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  • Writer's picturePatty McDuffey

Acupuncture for Migraine Headaches



One of the most common patient complaints seen by acupuncturists is migraine headaches. Though many of the patients I have treated who struggle with migraines initially come to me for other reasons, not realizing that acupuncture can also treat migraines. I believe this is because many people are not aware of how effective acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be for this condition.


Who gets migraines


According to Elaine Aron, PhD, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, people whose nervous systems are more vulnerable to their internal and external environments (about 20-30% of the population), are more likely to struggle with migraines, and are inherently challenged by imbalanced serotonin levels. Couple this with a genetic predisposition to the condition in most cases, we begin to understand how about a quarter of this population struggle with migraines, sometimes to a debilitating degree.


The causes of migraines


There are a number of aggravating dietary, lifestyle, and environmental factors that contribute to the onset of migraines. Natural and Chinese medicine practitioners like me can help to identify and treat the causes of the condition with nutrition and lifestyle coaching as well as herbal supplements. And as an acupuncturist I have a unique edge on treating the pain associated with intense headaches, a fact now backed up by research. Until recently, Western medicine typically focused on prescribing medication to treat recurring migraines. Thanks to the research, and recognizing the tremendous benefit of acupuncture, the Mayo Clinic recently became an advocate for acupuncture calling it an effective therapy for the pain associated with migraines!


So how does acupuncture help?


Chinese medicine, of which acupuncture is a major component, places very thin needles (about the size of a strand of hair) at specific acupuncture points located along the energetic channels of the body. Many people actually report that they feel no discomfort from these stainless steel, one-time-use needles. Acupuncture works to increase the flow of energy in the body, nourishing deficiencies and reducing excesses, clearing ‘heat’ and warming ‘cold’. In this way acupuncturists are able to rebalance the nervous system, helping to decrease or eliminate the pain associated with migraines. By creating harmony throughout the body, mind and spirit, the conditions that gave rise to headaches soon begin to dissipate.


Clearing the channels


I often like to compare the energy that flows through the physical body to that of an open water pipe. When the channels are open and there is ample water, there is movement and flow through the system, creating harmony. When something inhibits the flow of water in the system, it starts to puddle or accumulate in certain areas of the pipe. These stagnant areas of standing water may then become ‘warm’ and collect ‘debris’. As this happens, the health of the water and ecosystem downstream start to deteriorate. When healthy movement within the body is hindered, stagnation arises. We experience this stagnation as pain. Acupuncture works to open the energetic (water) channels, clear debris and heal pain.


Acupuncture and Chinese medicine work beautifully together to help these underlying causes of pain so that patients feel vibrant, joyful, and able to fully participate in life! I invite you to give it a try. Acupuncture treatments are covered by many insurance companies. We are here to answer questions regarding your benefits. We look forward to helping you on your path to well-being.


About Patty McDuffey, LAc, MAcOM, Dipl.OM

Patty McDuffey strives to understand what is at the root of dis-ease and will do her best to help each patient realize their own unique healing potential in an effort to find greater balance, peace and well-being. She is honored to be of service.


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