Acupuncture and Migraines Brunswick MD and Lovettsville VA


What is a migraine?

From National Institutes of Health:

“Migraines are recurring attacks of moderate to severe pain. The pain is throbbing or pulsing, and is often on one side of the head. During migraines, people are very sensitive to light and sound. They may also become nauseated and vomit.”

Triggers include:

Anxiety and stress

Lack of food or sleep

Exposure to light

Other folk-wisdom triggers: sulfites, MSG, weather changes

Sometimes medicines help, and sometimes not. It used to be thought that migraines were caused by opening and closing blood vessels- now the mechanism is thought to be genes that switch on and off, affecting brain cells. What causes genes to switch on and off? Environment, exercise, food- lifestyle changes and habits.  Stress and relaxation also play a role.

Why do we specialize in migraines?– Sam’s story

“My mother had terrible migraines while I was growing up. I witnessed her being sick when driving, hiding in dark rooms for days and being miserable. I “lucked out” in that I didn’t get them myself once I grew up, but the memories of that suffering are still with me.  I’ve worked with people just like my mom  -dysfunctional and in pain- and brought them back to a state of enjoying life, managing their migraines and being able to function-without surgery, drugs or side effects.  These are people that have tried all that Western medicine has to offer and were not getting the results they needed. Sound familiar?”

Migraines from a Chinese perspective- it’s about the emotions.

Unlike Western medicine, Chinese medicine recognizes the importance of emotions and how they affect our health.

Migraines tend to occur along one of the meridians whose chief emotion is ANGER. Anger acts as a yang force in the body, raising blood pressure, causing the face to go red, and shouting to come out.

When we repress anger in the body, it has to go somewhere- we have not defeated it, but swallowed it. Especially for women, anger is not seen as a welcome or valid emotion, but it can be. Think of righteous anger, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Anger harnessed to a righteous cause is beneficial and makes change happen in the world.

It is when the anger is either unnecessary (anger over trash not being taken out, for example) and then anger is swallowed (which concentrates the feeling over time) that symptoms begin to occur.

So, after we get the parameters of the migraines- how they come and go, what side do they tend to occur on, how bad is the pain- we often ask the patient how they deal with anger in their life. How would the practitioner know they are angry? Do they yell, scream and shout? Do they brood and withdraw? These are clues as to how to get the anger to move out of the body, and stop causing your headaches.


Practices to work with anger and migraines

Breathing is one way to acknowledge your anger (which is part of the natural cycle of things) and begin to let it go. You can institute a daily meditation routine, or simply start with the moment you realize you are angry.

Close your eyes, even at your desk, and take 3 deep cleansing breaths.

Find the part of your body where you feel the anger or tension and put your hand on it.

Acknowledge its existence. Does it help you serve the greater good, or can it be let go? Could you take effective action on this? Will this make a difference in the world?

If it doesn’t serve the greater good, pledge to let it go! Breathe into it and tell it thank you for teaching you about anger, and that it is no longer needed.

A letting go exercise: Could you Would you When?

Could you let this go? Are you capable? Could you let it go for five minutes, until the end of the work day, or until the weekend?

Would you let it go? If not for yourself, then for someone else- a co-worker, your boss, your children, your spouse. For the sake of someone else?

When? Keep working through Could you and Would you until you can easily answer When? With NOW.

As you begin these practices, be aware- your “let-go muscles” are weak from disuse, most likely. You may have to let something go 100 times for it to be really gone. However, the more you re-program your body with this new habit, the easier it becomes not only to let things go, but to not grab them in the first place!

How can acupuncture specifically help migraines?

We work with the stress response – neurochemicals in the body- to make you less susceptible to stress and less reactive over time. Like training for a marathon, it takes some time and effort, but it can be hugely rewarding.

Case Study: “No time for myself.” = daily migraines

We had a patient who is a part of the “sandwich generation”- she is raising her child and also caring for a chronically ill mother with Lupus. Her main cause of her migraines, in our view, was that she took no time for herself at all, ever. In addition to treating points, I had her take an “extra bathroom trip” a day, where she could shut the door, sit on the toilet and breathe! From there, we moved to where her anger was and how she could find new ways to express it and handle it.  We worked with could you/would you/when. We were able to get her migraines from daily, debilitating pain –body screaming “TAKE TIME FOR ME OR I WILL SHUT YOU DOWN!” to a much milder episode once a month that could be handled by OTC medication. Sometimes it’s not about a total cure- it’s about finding the tools so you can manage your own condition.

How often would I need to come?

Migraine treatment plans: depends on the severity of the migraines and how they are affecting your daily life.

Having severe headaches daily-every 3 days? We’ll want to see you twice a week until significant change has occurred.

Having weekly-monthly? Once a week for 4 weeks to start, then we re-evaluate.

We have two locations for acupuncture in Greenbelt and acupuncture in Brunswick to serve you.

How can I pay for it?

We accept most major insurance. Each insurance plan is unique in what conditions they will cover for acupuncture.  We are happy to check your insurance benefits for you when you come in for your FREE 30 minute acupuncture consult. We also offer a discount at time-of-service if your insurance does not cover acupuncture. These days its usually worth it to check your benefits; you may be pleasantly surprised!

Take Action!

Does any of this resonate? If it does, please make an appointment today for a free consult so we can discuss your unique condition. Our office is in historic downtown Brunswick, MD, convenient to Lovettsville, VA, and the eastern panhandle of West Virginia.  For appointments in Brunswick, MD, call 301-834-7411, or use our 24/7 scheduler online by clicking the BookNow button!


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