Treating Migraine Headaches with Chinese Medicine

By: Alyson Adams, L.Ac., Dipl. O.M.

There are over 26 million Americans who suffer from chronic migraines. Often, these headaches can be debilitating and can limit people from maintaining activities in their daily schedules. Conventional medicine is often inconclusive as to locating the cause of migraine and is limited in its treatment. Pharmaceutical medicine can sometimes alleviate pain, but it often causes poor side effects and the medication is only masking symptoms temporarily.   

Chinese medicine and acupuncture have shown to be very effective at treating migraine headaches, when no other type of treatment offers any relief. In 2006 the largest study to date looking at acupuncture for the treatment of migraines was published in Lancet Neurology. This study examined nearly 1,000 patients over a 6 week period. Researchers found that 47 percent of people who received acupuncture had a reduction in migraine days by 50 percent. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be used when a migraine is in an acute phase, or as a preventative medicine.

In my experience, I have seen many different types of triggers and patterns for migraines. Because each patient is unique, I am able to develop a personalized treatment plan for each person to address their particular concerns. Common triggers include hormonal patterns, stress, anxiety and food sensitivities. In Chinese medicine terms, I commonly see what is called Liver Qi stagnation. This is when stress or a blockage in the Qi flow in the body causes the energy to stagnate, and creates an upward counter-flow of qi to the head. 

With a regular acupuncture treatment plan, you can expect both a decrease in the amount of headaches and a decrease in severity. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine can be used safely and effectively to rebalance the flow of energy in the body and prevent reoccurring migraines. The amount of treatments you will need to resolve your migraine headaches will be dependent on how long you have been suffering from them, and how your body responds to the medicine.

Alyson is accepting new patients at Healing Hands Chiropractic at Landmark Crossing, 25 Nashua Rd., Suite F2, Londonderry, NH 03053 on Thursdays 2-7PM. You may schedule an appointment with her by calling 603-434-3456 or online at