Acupuncture for Migraines & Headaches

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Effective Treatment for Migraines and Headaches


Migraines and headaches are some of the most prevalent complaints in clinics. Almost everyone has headaches from time to time, and ten percent of North Americans suffer from chronic migraines and headaches. Conventional medicinal treatment for migraines and headaches are typically different pharmaceutical drugs. These often alleviate the symptoms but usually do not result in complete healing.  Approximately 100,000 Americans die each year from prescription drugs, and many more suffer from side effects. People are looking for natural treatment such as Acupuncture for migraines and headaches. Alternative medicinal therapies aim to address the root cause of an illness and not just the symptoms. A proper diagnosis helps to tailor the treatment for a specific patient.

This article will review the various natural methods to treat migraines and headaches and provide some case studies. If you suffer from migraines or headaches, this article will you find the right, natural treatment.

What is Migraine?

There are several different headache types, with migraines typically causing the most disturbance. The name migraine comes from the ancient Greek word “Hemicrania,” meaning ‘half ahead.’ A single-side headache characterizes a migraine, usually throbbing hard. They typically worsen with any mental or physical effort or strain. It can last between a few hours to a couple of days. Migraines usually start with pain above the eye, which slowly intensifies and develops into an unbearable headache. Some people experience symptoms that precede a migraine’s onset, such as sensitivity to light, vision disturbances, dizziness, and nausea.

Acupuncture for headache

What are Headaches?

There are several types of headache diagnosis. Among the most common are tension headaches, migraines and cluster headaches. Headaches may appear in various places in the head, with different sensations like a stabbing feeling, pressure, throbbing etc.
If the headache appears once every few weeks and disappears after a few hours, there is no need to be too worried, even if you use a pain killer to alleviate it. When headaches develop frequently and last for a long time, they start to impact life quality; this is when you must look for adequate treatment.

A range of factors contributes to headaches, including emotional stress, inadequate nutrition/hydration, restlessness and tension in the shoulder or neck muscles. Hormonal changes like menstruation and menopause, as well as allergies, can also cause headaches.

Headaches will keep reoccurring when treated with drugs until we treat the headaches’ cause.

When should we be concerned about headaches? When the headache does not get better for longer than a few days, we must go to a doctor to eliminate the possibility of a more complicated illness.

Alternative Medicine for Migraines and Headaches

acupuncture for headaches and migraines

Acupuncture for Migraines and Headaches

Using Acupuncture for Migraines and Headaches can be very useful. The results are often immediate in relieving pain and sensitivity. With Balance Method Acupuncture, in most cases, the pain is alleviated during the acupuncture session. Patients who suffer from migraines or headaches can come for treatment even amid the headache to relieve pain and reduce drug consumption.

Acupuncture for headaches is usually done in points on the hand or foot. In the first session, we go through a diagnosis to check the causes of the migraine. Apart from alleviating the pain, acupuncture treats the internal root cause that creates the migraine. Diagnosis with Chinese medicine helps to change aspects concerning lifestyle. Factors may include drinking more water, nutritional changes, more rest or other lifestyle changes.

Muscular Tension

In many cases, patients report that the headaches stem from the neck or are affected by muscular tension. Sometimes it will be connected to poor posture or straining movements, and in many cases, muscular tension is related to mental pressure or problems in the neck vertebrae. Headaches that have to do with mental stress will appear in times of more significant stress or sometimes in times of stress relief. Many people will experience headaches on the weekend connected to decreasing mental stress; this is explained further in the article.
For women who suffer from headaches connected to menstruation, PMS or menopause; Acupuncture will treat this through hormonal balancing.

Case study: Acupuncture for migraines and headaches

Twenty-eight-year-old Helen came to the clinic having suffered from migraines for a few years. “I don’t know what to do anymore,” she says. Once a week, she is completely disabled. She has tried various medicines to help her in the past and is no longer effective in treating the pain. Also, all of her medical tests that she’s had done are normal. Helen has a slim physique, a somewhat pale face and works in high-stress work ten hours a day. After work, to release some tension, she often goes out and smokes and drinks alcohol. Her diet consists of inconsistent meals and includes salads, white bread, cheese, coffee and chocolate.

After checking the pulse and tongue, a Chinese medicine diagnosis was given to Helen: Helen has a liver blood deficiency that causes a rise of Yang (heat) to the head. Blood deficiency is a common phenomenon among women as a result of blood loss during monthly menstruation. Maintaining a slim body can also often result in poor diet patterns, which damage blood production in the body. The liver, which is greatly affected by emotions like stress and anger, creates heat. If there is insufficient blood which has the role of cooling down the heat, then the heat that rises upward in a firm motion ignites the migraine.

The migraine treatment identified for this case is a series of Balance Method Acupuncture for migraines and headaches, a diet plan for migraines, and a combination of Tui na for the neck and shoulders. The Acupuncture for Migraines and Headaches treatment given to Helen included acupuncture points that soothe the liver and reinforce the blood. Following this, a Tui na therapy to release neck and shoulder muscles. Also, medicinal herbs for migraines were tailored for her diagnosis.

Helen started eating regular meals, more cooked food with elements that reinforce the blood, such as orange vegetables, meat, eggs and dried fruits. She agreed to cut down on coffee, drink only one cup a day, and reduce chocolate consumption. Helen was asked to come for two sessions in the first two weeks and then once a week. In the first week, she already experienced headache relief. After a series of ten treatments, Helen was already down to one migraine a month, and it was far less acute. Today, Helen hardly suffers from headaches at all, and she comes once a month for maintenance treatment of migraine acupuncture.

Tui na and Shiatsu for headaches

Combined with acupuncture, it is possible to use other supporting Chinese medicine methods to treat migraines and headaches. Tui na, Shiatsu or massage to treat migraine can be very useful, especially for headaches and migraines linked to tension in the neck muscles, shoulders, face and skull. Generally speaking, these treatments are also a relaxing, pleasant therapy that adds to prevention. The disadvantage of touch techniques for migraines is that it is difficult to touch-sensitive areas and sometimes to touch-sensitive points that might cause further disturbance to the individual during the headache.

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Chinese Medicinal Herbs

In Chinese medicine, medicinal herbs are an essential part of the treatment. Medicinal herbs for migraines and headaches are given after diagnosis. The medicinal herbs predominantly treat the root factor that created the problem and not just the headache itself. So individuals would receive different kinds of medicinal plants suited for him or them. Together with the medicinal herbs, sometimes it is essential to make a nutritional change to reduce migraines and headaches.

Recall Healing for migraines and headaches.

Almost everyone understands that tension and stress might cause headaches and migraines. In general, we know that stress is unhealthy. The Recall Healing method knows how to explain why we are stressed and why it causes migraines or headaches rather than other illnesses. Ninety-five percent of our brain is subconscious. We are not aware of why we think specific thoughts, why we have certain emotions or even why we make individual choices in our lives. We believe that we decide, but in fact, it is our subconscious that determines.

The Emotional Reasons of migraines

According to Recall Healing, a disease is not a mistake but rather a biological solution to an inner conflict that we could not resolve ourselves. The body is trying to help us solve it. Headaches and migraines have to do with our intellectual ability, leadership, connection to a father figure, and our ability to find rational solutions to problems.

Recall Healing therapy is done through conversation after completing a detailed questionnaire. The questionnaire helps to gather information about the individual and the context around their illness or ailment. This includes their childhood and events that happened around conception, their mother’s pregnancy and their birth. It also includes their family tree and significant events in the individual’s life. These are all factors that formulate an individual’s subconscious. Usually, the number of sessions is relatively low, and the process is most suited to people who want to get to the root of the problem. This helps to heal the emotional source of the headache in a direct, holistic and profound manner.

Subconscious Conflict of Headaches

Recall Healing is not “automatic.” It is necessary to find the specific conflict in the person’s life which may be connected to different factors, as mentioned above. It is not enough to tell a person what the subconscious conflict is associated with a headache to stop them from suffering from headaches. One must find the emotional connection unique to that person and bring their awareness there. This can mean getting attention to a specific area in their subconscious, which conflicts. Seeing what the conflict or subconscious belief is, releases them from holding onto the emotional energy, in most cases, that will contribute to a faster recovery, both physically and emotionally.

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Case study of addressing migraines using Recall Healing

Jenny came to the clinic with a complaint about suffering from migraines every weekend and during menstruation. “I work hard all week, and when I finally rest in the weekend, the headaches start.” Jenny works as a programmer in a computer company. Since she was young, she has excelled with working with computers. After completing her MA degree, she was hired to do a prestigious, well-paid job. Although she works in a competitive and high-pressure environment, she enjoys the work and gets a lot of satisfaction. Jenny can’t understand why most of her migraines appear on weekends when she is at home relaxing with her partner.

The questionnaire that Jenny filled out revealed that her mother was an intelligent woman. But her mother had most unwillingly had to give up her university studies and career to take care of her children and be a mother. Jenny carried inside of her, from a very young age, her mother’s conflict. This was: the need to prove herself as an intelligent, successful woman and not to be able to.

Recall Healing Approach

According to Recall Healing, diseases can often appear when the body or brain’s stress is over and the body enters a repair phase. When Jenny is under pressure at work and stressed over her intellectual abilities, her body sends more blood than usual to her brain because of the subconscious conflict she carries, causing a dilation of the blood vessels. This is the brain and body’s way of dealing with the inner, unresolved conflict. When Jenny feels good at home, the body uses the time to repair itself. The blood vessels return to their natural state; the vascular system in the head heals, and the headache forms.

For migraines connected to menstruation, in Recall Healing, the conflict is usually associated with “this is my intellectual value as a woman.” After one Recall Healing session, Jenny understood this subconscious conflict connected to her mother and her stress at work. With just bringing awareness to the conflict, the pain was gone during the following weekends.

Jenny had three Recall Healing sessions and a few more acupuncture treatments to release the neck and shoulder muscles and balance the hormonal system. Today, Jenny seldom gets headaches, and when they do start to form, she links the headache to what she knows of her life context, which eases the tension.

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Naturopathy and nutrition for Migraines and Headaches

Naturopathy and nutrition as migraine therapy are very important. Many patients say that changes in their diet significantly affect migraines’ intensity and frequency in many cases. Combine with food; the Naturopath Doctor can prescribe vitamins and supplements to treat migraines and headaches. It is advisable to combine nutrition therapy for migraines in such cases, or as a single treatment or in combination with Acupuncture and Recall Healing.

Chiropractic treatment for Migraines and Headaches

Chiropractic therapy can significantly help with migraines and headaches. Much of the tension accumulated in the neck vertebrae can be released by chiropractic manipulation on the neck, which benefits migraines and headaches. In chiropractic therapy, the therapy itself might worsen the pain during the first few sessions. It is recommended to combine the treatment with local massage or acupuncture before or after chiropractic therapy for migraines.

Migraines and Headaches syndromes according to Chinese Medicine

According to Chinese medicine, a diagnosis is performed to treat migraines and headaches better. The diagnosis is made by pulse, tongue diagnosis and assessing other signs. According to Chinese medicine, to understand how complicated this kind of diagnosis can be, detailed here are the leading causes of migraines and headaches.

Yang rising

This is one of the most common causes of migraines. Yang is Chinese terminology and is one half of the yin-yang symbol, representing fire, heat and movement. Our body experiencing a yang energy increase or overload can be analogized to an old-fashioned kettle that whistles when there is a high steam pressure in the kettle. The rise of Yang is the steam that rises in the kettle. When the hot air rises upwards (rising Yang) up to a certain point when there is a lot of heat and pressure, the kettle starts whistling. This dynamics symbolizes migraine when the yang is in overload.

Yin deficiency

The other part of the Yin-Yang symbol in Chinese medicine is Yin, representing water and calming cooling energy. Yin deficiency is a common condition among women in menopause. According to our kettle analogy, yin is the water in the kettle. When heat is created in the body, the kettle will rapidly boil, causing a headache because of the low water level (Yin energy). This is an aggravation of the Yang rising condition. Yin deficiency associated with migraine is mostly experienced in the liver and kidneys.

Blood deficiency

Blood is a form of Yin in the body that helps to cool and anchor the body’s yang energy. This is a condition that precedes Yin deficiency, more commonly experienced among young women. This is often because of the blood loss associated with menstruation and also due to poor diet. This condition is less acute than Yin deficiency; According to our analogy, therapeutically, it is easier to “fill the water in the kettle (build blood)” than Yin deficiency. Yin deficiency is more complicated due to the time it takes to build energy in the body. Blood deficiency in the liver is the main reason for Migranes.

Blocking phlegm

Phlegm is created in the body by indigestion of foods and exposure to damp conditions. In the analogy we are using, the phlegm is the dirt that blocks all the openings in the kettle, and then there is more pressure inside. This condition describes phlegm headache, for example, sinusitis where there is pressure in the headache.

Liver Qi stagnation

Liver Qi stagnations is a common condition underlying tension headaches. It has to do with a stagnation of Energy-Qi  (life force energy) in the Liver. The lack of energy flow may arise from the holding on and suppression of emotions and low diet. In such conditions, we will see a great deal of muscular tension in the neck and shoulders.

Liver heat

Heat in the Liver is a more acute condition of stagnation of the liver Qi. Here we will see, in many cases, red face and eyes, high blood pressure, and the symptoms will be more acute.

The Connection between Nutrition and Migraines

Migraine patients know that certain foods might cause a migraine attack. Generally, we do not recommend fatty or fried foods, including melted cheese, spicy food, red meat, alcohol, bananas, chocolate and candy in general. Naturopathic therapy is an essential part of migraine treatment—Prescribe the proper nutrition, vitamins and mineral deficiency. In principle, drinking a little more water than we usually do is recommended.

The connection between Migraine and Stress

Stress is indeed a significant factor in treating headaches and migraines. It creates stagnation of the Qi (the life force energy) and tension of the neck and shoulder muscles. When the Qi-energy does not flow well, it heats up and rises upwards to the head. Therefore, it is advisable to do stress-relieving activities such as exercise, meditation, Reiki, Qigong, yoga, etc. Of course, it is also essential to decrease the stress factors in the lifestyle. We recommend going through several Recall Healing sessions for someone who wants to treat the cause that creates stress. The Recall Healing consultation will bring more awareness to the influence of the subconscious in our lives.

Medical Treatment for Migraine

Drugs can help if we look at headaches occurring at a low frequency and lasting for a short time. However, in the long run, medications can be life-threatening. From the Journal of the American Medical Association data, 780,000 people die each year in the US due to medical negligence, out of which 100,000 are because of prescription drugs. Even if it does not kill us, the damage that drugs cause will diminish our health and quality of life in the long run.


When should we seek medical treatment for migraines?

In principle, for every new problem that appears, it is advisable to see a doctor for a diagnosis. If headaches are raising suspicions of tumour and pains cannot be alleviated or are centred in one place, it is best to get it checked out by a doctor to rule out a tumour’s possibility. Although the chance that a headache is a symptom of a  head tumour is small, it is worthwhile to mention it in this article. Even if you go to alternative therapy for severe headaches or head pain, you should go to a family doctor. If the doctor finds it necessary, he or she will refer you for more tests. We need to learn to combine modern medicine and alternative medicine.


It is important to note that alternative medicinal treatment for migraines is to treat migraines’ root cause. The approach is not just to alleviate the pain or about “pain relief.” The idea is to find the imbalance in the body and treat that. When applying such a method, often conditions that seemingly have nothing to do with the migraine are healed. These include tensions, menstruation pain, sleep disorders, fatigue, menopause phenomena, skin ailments and more.
For a long time, people who suffer from migraines before coming for treatment often say – why didn’t we do this before?! There is hope, and treatment is worthwhile. The longer the condition prevails, the more it remains in the body. So, better sooner than later and later than never!

We hope that we have succeeded in helping you be more informed about Acupuncture for migraines and headaches and other natural treatment options. We wish you the best of health.

The Rebalance Acupuncture Edmonton Clinic offers Acupuncture for Migraines and Headaches as well as Recall Healing.

Acupuncture for Migraines & Headaches

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About the Author

Elad Shalev

Elad Shalev

Elad Shalev, Doctor of Acupuncture Dr. Ac. Registered acupuncturist in Alberta, is the founder of Rebalance Acupuncture Edmonton. The name ReBalance comes from a combination of Recall Healing and Balance Method Acupuncture.

After practicing and teaching different types of alternative medicine over the last 20 years, Elad Shalev came to focus his work on the most effective methods from his experience. His search after healing methods that provide fast results in curing the symptoms while healing the root cause of the disease, led him to Balance method Acupuncture and Recall Healing.

The Rebalance acupuncture clinic is located in Edmonton, Canada. Online Recall Healing session are available - world wide.

Elad Shalev

Elad Shalev

Elad Shalev, Doctor of Acupuncture Dr. Ac. Registered acupuncturist in Alberta, is the founder of Rebalance Acupuncture Edmonton. The name ReBalance comes from a combination of Recall Healing and Balance Method Acupuncture.

After practicing and teaching different types of alternative medicine over the last 20 years, Elad Shalev came to focus his work on the most effective methods from his experience. His search after healing methods that provide fast results in curing the symptoms while healing the root cause of the disease, led him to Balance method Acupuncture and Recall Healing.

The Rebalance acupuncture clinic is located in Edmonton, Canada. Online Recall Healing session are available - world wide.

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