Natural Approaches to Headache and Migraine Relief

If there’s one thing that can knock us down and knock us down fast, it’s a headache. They can come out of nowhere and can last for days to years. Their existence offers many clues to our health, yet relief with modern medicine is often temporary. This temporary relief leaves us with the fearful question, when will it return? The answer to that question, it doesn’t have to return, ever.

You’re solution? Acupuncture and Chinese medicine! This medicine offers viable long-term solutions, and research continues to support these outcomes.

Let’s take a closer look!

Western Medicine on Headaches

Join me in science class for a brief moment…

Headaches occur because the blood vessels flowing to your brain become dilated. These vessels may even spasm. When dilation and spasming occurs, your pain receptors are stimulated. This stimulation produces pain that is often described as sharp, stabbing, heavy, or dull. These descriptions are a result of the intensity of irritations to the blood vessel. Irritated blood vessels can be due to inflammation, infection of the meninges, and muscular tension.

Over-the-counter or prescription medications relieve headaches by reducing inflammation and constricting the blood vessels. Caffeine also has a similar effect.

Have you or someone you know quit coffee only to end up with terrible headaches? If you’re shaking your head yes, then you know the headache cure is to drink coffee! This is because coffee constricts your blood vessels. When we drink coffee every day, multiple times a day, our blood vessels are used to being constricted. Then, the moment you decide not to have coffee, your blood vessels relax and dilate, thus causing pain.

So if you’re thinking about quitting coffee, taper yourself off the caffeine and be sure to schedule weekly treatments with your acupuncturist. Weekly treatments will help your blood vessels adjust to a different degree of constriction.

Chronic headaches follow the same science as acute or situational headaches. The difference is that those that suffer from chronic headaches may be lacking essential nutrients that aid in natural constriction of the blood vessels. This is why many over-the-counter and prescription medications provide only temporary relief.

The side effects from over-the-counter, prescription, and antibiotics for headache and migraine relief medications are no secret. Overuse can cause gastrointestinal distress, liver damage, nausea, vomiting, fatigue , dizziness, low blood pressure and even depression. Yikes! No, thank you!

There is also risk of heart attack and stroke with increased use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This statement came directly from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and was published in a 2017 article by Harvard Medical School. NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), Aleve, and Celebrex. Read the full Harvard article here. 

That’s a lot of bad news! So, what’s there left to do if we can’t rely on modern medicine for long-term relief? We lean on Chinese medicine, of course!

acupuncture, chinese medicine, headache, migraine, migraine relief, headache relief

Chinese Medicine on Headaches

Before we dive in, I want to share that Chinese medicine will alleviate your headaches. There’s no doubt about it. This certainty is due to years of research, but also to one magnificent aspect of Chinese medicine. That is that Chinese medicine will resolve the underlying cause of your headache, while also treating your headache. Unlike Western medicine, there is not one pill or one method that fits all. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine treat each patient as an individual. One treatment does not fit all. It is unique to you!

The physiology behind headaches is similar to that of Western medicine.

Chinese medicine views headaches as blockage, stagnation, or a result of deficiency in the body. When there is a block or stagnation in the body, we want to help the body to open and/or clear. This is done by working with the appropriate meridian channel(s) that move through the head and face. When headaches are the result of deficiency, we want to nourish and support the body appropriately with acupuncture, herbs, diet, supplements, and/or exercise.

Case Study

During my internship, one of my favorite cases was a 30-year-old female who suffered from chronic headaches. Her headaches were the result of many past head traumas, including concussions. Her headaches were sharp, and sometimes dull, caused her to be sensitive to light, and were often debilitating. She said once that she wasn’t sure she knew what life was like without a headache.

Her first acupuncture treatment resulted in a decrease in degree of her headache pain and frequency. After her second acupuncture treatment, she had several days without any headache symptoms. Once she began incorporating herbal medicine into her regimen, her headaches continued to decrease, eventually resulting in several weeks without a headache. After about a month of weekly treatments, this woman was put on a maintenance plan towards living a headache-free life. As a result of her success, she wrote a generous testimonial.

To cite a second study published in the August 2018 edition of Medical Acupuncture, the official journal of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, cites clinical improvements for headaches with acupuncture. The study, titled “Acupuncture for Headache: Possible Clinical Improvements – Analysis of Two Typical Case Reports,” concluded that after several treatments, “the patients’ headaches went away – as they usually do for months or even years after only several treatments…” Learn more about the details of the study here.

Get Relief from Headaches

Long-term relief from acute and chronic headaches is possible with acupuncture and Chinese medicine! While using this form of healthcare, you’ll avoid risks associated with over-the-counter and pharmaceuticals, and you’ll live headache free!

Find a practitioner in your area and begin getting relief from headaches today. If you’re unsure about how to find a practitioner in your area, check out my posts, How to Choose an Acupuncturist.

In the meantime, consider massaging these acupuncture points for immediate headache relief!

Large Intestine 4

Gallbladder 44

Bladder 67


As always, thank you for reading and stay curious!






Disclaimer: This information is intended for general reference only. It is not a replacement for professional health advice. The content in this post intentionally does not provide dosage information or possible interactions with prescription drugs or other medications. Please contact a certified health practitioner such as a physician of Oriental Medicine or Herbalist before considering use. To schedule an appointment with Malerie, visit the services page. 

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