient in "Kidney Yang" this formula may make you feel feverish. If this happens, either lower the dosage or stop taking this formula as this can lead to irritability, restlessness, and it can ultimately serve to damage the Jing you're hoping to nourish with this formula.

    If you run hot, taking a warming formula is going to aggravate that condition. This is really not a problem if the formula is being given to the right person, but if you're self-medicating and you have no TCM training, you may be making this mistake. By running hot, I'm saying that you're the first person to take off your coat as it warms up, or the last person to put it on. Other symptoms of "running hot" would include menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. You should be colder than others to take this formula, not warmer.

    Usage and prognosis: This syndrome is not one that happens overnight. As such, it cannot be cured overnight. It is a slow recovery and in some cases, specifically among the elderly, a complete cure really shouldn't be expected. The younger the patient who has Kidney Yang deficiency, the better the medical effects of this formula. I've seen some rather profound deficiencies respond within a week or two of beginning the herbal therapy, and I've seen patients who have to take a formula for up to six months before beginning to see any improvement in their condition. The rule of thumb that applies to chronic deficiencies is one year/one month. In other words, if you've had this condition for one year, expect one month worth of herbs to correct it.

    Another way of looking at the prognosis for this formula is that the most recent symptom that arose will be the first to be alleviated while the most distant symptoms to arise will take the longest to correct. If you only developed headaches a month ago, it shouldn't take long to see improvement on that front, but if you've also had cold hands and feet for thirty years, that'll take longer to address.

    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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