Offered by Jessica Ahmed, LAc, DiplOM
One of the most common conditions I see in my acupuncture practice is pain, and in particular, migraines and other types of headaches. For the 29 million Americans suffering from migraines, these headaches are a debilitating part of life that can strike unexpectedly and ruin a day (or even a week!).
Common symptoms include pain, irritability, light/noise sensitivity and nausea/vomiting. Medications may be effective at reducing the pain of migraines and other headaches, but there is so much you can do with natural medicine. Here are some tips, focusing on avoiding or reducing common triggers:
- DIET: Avoid foods that may trigger your migraines, which commonly include dairy, wheat, soy, coffee/other caffeine, artificial sweeteners, sugar and alcohol, as well as skipping meals.
- REDUCE STRESS: Stress is a common trigger. Find productive ways to manage stress such as yoga, meditation, regular exercise, acupuncture and massage.
- ACUPUNCTURE: Several points helpful for migraines are shown in the diagrams below (GB20, GB41, LI4), and you can rub these points to reduce the frequency and severity of many types of headaches. Acupuncture decreases headaches by improving circulation, regulating hormones, reducing stress, alleviating muscular tension and relaxing the nervous system.
- STRETCH: Neck pain or tension is common amongst migraine and headache sufferers, so find ways to gently stretch your neck. One important stretch is a simple forward fold. With bent or straight knees, bend forward at the waist, holding opposite elbows with your hands. Feel free to move your head back and forth and side to side.
- HERBS: I use Chinese herbs for stubborn migraines that do not respond to acupuncture alone. In these cases, there may be an underlying imbalance (related to stress, hormones, etc.) that needs to be addressed in order for the headaches to resolve.
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