I have treated many patients for migraines in both Canada and China. The main symptoms can include sudden or gradual onset of pain in various regions of the head (sides, back, all over). An attack can be triggered by emotional or physical stress, weather changes, or even food. Accompanying symptoms can include nausea, chills, sweating, dizziness, sensitivity to noise/light, sinus congestion, and other factors.
Treatment is performed via acupuncture and/or herbs. Typically for patients who suffer from severe frequent attacks, the aim is to reduce the severity of the migraines within the first 2 treatments with acupuncture, with follow up treatment using acupuncture and/or herbs. After 1-2 treatments, patients may report at least 50% reduction in severity, and attacks may often become less frequent. At this point, even though symptoms may be greatly reduced, the migraines won’t be completely gone, since the underlying root cause takes some more time to recover.
In the next 1-3 treatments, frequency and severity usually decreases further, and the patient is reassessed to see whether further treatment is required. Factors which may prolong the healing process include emotional trauma, physical injury or concussion, or other pre-existing health conditions.
Migraines can be categorized into several common types, with each type having its own set of symptoms and specific tongue/pulse pattern. All types can be treated via acupuncture/herbal medicine as outlined above.
Interior heat or Mixed cold-heat pattern
Migraines attacks are severe and may occur several times a month. The pain is debilitating and may not respond to pain medication. There are often digestive symptoms including heartburn, acid reflux, sensitivity to foods, and irregularity of bowels. Patients may also suffer from disturbed sleep, and can be prone to irritation.
Migraine severity is typically less than that of interior heat type. However, patient may experience a general feeling of unwellness. Patient may exhibit pale complexion and may suffer from palpitations. There may also be numbness of the head or body, dizziness, or aversion to cold temperatures.
Pain may be all over the head, and frequency of attacks are difficult to predict. Accompanying symptoms may include attacks that are triggered by wind exposure, nausea, dizziness, lack of appetite, water retention in the body, especially legs. The patient often feels heavy all over the body, with lethargy.
Patients may also exhibit combinations of 2+ types. Combination type patients can exhibit tongue and pulse patterns that differ between treatments, depending on which problem is most apparent.