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Acupuncture for Headaches

Acupuncture for Headaches: Same Day Relief?

by Dr. Davina, L.Ac., DAOM.

When I first arrived in China, nearly 20 years ago, I was in really bad shape.

I was having 3-5 severe headaches a week, often lasting all day, often making me nauseous to the point of vomiting.

Since I was so nauseous, I often couldn’t take pain killers, and would just have to endure throbbing, pounding pain. And since the headaches were often set off by pressure on the back of my neck, I couldn’t even lay down during these severe headaches.

Needless to say, I was ready to try anything. When a colleague recommended me to an acupuncturist, I decided it was worth a shot. At first, most of the needles went into the areas I was having pain, mainly in my back, shoulders, neck and head. However, after nearly 10 sessions, I was disappointed in the results, and had to admit I wasn’t feeling much better. But I decided I’d give acupuncture one last try before giving up.

After discussing my concerns with my acupuncturist, she decided to try a different approach.

Instead of needling locally around the painful areas, she decided to try balancing the meridians with points below the knee and elbow. I always remember her inserting the very first needle for this new strategy. She inserted it into the palm of my hand (what I now know as HT 7), and I felt a powerful electric shock shoot up my arm into my shoulder. The acupuncturist said she didn’t know exactly what I had experienced, but those sensations often indicate a good session. I felt about the same after the session, and decided to wait and see if anything happened. I didn’t wait long.

The next day, while teaching English, my students asked if there was anything wrong with me.

When I checked the mirror to see what they were referring to, I found that my skin had flushed a deep red, similar to a niacin flush. I drank lots of water, and the flush eventually passed.

Afterwards everything seemed unremarkable, and I resumed class. But, what had changed, is I didn’t get a headache that day, or the next, or for the entire next week. Finally, after 10 years of intense, painful, ongoing headaches, I went an entire 6 months without a single one. Even now 20 years later, I’ve gone from 3-5 severe headaches a week, to 3-5 vague, mild headaches a year.

From this experience, I understand how frustrating and debilitating headaches can be. Because of this, it became a personal goal of mine that if a patient came in with a headache, they would leave without one.

How is this possible?

Acupuncture for Headaches

One of the key benefits of acupuncture is its ability to target multiple factors contributing to headaches. Unlike conventional medications that primarily mask symptoms, acupuncture addresses underlying imbalances in the body, such as muscle tension, stress, hormonal fluctuations, and poor circulation.

By promoting relaxation, reducing inflammation, and enhancing blood flow, acupuncture offers a comprehensive approach to both evaluating and addressing headaches.

Furthermore, in school I naturally gravitated to a style of acupuncture that focuses on balancing the meridians to treat pain, and I usually avoid the local area when possible.

Named after its founder, Kikko style acupuncture gives me the tools to find just the right point to relieve pain, even on the opposite side of the body. WIth this powerful tool, I’m usually able to give immediate relief to painful areas. Consequently, most of patients notice their headache is gone by the end of their session.

Standard disclaimer, the human body is so complex, and possible sources of a condition so infinitely variable, no medical results can be guaranteed. Additionally, the results of acupuncture are cumulative, may require several sessions for truly long-term results, and the headache is likely to come back if underlying issues are not fully addressed.

That being said, based on my track record of nearly 10 years of practice, I can confidently say if you come to me with a headache, there’s a 95% chance you will leave your acupuncture session without it.

Many Lives Chinese Medicine
Acupuncturist Redwood City
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