Did you know that the World Health Organization reports episodic tension headaches for 70% of some populations?

TCM and Western medicine recognize that there are two types of headaches, primary and secondary.  Both types of headaches can be very debilitating.  A primary headache is a clinical condition like a migraine, tensions a headache or cluster headaches. Whereas a secondary headache is caused by different medical conditions, eg sinus, allergies, injury to the head, brain tumors.

How Acupuncture helps your headaches!

Acupuncture provides effective and lasting relief for all types of headaches tension, migraine, sinus, with no harmful side effects and without the potential side effects of medications, treating the symptom and the cause together.

  1. Acupuncture prompts your body to release natural painkillers. By inserting small needles into specific points on the body, the needles trigger a response from your brain to release natural pain killers endorphins and
  2. Acupuncture relaxes muscular tension; acupuncture needles signal the brain to direct blood flow to the affected area to relax the muscles there.
  3. Reduces stress and regulates the body’s stress response: this is the best way to address the root cause of all types of a headache. Acupuncture is well known for its ability to regulate the central and autonomic nervous system. In doing so, it appears to bring heart rate into healthy ranges, reducing stress.
  4. Acupuncture has been used to treat headaches for thousands of years with no harmful side effects.

Nearly everyone in their life will suffer from headaches.   According to Chinese medicine, headaches are caused by a combination of factors, cold,  wind, heat or could be an internal problem, your liver, spleen, the heart can be in disharmony from infection, virus or from eating the wrong types of foods. Chinese medicine restores harmony in your body to rebalance your Yin and Yang and help you get pain relief from the headaches and the symptoms that go with headaches.  Looks at your lifestyle and diet and makes the appropriate changes to help with your headaches.

What are the common causes of headaches?

  • Stress
  • Working at a desk
  • Eye strain (staring at a computer screen for long periods)
  • Cold temperatures
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Fatigue
  • Cold or flu
  • Sinus infection
  • Caffeine
  • Poor posture

Some of the most common types of headaches, both primary and secondary that acupuncture can help with.

Tension Headaches

Tension headaches, which affect most people at some point in their lives. They are recurrent headaches and can last anywhere from minutes to days. You experience dull pressure in varying degrees from mild to moderate, sensations of pressure and tightness across the forehead, on the sides, or back of the head, or behind the eye and tightness in the neck and shoulder muscles.


Migraine headaches are usually one side of your head, you experience a pulsating or throbbing pain.  You can have a sensitivity to light, nausea and or vomiting, a dislike to loud noise.  Activity can make a migraine worse.  They can affect your visual field, dark clouds the eyes or can get flashing lights.  These headaches can last for a few hours or a couple of days and are very debilitating.

Chronic Headache

These types of headaches happen every day or every other day; they can swing from a tension type to a migraine.  The overuse of pain medications can result in aggravating headache patterns.

Dangerous Headaches

If you have any of these symptoms please contact your doctor straight away!

  • A headache after banging your head
  • Vomiting without nausea
  • Severe dizziness
  • Fever
  • Extreme neck pain
  • Sudden onset
  • Hypertension



Research was done on the effectiveness of acupuncture for headaches

Acupuncture provides effective and lasting relief for tension headaches without the potential side effects of medications. Below are several studies that point to acupuncture’s effectiveness for tension headaches.

Acupuncture provides a powerful non-pharmacological tool in the management of tension headaches:

The following study compared the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments vs. routine care in the management of tension headaches for over 2,000 participants. Researchers found statistically significant and clinically relevant benefits of acupuncture over routine care.  Those who received acupuncture reported at least a 50% decrease in headache frequency, lower pain intensity for the headaches they did experience, and a marked reduction in analgesic use.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19160338  2009 Jan 21;(1):CD007587. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007587.Acupuncture for a tension-type headache.Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, Department of Internal Medicine II, Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Wolfgang str. 8, Munich, Germany, 81667. Klaus.Linde@lrz.tu-muenchen.de

Acupuncture found to be more effective than medical therapy for chronic headaches:

This meta-analysis of 31 studies analyzing the efficacy of acupuncture for chronic headaches shows that acupuncture provides a significant reduction in headache intensity and frequency.  Participants who received acupuncture not only experienced greater relief of headache symptoms but also responded more quickly to the treatments than did their counterparts who received either medical therapy or “sham acupuncture.”

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19020156 Acupuncture for the management of a chronic headache: a systematic review.Sun Y1, Gan TJ. Anesth Analg. 2008 Dec;107(6):2038-47.Duke University Medical Center, Department of Anesthesiology, Box 3094, Durham, NC 27710, USA

Drastically fewer “headache days” for acupuncture participants:

This study compared the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment vs. no treatment in the alleviation of tension headaches.  After 12 acupuncture sessions over the course of 8 weeks, participants reported 7.2 fewer headache days per month as compared to the non-treatment group, who reported only 1.5 fewer headache days per month.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16055451 BMJ. 2005 Aug 13;331(7513):376-82. Epub 2005 Jul 29. Acupuncture in patients with a tension-type headache: randomized controlled trial. Melchart D1, Streng A, Hoppe A, Brinkhaus B, Witt C, Wagenpfeil S, Pfaffenrath V, Hammes M, Hummelsberger J, Irnich D, Weidenhammer W, Willich SN, Linde K.

Written by Lucy Townsley Lic TCM

Please leave a comment to let me know what you do to help your headaches