Icepick, cluster, heavy towel. These aren’t MMA moves – they’re types of headaches.
It’s no surprise that we have such brutal names for the headaches we experience. While some headaches are just mild annoyances, a bad episode can make you want to curl up and hide for days. And while headaches are common, they’re not normal. This frustrating pain is your body’s way of letting you know that you’re off-balance, and need to regain your equilibrium.
If you are tired of suffering through your recurrent headaches or migraines, it’s time to take action with acupuncture. Read on to find out how Wellnest Denver Acupuncture can help you overcome your migraines naturally so you can live pain-free.
What Causes Migraines Headaches?
A migraine is more than just a bad headache. It causes an intense, pounding pain that lasts from a few hours to a few days. Other symptoms, like nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, and dizziness can also occur with migraine headaches.
While researchers are unsure of the exact causes of migraines, they believe it has to do with blood vessel dilation, oxygen flow, and the release of prostaglandins.
What causes these biological changes that lead to a migraine varies from person to person. These are some of the most common triggers:
- Certain foods and dietary triggers
- Nitrates, tyramine, sodium, MSG
- Changes in the weather
- Increased stress
- Lack of sleep
- Hormone imbalances or fluctuations
- Certain smells or light exposure
Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture for Headaches
There’s a classic saying in Chinese medicine: “where there is no movement, there is pain. Where there is movement there is no pain.” This applies to all types of pain, from joint pain to abdominal pain to head pain and migraines.
Acupuncture is so powerful against pain because it helps circulate Qi and blood throughout the body, restoring proper movement and flow.
But Chinese medicine for pain is not just about getting things moving. If you’re someone who gets regular headaches, you’ll agree – not all headaches are the same. That’s why Chinese medicine is also about understanding the unique presentation of your headaches to create a treatment that not only eases pain but prevents those headaches from coming back.
In Chinese medicine, we recognize that there are many different types of headaches that require different types of treatment to get to the root cause. Some are dull, others are sharp. Some are in the front of your head, others radiate down your neck and shoulders. To understand your unique migraines or headaches, we’ll consider:
Wellnest Denver Offers Acupuncture that Targets Migraines
Your acupuncturist, Garryn, is a board-certified, licensed acupuncturist in Colorado with a special interest in cosmetic acupuncture, nutrition, women’s health issues, stress, fertility care, digestive issues, and hormonal health.
Where your head pain occurs
Where you feel your headaches corresponds to different types of headaches in Chinese medicine. We use the location of your headache to determine which acupuncture channels to target and which points will help you get the best relief. For example, headaches that occur behind the eyes or at the top of the head are often related to the Liver channel, whereas headaches on the back of the head are more closely linked to the Urinary Bladder channel.
What your headaches feel like
Is your headache dull or sharp? Throbbing or constant? Empty or heavy? Knowing the nature of your headache helps us decide what balancing treatment will most quickly relieve the pain and prevent future episodes.
Your headache or migraine triggers
Knowing your triggers is important to help avoid migraines when possible, but they can also give us clues about the root cause of your headaches. We’ll look at potential triggers like certain foods, weather, environment, stressors, menstrual cycle, and more.
Other symptoms that come with your headaches
The symptoms that accompany your headaches help us understand the overall headache pattern and the imbalances at play.
What makes your head feel better
What eases your pain is just as helpful to know as what causes it. Do you rush to put a cold press or bag of frozen peas on your throbbing forehead? Internal heat and inflammation could be the culprit. Does a nap ease your pain? You could have a Qi (energy) deficiency.
Your general state of health and constitution
Beyond your headache symptoms, we’ll also look at your overall state of health. We’ll look at your energy, digestion, immunity, sleep, stress, and mood to help you heal your headaches through whole-body health.
The Science Behind Acupuncture for Headaches
Acupuncture has been helping people overcome pain conditions like headaches for thousands of years. Now, modern technology helps us understand the science behind acupuncture’s ability to treat and prevent migraines.
One of the most convincing studies was a systematic review of 22 different clinical trials on acupuncture and migraines. After analyzing the results of nearly 5000 migraine sufferers, researchers concluded that acupuncture has a substantial positive effect on those headaches. Overall, the frequency of headaches dropped by half for at least six months in those who had acupuncture treatment.
Other studies shed light on why acupuncture for migraines works:
Acupuncture releases endorphins
Endorphins are the body’s natural pain-killing chemicals. These endorphins and other feel-good chemicals (like serotonin) are released into the bloodstream and instantly quiet your pain during an acupuncture treatment. The effects can last hours and build up over time with regular acupuncture treatments.
Acupuncture balances hormones
Hormone imbalance is a common cause of migraines, especially for women. These “menstrual migraines” or “hormonal headaches” can occur when taking (or stopping) the birth control pill, or during menstruation, pregnancy, postpartum, hormone replacement therapy, or menopause. Basically, anytime your hormone levels fluctuate.
Acupuncture helps hormonal headaches by restoring the body’s natural hormone balance and helping the liver process and detox excess estrogen. Along with treating migraines, it can also help ease other hormonal imbalances like PMS, infertility, hot flashes, thyroid disease, and more.
Acupuncture reduces stress
It’s no secret that stress can trigger a migraine – or at least that pulsing tension between your eyebrows that starts whenever your stress levels rise.
Managing stress is a must if you want to overcome your headaches once and for all. Thankfully, acupuncture makes dealing with stress easier.
Acupuncture relieves stress by calming the nervous system and turning your body’s parasympathetic mode (rest mode) on. It also helps naturally slow your heart rate, deepen your breathing, and reduce blood pressure.
On a biochemical level, acupuncture has been shown to reduce circulating cortisol levels that result from chronic high stress. It also helps clear away the inflammation that stress leaves behind to give your cells the chance to bounce back.
Get to the Root of Your Migraines and Live Pain-Free
The key to stopping your pain and preventing migraines is fixing them from the root. At Wellnest Denver, we help you unpack complicated headache symptoms and triggers and start a headache treatment plan designed for long-term relief.
Curious if acupuncture could help you relieve your headaches? Schedule a brief consultation to find out if acupuncture is right for you!