I hope to provide you with some basic information about the oriental medical diagnostics and treatment of headaches.

The traditional Chinese medical (TCM) diagnostic approach does not view all headaches as being of the same origin. There are many different types of headaches recognized by oriental medicine. Each type can occur in combination with one another and thus there are a myriad of possible headache types. Here I will discuss a number of common types of headaches recognized by TCM.

In TCM the approach for treating any disorder is to identify the disease and then identify the subtype of the disease. The different types of of a disease are known as patterns and the general disease classification is usually descriptive of the primary or chief symptom. In this case the disease is that of headache. There are innumerable possible sub-types or patterns.

Because each headache is of a distinct variety, effective treatment requires a distinct treatment plan. As such, a proper and accurate diagnosis is essential. If the diagnosis is not accurate, then even though a headache treatment is used, the results will not be particularly effective.

I will discuss eight different patterns, one of which has its own sub-patterns. The patterns I will address are:
Liver Yang Rising
Liver Fire
Blood Stasis
Food Retention
Qi Deficiency
Blood Deficiency
Kidney Deficiency

Some of these patterns are deficiency types and others are excess types. The Liver Fire, Damp, Blood Stasis and Food Retention are excess types. This means that there is too much of a substance in the body. Descriptions of these headaches often include words such as stabbing, throbbing or pounding – Terms that imply an excess state.

The other patterns are deficiency types. These of course are the result of too little of a particular substance in the body. These are commonly described as nagging, gnawing, tight, dull ache, or empty. While the Liver Yang Rising pattern by its very name would seem to be an excess pattern, it in fact is not. The rising is the result of a deficiency of other substances which would normally anchor the yang. Because it is not appropriately unanchored it floats upward resulting in a headache.

Each of these patterns has its own distinct set of symptoms, and it is through close analysis of these symptoms that the practitioner can determine which pattern of headache the patients has.

Diagnostic Considerations

A diagnostic session will start at the most basic place — the identification of the disease. The next step is to determine which particular variety of headache the patient is suffering from. This is known as the pattern level of diagnosis. Once this is accomplished, the practitioner will design a treatment plan specifically targeted to address the specific disease pattern.

The treatment plan will consist of a selection of acupuncture points, which will often vary from treatment to treatment. It will often will include an herbal formula to supplement the acupuncture treatments. Other aspects of the treatment plan might include dietary modifications, exercise and lifestyle considerations.

For more information on the diagnosis and treatment of specific headache patterns, visit my other headache webpages listed below. I hope this page has been informative and encourage you to seek treatment if you suffer from headaches. Acupuncture can be a very effective solution for many headache sufferers.

Treating Throbbing Headaches with Acupuncture
Treating Dull Headaches with Acupuncture

To make an appointment or simply gather more information about acupuncture or choosing an acupuncturist, please contact Elizabeth at +1 917-968-2854. Or, contact us through this website. Elizabeth Healy is a NYS Licensed Acupuncturist, holds a Masters Degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine and a Doctorate in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. She is certified in Acupuncture and Herbology by the NCCAOM.