Many readers have been asking me for more information about how acupuncture treats migraines. I thought it might be helpful to show some recent case studies of real patients who have the most common types of migraines. Each patient is evaluated and an individualized treatment plan is created that may include Acupuncture, Dietary Therapy, Manual Therapy (such as Cupping, Moxabustion or Gua Sha) and Chinese herbal medicine. Are you tired of cookie cutter medicine? Well, read on and you will see that we always tailor the treatment to the individual patient.
Migraine Caused By Poor Digestion
‘Mary’ is a patient with a so many stressful health issues for a young woman in her twenties. She has been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and subsequently developed ocular migraines. She originally sought acupuncture and dietary therapy for help with her digestive issues. She had extreme diarrhea which made it difficult to work and lead a normal life. After doinig a complete health history, feeling her pulses and examining her tongue, I diagnosed Mary with Spleen yang deficiency and yin deficiency. We created an individualized dietary plan with her input–because the only effective diet is the one you can stick with. Together with weekly acupuncture treatments, the severity of her digestive issues became less and less. Over time, I made recommendations for a couple targeted nutritional supplements, which Mary found to be helpful. She was eventually able to go off one medication and reduce the dosage of another. As her digestion improved, she was amazed that her migraines went completely away. Occasionally she had a short episode of blurred vision, but had no pain. Mary is thrilled at what acupuncture and dietary therapy has done for her quality of life!
The Chicken or the Egg? Migraines and Allergies
I first saw my patient ‘Natalie’ for chronic pain conditions that had troubled her for many years. After acupuncture eliminated the chronic pain, Natalie asked me if there was anything that could be done about her serious allergies. As we went deeper into her health history she revealed that she also had chronic migraines which worsened during times of stress and during allergy season. Natalie’s allergies were very severe and of 40 years duration. She was on multiple medications, but like many allergy patients the meds just didn’t seem to work anymore. Natalie was not interested in dietary therapy as she felt her diet was good enough, but she was open to taking Chinese herbs. Based on her diagnosis according to Chinese Medicine I was able to recommend a patent herbal formula in tablet form that contained 15 different herbs. Though a single herb can have a strong action that creates side effects, Chinese Medicine uses complex formulas have been developed over thousands of years using multiple herbs to produce a synergistic effect, and eliminate side effects. We continued with weekly acupuncture for allergies, changing the focus of our previous sessions which had been centered on relieving her back pain. Within days Natalie noticed a massive improvement of her allergy symptoms. Eventually she was able to discontinue all her allergy medications. While she still had some mild allergy symptoms during the worst of the allergy season, her migraines disappeared completely.
Teen Migraines: Pain Relief Without Medication
My 17 year old patient, ‘Shana’, was going through a rough time. She had recently gone off off her birth control medication as she felt worse on it. She had chronic back pain; irregular and painful menses; and daily headaches and migraines. Her diet was extremely poor (as is the case of many teens) and her mood swings were creating chaos at home. Her doctors were urging her to go back on the pill and to go on anti-depressants, but she knew these were not right for her and her mother did not like the idea of her being on so many pharmaceutical drugs. Shana’s migraines clearly worsened around her menstrual cycle and had a hormonal component. She had other symptoms that pointed to hormonal imbalance like her irregular, painful periods; mood swings; and acne. While Shana enjoyed cooking she didn’t really have much cooking skills or experience, and both her parents, busy with working full-time, did not make time to cook from scratch. Too many of their meals were fast food, process food or junk food.
I really love to give my teen patients my favorite cookbook and encourage them to cook at home. Oftentimes, as in this case, the parents realize that the whole family will benefit from more regular meals and get into the spirit of it. I encouraged Shana and her parents to set aside at least one or two times a week to cook together using recipes from the cookbook I gifted them. We spend a lot of time reviewing the principles of a good diet and as always, a diet plan is created together.
While Shana’s improved diet was the foundation for good health in the future, it was not enough of an intervention to balance her hormones–she needed stronger medicine. Weekly acupuncture eliminated her back pain and migraines and helped make her periods more regular and less painful. After a couple months she still had some lingering irregularity, pain and menstrual headaches, so I recommended a patent herbal formula which she took for six weeks. At that point, all remaining symptoms were cleared up. Shana continues with monthly treatment to keep her on track.
If you think we can help you with migraines or headaches, make an appointment now!