Blog/ Santa Barbara Acupuncture & Massage Blog

Treating Headaches and Migraines With Acupuncture, Massage and Chinese Herbs

Headaches and migraines are common conditions and thus I have had the chance to treat a lot of them in my clinic. I have developed very successful protocols using combinations of acupuncture, focused massage therapy and Chinese herbal formulas that create long term relief of headache symptoms.

Oriental Medicine offers highly individualized diagnosis and treatments addressing headaches. As with most health conditions headaches result from a combination of external stresses or triggers and internal imbalances that make a person susceptible.

My treatments usually start with focused therapeutic massage. Using sensitive deep tissue and trigger point therapy to release pent up stored nervous energy from key muscle groups that are often involved in the genesis of a headache. The muscles hold chronic tensions built up from both postural and emotional stresses. Often we are not fully aware of these stresses as they happen, and with repetition of years, the stresses have become fixtures in our nervous systems and entrenched patterns in our muscles. The most important areas are the upper back, shoulders, neck and base of the skull.

The next step is to use acupuncture to release and neutralize stress patterns deep in the central nervous system. Needles are placed in key locations to disrupt neurological patterns stuck in a rut of negative functioning. This allows the central nervous system to reboot if you will and take a break.

Lastly if the headaches are severe and / or chronic, then deep seated predispositional imbalances need to be addressed with herbal formulas. With headaches the most important organs we look at is the state of the liver and secondarily kidneys. We look at the liver and kidneys not in terms of modern physical medicine but in terms of yin and yang balance. The liver is an organ intimately associated with stress and muscle tension and is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi and blood in the body. The kidneys are the root or origin of yin and yang and usually need to be treated along with the liver.

As an example, the most common type of imbalance in oriental medical diagnosis is referred to as liver yang rising. Yang is energy and heat and it likes to rise upwards toward the head if it is not balanced or held by Yin. Yin refers to the fluid, cooling and calming aspects of the body and also for women the female essence – the hormonal balance.

If there is significant imbalance in the organ systems then external stresses like postural strains or emotional stress can easily trigger a negative event. With careful diagnosis and specific herbal treatment we can stabilize the patients system so that the acupuncture and massage therapy can have lasting effects.

If you have any questions about treating headaches or any other health issue feel free to email me at: or call me at: 805 895-6015


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