Headache, Migraine and Dizziness

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The pain that headache and migraine sufferers endure can impact every aspect of their lives. Acupuncture can offer powerful relief without the side effects that prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine have been used to relieve Headaches and Migraines, as well as their underlying causes, for thousands of years and is a widely accepted form of treatment for headaches in our society. There are acupuncturists that specialize in the treatment of headaches and migraines and can help you manage your pain with acupuncture and Chinese herbs alone, or as part of a comprehensive treatment program.

Diagnosis with Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine does not recognize migraines and recurring headaches as one particular syndrome. Instead, it aims to treat the specific symptoms that are unique to each individual using a variety of of techniques such as acupuncture, Chinese herbs, tui-na massage, and energetic exercises to restore imbalances found in the body. Therefore, your diagnosis and treatment will depend on a number of variables: Is the headache behind your eyes and temples, or is it located more on the top of your head? When do your headaches occur (i.e. night, morning, after eating)? Do you find that a cold compress or a dark room can alleviate some of the pain? Do you describe the pain as dull and throbbing, or sharp and piercing?

How Acupuncture Works

These questions will help create a clear picture on which your practitioners can create a treatment plan specifically for you. The basic foundation for Oriental medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee). This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points located near or on the surface of the skin which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to achieve the desired effect.

The Acupuncture Treatment

Acupuncture points to treat headaches are located all over the body. During the acupuncture treatment, tiny needles will be placed along your legs, arms, shoulders, and perhaps even your big toe!

There seems to be little sensitivity to the insertion of acupuncture needles. They are so thin that several acupuncture needles can go into the middle of a hypodermic needle. Occasionally, there is a brief moment of discomfort as the needle penetrates the skin, but once the needles are in place, most people relax and even fall asleep for the duration of the treatment.

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary. Typical treatments last from 50 to 60 minutes, with the patient being treated two times a week. Some symptoms are relieved after the first treatment, while more severe or chronic ailments often require multiple treatments.


Dizziness may range from a very slight dizziness, sometimes on changing posture, to very severe vertigo with loss of balance when everything around seems to be spinning. The term ‘dizziness’ in TCM also includes the very common sensation of ‘muzziness’ or fuzziness’ and a heavy feeling as if the head was full of cotton wool with inability to think properly and concentrate. In western medicine a diagnosis of vertigo or meniere’s disease may be given which can be treated just as successfully.

The Asians have observed that emotions such as anger, frustration, resentment, bottled-up hatred can all cause dizziness. This type of dizziness is know as ‘Liver Yang Rising’. It is the Liver organ which is affected and an imbalance will cause energy to suddenly rise to the head and cause dizziness. This type of dizziness can be quite severe, depending on just how much the Liver is affected.

Dizziness can also appear after many years of overworking and/ or excessive sexual activity. Gradually the body becomes depleted of energy and dizziness occurs.

Diet has an important part to play in this condition as well. If the digestive system is weakened for whatever reason and the patient has a diet rich in food which is difficult for the body to digest, then the digestive system becomes ‘clogged up’. This results in the production of ‘Damp’ or ‘Phlegm’ which can be seen on the tongue as a thick white/ yellow coating. This Phlegm lodges in the head and gives rise to a type of dizziness which is often very severe and can come on suddenly.

There may also be blurred vision and a sensation of muzziness and heaviness of the head. Consumption of greasy foods and dairy products can be main sources for this dizziness.

These are the main causes of dizziness in TCM. Each requires a different treatment approach and appropriate lifestyle/ dietary changes

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