HEADACHE BACK AGAIN?!
8 Natural TCM-Approved Tips To Help You Out
If you’re one of the unlucky few who gets headaches regularly, you know the plight. While there’s unfortunately no magic trick to instantly knock out migraines or bad headaches, holistic eastern medicine or TCM treatments have been known to have powerful success rates. Some studies showed that TCM treatments actually worked better than taking drugs to reduce pain during a migraine. So maybe it’s time to put the Extra Strength Excedrin back in the medicine cabinet and give one of these natural methods a try.
Treatments for Headaches in TCM
Whether you’re looking for right here-right now relief or want to try to reduce the amount of headaches you get throughout the entire year, Traditional Chinese Medicine has options for you. Keep in mind, all migraines and people are different. While one headache is caused by the stress of wedding planning, another could be from dehydration and overheating. All these little details are important to mention when getting any of these TCM treatments. It can help your practitioner create an experience that’s targeted specifically to your needs, so you can kick that migraine to the curb.
When you’re in the middle of a bad headache or migraine attack and it hurts so bad you’re literally ready to pull out your hair, acupuncture is hands down the most effective option. The acupuncturist can use the needles to stimulate the muscles and acupoints near where the migraine is coming from and literally absorb it. You heard us. The counterbalance of positive energy from the acupuncture basically neutralizes those painful throbs.
Acupuncture can also be a tool to reduce the symptoms of migraines and headaches too. If your vision is blurring out, you feel nauseous, or feel numb or tingly in your arms and legs when you get a migraine attack, let your acupuncturist know so they can incorporate those pain points into the treatment.
Acupressure and Tui Na Massages
Your head is hurting so badly that you’d literally pay as much money as it took to get Carol from next door to just shut up for 5 seconds…well instead of paying Carol, maybe see about an acupressure or tui na massage. If you’re not on board the needle train and acupuncture is off the table, these two are going to be your next-best option.
Keep in mind that these aren’t the same kind of massages you get during girl’s day at the spa. Prepare for some intense pressure! Both acupressure and tui na massage techniques work deep into your muscles and pressure points to release the tension creating your headache or migraine (using hands only, no needles!).
If you can’t make it in for an appointment, you can try this easy at-home acupressure option using pressure point LI-4 (or Hegu in Chinese). All you have to do is find the spot between the very base of your thumb and pointer finger. Just make sure you’re grabbing onto muscle instead of the loose skin above it. Massage this point for 5 minutes by moving in very firm circles. Repeat on your other hand and continue throughout the day until you feel the tension start to fade.
Before you get ahead of yourself, no, we’re not hinting at taking a hit of the devil’s lettuce. If you go into the office for your acupuncture, acupressure or tui na massage appointments, your practitioner might mention a prescription for medicinal herbs. These mixtures can help reduce your headache pain or the buildup of inflammation.
Common medicinal herbs used for migraines include; ginger, cayenne, turmeric, ginkgo biloba, chamomile, and rosemary, among others. Be sure to follow all the directions the practitioner gives you when taking it. They’ll probably have you brew a tea or create a tincture to sip on. Medicinal herbs can be a great first line of defense to hold you over until your acupuncture appointment if you sense a headache coming on.
8 Holistic Ways to Soothe Migraines at Home
Can’t make it to see a pro for a TCM treatment but don’t want to keep popping pain-killers all day? Try these 7 soothing, natural ways to ease a headache.
1. Turn Off the Screens
Scrolling through Twitter or getting the latest tea on Keeping Up with the Kardashians is a big no-no when you’re fighting a migraine. The bright screens and sounds probably feel like nails on a chalkboard in your head and will probably only perpetuate the tension. Turn off your phone, TV, tablets, and laptop. If you have to keep your phone at the ready, turn down the screen brightness.
2. Mint and Lavender Tea
Mint and lavender are two powerful medicinal herbs known to help reduce pain and help you relax. Brew some potent tea to sip on during your migraine. Bonus benefits come from inhaling the steam as the tea steeps. Both the taste and scent of these herbs can be helpful!
3. Get the Blood Flowing
Exercise while your head feels like it’s splitting open? Oh yeah, sure, sounds fun! (Said no one ever). We know it sounds like the opposite of what you should do during a migraine, but you might be surprised by what a brisk walk or yoga flow can do to lower your pain! Getting the blood moving can not only distract you from the pain, but also help release the tension and blockages that created the head pain in the first place.
4. Black Out & Pass Out
Pretend like it’s Halloween and black out your room or apartment. Turn off the lights, shut the curtains, and make your space as dark as possible. This should provide an instant sense of relief on your eyes and hopefully help release that tension enough to help you get some shut-eye. If you can sleep, do it! Sleep is when our body can most easily fight illnesses and make important repairs (like getting your head back in order).
5. Cold Compress with Essential Oils
Since alcohol is off the table, we figured out a healthier way to numb out this kind of pain. Fill a large kitchen bowl with ice and a cup or two of water, then add a few drops of your favorite soothing essential oil (we’d suggest lavender, rosemary, or mint). Then, soak a washcloth in the mix before ringing it out and placing it on your forehead.
Need a little more oompfh? Wrap the cloth around a bag of ice to really get that numb feeling.
If you can’t remember the last time you drank water, we’ve got big issues, honey. Dehydration is one of the top causes of headaches and migraines. Whether that’s the source of your trouble or not, it’s a good idea to keep a big reusable water bottle next to you and drink up.
Bless up! A little bit of coffee can go a long way to defeat a migraine. If you skimped out on your morning cup o’ joe, now’s your chance to make up for lost time. A small cup of a caffeinated drink can actually stop a migraine (if you catch it early) or amp up the effects of those painkillers.
8. Avoid killer foods
Food sensitivities can cause migraines, but different people have different sensitivities. The best way to identify them is to keep a food diary, with a record of when you get those nasty migraines. Some usual suspects: hard cheeses, cured or processed meats, fermented foods like kimchee or sauerkraut, wine or other tyramine-containing foods.
Got a natural secret to getting rid of headaches? Share your tip with the welleum community!