Seventeen percent of women and six percent of men experience a migraine headache within their lifetime. This shows that women are likely to experience almost three times the amount of migraines than men. Headaches can be attributed to many factors including: Diet -Stress – Environment – Allergies (Food/Environmental) – Hormones (in women, estrogen changes due to menstrual cycle, pregnancy or menopause) – Trauma (old or current injuries can develop residual headaches) – Weather (barometric changes, humidity, seasonal light disorder and altitude) – Prescription medicine (check the side effects of your medicine) – Chemical makeup of an individual’s biology.

There is some evidence that a decrease of the brain neurotransmitter, serotonin, is responsible for headaches, particularly migraines. Common headaches are described as: Dull Ache – Throbbing – Sinus – Cluster – Eye – Migraine. The statistics are staggering when it comes to headache sufferers. For example, it is estimated that there are approximately one million people who suffer from cluster headaches. This sharp, relentless, gnawing pain is said to be suffered chronically by ten percent of that one million.

Migraines are now considered a disease and attack about thirty-million Americans. Varieties of mild to powerful western medicines have been developed to combat headaches. These range from simple Aspirin to steroids to opiates. Government standards deem these drugs safe, even though they pose some risks. Possible side effects of headache medicines are: Stomach bleeding – Nausea – Indigestion – Drowsiness – Discolored stool – Kidney complication – Vomiting – Constipation – Photo sensitivity – Mood swings – Insomnia – Liver damage. Naturopathic medicine and acupuncture do not use synthetic medicine and in turn, do not produce harmful side effects.

A naturopathic doctor may ask you to keep a ‘headache diary’ to try and track down any triggers that may cause your headache. Below is a list of some of the changes and/or remedies you may experience for headache relief when using naturopathic medicine:

Diet – Much of our food is processed creating triggers for development of a headache. A naturopathic doctor may ask you to reduce or eliminate such foods as soft drinks, white flour, caffeine, alcohol (sulfites and tannin in wine are notorious culprits) or artificial sweeteners to name a few.

Supplements – Headaches could often be as simple as replenishing lacking vitamins or minerals. You may be asked to include foods high in particular ones and take supplements accordingly. Some examples may include: magnesium, vitamin-d, zinc, riboflavin, coenzyme Q10 or alpha lipoic acid.

Classical Chinese Medicine – Headaches are considered stagnant or blocked Qi (pronounced – Chee). Qi is known as your ‘life force’. Chinese medicines have been used, for thousands of years, to restore the balance of this force. They can come in liquid, pill, powder or a traditional prescription which is filled in raw form and boiled into a tea.

Herbs – For headaches these might include: valerian root, ginger, feverfew and butterbur.

Homeopathy and Flower Essences – These two choices work with the vibration of the plant, mineral or animal used in the remedy. Some call it ‘vibrational therapy’ or ‘energetic medicine’. A naturopathic doctor often works wonders to combat your headaches using these methods.
Homeopathic or flower essence remedies might include:
Bryonia alba – wild hops
Cocculus indicus – Indian cockle (a fruit bearing plant from the Middle East)
Gelsemium – an evergreen vine
Nux vomica – a toxic herb specially prepared to heal
Rock rose
Red and white chestnut
Homeopathic remedies are found in liquid or dissolvable pellet form, administered under the tongue or diluted in distilled water. There is usually no taste.

For headaches, acupuncture can be a fast relieving and sometimes permanent remedy. By following the meridians or energy lines of the body, the acupuncturist can help adjust energy flow.

Previously mentioned, the Qi can get stuck or overrun within these meridians similar to rocks in a river or no rocks where some may be needed. Stimulating or slowing down these points can affect the flow, bringing the body back into homeostasis or equilibrium. Because headaches are often associated with vasoconstriction (constricted blood flow) and sometimes vasodilatation (widening of the blood vessels), acupuncture is the perfect remedy to adjust this. In addition, acupuncture can often have positive residual effects, sometimes relieving pain elsewhere as well.

Some points for headache treatment can be in the neck, ears, face, feet or hands. Published in a 2009 issue of Military Medicine is the following quote by Doctor Sharon Plank: “… an acupuncture intervention for the management of chronic daily headache showed significant findings in the improvement of a number of variables. Pain, validated headache measurements, depression, and quality of life all improved. The incidence of side effects was low especially when compared to standard medical treatment.”

The British Medical Journal concluded after a 2004 study titled: Acupuncture for chronic headache in primary care: large, pragmatic, randomized trial, “A policy of using a local acupuncture service in addition to standard care results in persisting, clinically relevant benefits for primary care patients with chronic headache, particularly migraine. Expansion of NHS acupuncture services for headache should be considered.”

If you suffer from headaches, schedule your naturopathic or acupuncture appointment with Dr. Lisanti of Integrative Med Solutions (IMS).  It’s with the intention of inspiration and integrity that our highly trained doctor creates customized health plans that synergize the best of healing arts with contemporary natural medical science.  Please call us at 914.337.2980 to make an appointment or feel free to email us an appointment query.

2 Responses to “Naturopathic Medicine and Acupuncture for Headaches”

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