27 Jan 2017

Migraine Relief with Acupuncture

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Migraine Pain

Of all the clients who come into my office with various aches, pains, and illnesses, those suffering the most acutely are dealing with migraine headaches. These headaches are excruciating, and life with chronic migraines is quite a struggle. Some folks are out of commission for as many as fifteen days a month. Western medicine offers pain meds, sometimes leading to overuse of opioids, and many doctors freely admit that no one completely understands these attacks.


Some of the known culprits include wine and cheese, changes in sleep patterns, hormonal shifts, and weather and barometric pressure changes. Bright sunlight or strong perfumes may trigger an episode. As is the case so often, one person’s constitution and sensitivity can be very different from another’s, so causes vary with the individual.

Acupuncture Strategies

I am elated that I am diminishing or eliminating these migraines, regardless of cause, surely and rapidly; people experience enormous relief—often 90%, while on the table in my office. In other words, the client knows within minutes after a few needles are inserted if their headache is receding, and if not, I change strategies ( and channels ) immediately until we GET it. It is such a joy as a practitioner to watch the suffering abate so quickly.

Patients Relieved of Pain

A recent example was a lovely lady in her mid-fifties who attributed her migraines to shifts in barometric pressure during this stormy winter. She has endured a succession of these debilitating headaches, almost continuously, for two months. The western docs prescribed the usual drugs, like Imitrex, but nothing was really helping. Her headaches were behind her eyes and in a band across her forehead. Within a few minutes of inserting needles in the Liver channel on her leg, (lower body treats upper body), she said, “My right eye just cleared.” I added another needle on the Liver channel, and she said, “My left eye just cleared.” I then asked where the pain was, and she said that it was in the forehead area—Gall Bladder channel. So I inserted a couple of needles around her ankle to move the energy (Qi) in that channel, and she said, “Wow, the whole thing has relaxed.” She then fell into a deep sleep, emerging headache free, albeit spacey and needing a lot of rest. I saw her two days later, and she reported sleeping most of the time between that treatment and this second appointment—small wonder! She was delighted to be free of the headaches after two months of suffering, and was heading to the airport to visit her son in Arizona.

A younger woman has hormone related headaches, and after clearing these, we have her on some herbs to try to interrupt the tendency of her body to throw a headache her way every month. So far she is thrilled with the results.

Yesterday, when I helped a brave teacher out of a 20 day migraine, (and she taught classes straight through with occasional trips to the ER for injections for nausea and pain), I knew that I wanted to write about these treatments and get more people out of misery.

Acupuncture Works

This is one area where western medications are not handling either the cause or the condition with its unrelenting pain, and many doctors are now referring patients to acupuncture. I am confident and grateful that this serious condition responds to my acupuncture treatments quickly and effectively. The body really does want to balance itself—it just needs a nudge.

About the Author

Janet Barrows has a Master of Science in Oriental Medicine (MSOM) from the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley, CA. She is a California State Licensed Acupuncturist (L. Ac.) practicing acupuncture in Santa Rosa, CA. Her practice includes acupuncture, natural herbs, facial rejuvenation, nutrition, and medical qigong.