Traditional Chinese Medicine for Migraine

From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, migraine can be caused by internal and external factors. For internal factors, common patterns of migraine are liver qi deficiency, liver blood deficiency, blood stagnation. Chronic conditions caused by functional disorders of the kidneys, liver or spleen can result in migraine as well.

For external factors, there are six external forces invade the human body to cause diseases. They are called the six external pathogens in Chinese medicine, namely wind, heat, dampness, fire, dryness and cold. The most common external factors of migraine are wind cold, wind heat and wind dampness.

Migraine can also be caused by psychological factors such as stress and emotion. Stress can have physical and emotional influences on the body, which are thought to influence migraine. Over-the-counter pain relievers are effective, but long-term use can cause side effects. Chinese people have used herbs to relieve headache and migraine for centuries.

Chinese Herbs for Migraine

Migraine due to internal factors:

For liver qi deficiency, Xiao Yao Wan, an herbal formula is often used. It contains herbs include Chai Hu, Dang Gui, Bo He, Bai Zhu and Fu Ling. For liver blood deficiency, Si Wu Tang can be used. It contains herbs include Shu Di Huang, Bai Shao, Dang Gui and Chuan Xiong. For blood stagnation, Tong Qiao Huo Xue Tang can be used. It contains herbs include Chuan Xiong, Chi Shao, Tao Ren, Hong Hua and Cong Bai.

Migraine due to external factors:

For wind cold, TCM practitioners often use an herbal formula which contains Chuan Xiong, Jing Jie and Fang Feng. For wind heat, an herbal formula which contains Chuang Xiong, Bai Zhi and Ju Hua can be used. For wind dampness, an herbal formula which contains Qiang Huo, Du Huo and Chuang Xiong can be used.

1) Yan Hu Suo (Corydalis) can be used to relieve migraine in Chinese medicine. Studies suggest that an alkaloid found in corydalis, is effective to relieve pain.

2) Xiao Bai Ju (Feverfew) is a Chinese herb which is commonly used to relieve migraine and its accompanying symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, pain, dizziness, light and sound sensitivity.

3) Hou Po (Magnolia Bark) is the bark of Magnolia officinalis, a flowering tree which is native to China. It has been used to relieve fever, headache, muscle pain and stress in Chinese medicine.

Acupuncture for Migraine

According to the World Health Organization, acupuncture has been proved through controlled trials, is effective for headache (1). Studies suggest that acupuncture can reduce the frequency of headache in people with migraine. People who receive acupuncture experience reduction in migraine days, frequency and intensity.

Some of the acupuncture points which help to relieve migraine are located on the head. If you want to give Chinese medicine a try, but have a bit of hesitation about having needles inserted into your head, you can try to use only Chinese herbal formula first. Also, you can try stimulating acupressure points for migraine on your own.

Quick knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine perspectives