As a teenager I suffered with frequent headaches. I was evaluated many times by my general practitioner and neurologist. There was really only one option: Medication. My mother, the pharmacist, was not happy with this resolution. She wanted me to try acupuncture for relief after studying the side effects of the prescribed medications. A few acupuncture treatments later, my headaches were not completely gone but I was able to function even when it came on. Eventually, the intensity, duration, and frequency decreased. I no longer suffer with frequent headaches. Of course, I’ll get the occasional headache but I can usually analyze what brought it on; i.e. dehydration, stress, etc.
Headaches can be classified into numerous groups. There are tension headaches, cluster headaches, TMJ headaches, and trauma headaches, to name a few. Acupuncture is very effective in treating headaches, no matter what the onset.
In Chinese Medicine, headaches are classified into various groups based on location. The location of the headache tells us about what channel is affected. I am a true believer of the power of foods. When patients come in for acupuncture, I also present a listing of foods, based upon their diagnosis, which can improve their condition(s). Below are classifications of headaches and some helpful food therapy.
Top of the Head/ Affected Channel: Liver
Food Therapy: Apples, Carrots, Celery, Corn, Chrysanthemum Tea, Eggplant, Garlic, Onion, Peanuts, Persimmon, Royal Jelly, Tofu, Spinach, Watermelon
Side of the Head, Temples/ Affected Channel: Gallbladder
If only on Left side: Deficiency condition or chronic condition (i.e. weakness in the jaw caused by TMJ disorder)
If only on Right side: Excess condition or acute condition, i.e. common cold.
Food therapy: Excess condition: Coriander, Duck Egg, Green Onion (white part), Apricots, Bamboo Shoots
Deficient Condition: Brown Sugar, Eel, Beef, Licorice, Lamb, Rice, Potatoes, and Sweet Potatoes
Behind the eyes/ Affected Channel: Liver (blood deficiency in the channel)
Food Therapy: Beef, Eggs, Oysters, Spinach, Mint Tea,
Forehead/Affected Channel: Stomach
Food Therapy: Crab apple, Green/Red Pepper, Nutmeg, Papaya, Pineapple, Sweet Basil, Radish, Clam (saltwater), Crab, Peanut, Chinese Dates, Mango, Rosemary, Star Anise, Turnips, Taro, Chinese Cabbage, Shitake Mushrooms
Back of the head/ Affected Channel: Kidney and Urinary Bladder
Food Therapy: Pork, Shrimp, Mussels, Clam (freshwater), Plum, Raspberries, Cinnamon
All over the head/Affected Channel: Kidney (essence)
Food Therapy: Whole Wheat, Millet, Black Sesame Seeds, Dill seed, Cloves, Chinese Cabbage Avoid: Dairy, Alcohol, Yeast Foods
These are just general foods to help prevent and relieve headaches. Acupuncture and food therapy can work very well together to resolve the pain faster and prevent future occurrences.