Theory

Chinese Herbal and Acupuncture Treatment Protocols for Headache - Formulas, Protocols, TCM Diagnoses


Headache - Basics

There are four major categories of headache--vascular, tension, inflammatory and traction. The most common of these are tension headaches, which result from tightened facial and neck muscles and can be brought on by stress or anxiety. The most common form of vascular headache is a migraine, which is characterized by sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and intense pain on one or both sides of the head. Tension and inflammatory headaches are generally linked to other conditions, such as stroke or sinus infection.
Below you will find alternative and natural treatment options including those from a Chinese Medicine perspective for headache.


Headache - Diagnostic Patterns

The Chinese Medicine treatment of headache generally involves arriving at the appropriate TCM diagnosis or pattern. This pattern within the individual is what treatment is based on not the general condition (see treating the cause and not the symptoms).

The following patterns may represent the underlying contributing factors for the development of headache:



Headache - Acupuncture Protocols

The treatment of conditions with acupuncture can be a complicated endeavor that should only be undertaken by individuals with a deep understanding of the underlying Chinese Medicine theory (and/or whatever system being used for treatment). There are many approaches, but generally speaking few viable approaches are involved on a point to condition basis. Rather using proper diagnostic procedures the patients diagnostic pattern is ascertained and that is what is treated. The protocols listed here exemplify some of these clinical approaches.

The following Acupuncture Treatment Protocols May Be Used With Headache


Headache - Formulas From Our Store

The following herbal formulas are potentially useful in the process of treating headache. For a complete list from our store with more details see our headache formula section.


Headache - Questions

Need treatment options for headache and not finding the information you need?

Using our forums our staff and our community may offer guidance with regards to the treatment of headache.



Headache - Related Acupuncture Points

The following (24) acupuncture points may be useful for headache. A subset of these could potentially be useful with acupressure stimulation and/or tongren therapy methods as well.

Generally treatment would be based on the TCM patterns listed above instead of selecting points by function alone, (see general points selection rules.)



Headache - Related Chinese Herbs

The following (19) chinese herbs may be useful for headache. In most cases, however, treatment with Chinese Herbal Medicine is done with herbal formulas based on the TCM patterns listed above instead of selecting herbs by function alone. When available, relevant formulas will appear below and/or in the store listings above.



The following (15) Formulas TCM Herbal Formulas May Be Useful For Headache

Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Wan

  • Pinellia, Atractylodis and Gastrodia Combination
    • Nausea with possible vomitting from combination of damp with liver qi stagnation causing rebellious qi.
    • Dizziness, migraines, and vertigo from damp and liver wind rising.
    • Heavy or oppressed sensation of the chest.
  • Treat Phlegm
  • Transform Phlegm and Extinguish Wind
  • Cautions
  • This formula should not be used to treat dizziness or vertigo due to liver yang rising patterns.

Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao Wan

  • Ligusticum Tea Pills
    • Headaches, primarily from wind-cold (but used with wind-heat/wind-damp), with neck stiffness, muscle aches and/or nasal discharge.
    • In certain cases may be useful for migraines, frequent headaches - particularly when they are influenced by cold weather and/or changing from warm to cold environments.
    • Rhinitis, sinusitis.
  • Expel Wind
  • Release Wind from the Skin and Channels
  • Cautions
  • Pregnancy
    • Use only with direction during pregnancy.
    • Avoid in cases of headache from liver yang rising or deficiencies of qi and/or blood.

Gan Mao Ling

  • Miraculous Cold Pills
    • Common cold and flu patterns, particularly at the early stages.
    • Can be used in lie of actual bacterial or viral infection as long as flu or cold like symptoms are manifest.
  • Clear Heat
  • Clear Heat and Relieve Toxicity

Jia Wei Gui Pi Wan

  • Augmented Restore The Spleen Decoction
    • A combination of jia wei xiao yao wan and gui pi wan - similar effects but with more spleen qi and blood tonification.
    • A range of stress related issues - essentially mixes of stagnation with underlying deficiencies.
    • Potential uses with immune / idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) and other bruising/bleeding issues with appropriate diagnostic factors.
  • Harmonize
  • Regulate and Harmonize the Liver and Spleen

Jia Wei Xiao Yao Wan

  • Free and Easy Wanderer Pills
    • Derived from the base formula, xiao yao wan, an important formula for liver qi stagnation with herbs added to clear heat.
    • Liver qi stagnation - menstrual issues, painful cycles, irregular cycles, breast distention, PMS, acne.
    • A range of mild to moderate psychological issues arising from liver qi stagnation such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, insomnia, anger issues, etc.
    • Physical symptoms from liver qi stagnation such as headaches, tightness in the chest, cold hands and feet, various eye issues.
  • Harmonize
  • Regulate and Harmonize the Liver and Spleen

Long Dan Xie Gan Wan

  • Gentiana Purge Liver Formula
    • Hypochondriac pain, bitter taste in the mouth, irritability, easily angered, headache, dizziness, red, and possibly sore, eyes resulting from liver fire rising.
    • Urinary symptoms such as painful, hot urination perhaps with swollen genitalia, dark and/or turbid urine from damp heat accumulation in the lower jiao.
    • Leukorrhea of yellow color with a strong odor.
  • Clear Heat
  • Clear Heat From The Organs
  • Cautions
    • Not for long term use.
    • Not for patients who present with yin, yang, and/or blood deficiency.
    • Use with caution with patients that present with spleen qi deficiency.

Pian Tou Tong Wan

Qing Bi Wan

Tian Ma Gou Teng Wan

Tong Qiao Huo Xue Wan

  • Unblock the Orifices and Invigorate the Blood Decoction
    • Blood stagnation particularly in the head - migraines and/or headaches with other sensory factors - auras, sound sensitivity, etc.
    • Dizziness, tinnitus, hair loss - with underlying blood stagnation signs.
    • Stroke, seizure disorder, post concussion headaches.
    • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Invigorate the Blood
  • Invigorate the Blood and Dispel Blood Stasis
  • Cautions
  • Pregnancy
    • Avoid during pregnancy.
    • Avoid with heavy menstrual bleeding.
    • Use only under direction if you are taking blood thinners.
    • Generally not for long term use.

Xiao Yao Wan

  • Free and Easy Wanderer
    • Depression, anxiety, Headache, vertigo, hypochondriac pain, fatigue, poor appetite, bitter taste in the mouth.  In women - PMS, breast distention, irregular menstruation, fertility issues.
    • The Pulse will be wiry and deficient and the Tongue will be pale-red/purplish.
  • Harmonize
  • Regulate and Harmonize the Liver and Spleen

Xie Xin Wan

  • Drain the Epigastrium Formula
  • Signs of damp-heat with interior clumping which may settle into the abdominal region and/or rise upward to the head.  Fever, irritability, red eyes, constipation, dark urine, flushed face - middle warmer issues - jaundice, dysentery, tongue/mouth ulcers.

    Pulse will be be wiry and rapid and the Tongue will be red, swollen with a yellow greasy tongue coating.

  • Clear Heat
  • Clear Heat and Relieve Toxicity

Xin Yi Qing Fei Wan

  • Magnolia Flower Drink To Clear The Lungs
    • Colds and/or allergies with heat signs (yellow mucus and/or fever, etc.).
    • Chronic sinus congestions / issues, chronic sinusitis, chronic rhinitis, loss of smell.
    • Nasal polyps with the right underlying factors.
    • Difficult to resolve sinus issues with thick, sticky mucus.
    • Headaches from sinus congestion.
  • Release the Exterior
  • Release Exterior Disorders with Head and Neck Symptoms
  • Cautions
    • May not be appropriate with heat signs from lung yin deficiency.

Xin Yi Wan

Xue Fu Zhu Yu Wan

  • Blood Stasis Relief Pills
    • Qi and Blood stagnation - pain, cardiovascular issues, physical organ issues.
    • Coronary artery disease, angina and other cardiovascular issues.
    • Hepatitis and other liver function issues.
    • Migraines, headaches, neuralgia from most causes.
    • A range of menstrual issues including dysmenorrhea, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, fibroids - particularly with pain and/or bleeding.
    • Certain diagnostic types of psychological illness, schizophrenia, bipolar, chronic depression, etc.
  • Invigorate the Blood
  • Invigorate the Blood and Dispel Blood Stasis
  • Cautions
  • Pregnancy
    • Avoid during pregnancy.
    • Avoid with heavy menstrual bleeding.
    • Use only under direction if you are taking blood thinners.
    • Generally not for long term use.



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