Traditional Chinese Remedies for Headaches

By , Category : Pain

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

Chinese Cures for HeadachesTraditional Chinese remedies for headaches come in many shapes and sizes–used for centuries in the Far East and here in America today, Chinese remedies for headaches include acupuncture as well as Chinese herbs.

The best treatment for your headache depends on the type of headache you’re experiencing in addition to the symptoms. Traditional Chinese remedies can be used for migraines, tension headaches, cluster headaches, post-traumatic headaches and those resulting from existing diseases you may have acquired.

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How Chinese Medicine Can Potentially Help Remedy Headaches

The effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine lies largely in the way it views headaches, their roots and symptoms. Because nearly anything can cause a headache and it can effect individuals in vastly different ways, traditional Chinese medicine looks at the headache in relation to the whole of the body—this concept is known as the “the confluence of yang.” It’s this unique perspective that makes Chinese remedies some of the best natural remedies for headaches. Instead of taking a one-size fits all approach, Ancient Chinese Cures look at how the brain communicates with the rest of your body and is fueled by creating harmony via specific nutrients or activating pressure points.

Ancient Chinese remedies take the view that that proper nourishment and functionality of your organs are central to the symptoms of what you feel in your head. Anything that impedes the flow of nutrients to the head through meridians and collaterals—the communication pathways between your brain and organs—will result in pain. Therefore, remedies focus around total health and nourishment to affected areas that may be causing the blockage. This explains the diversity in treatment techniques we’ll explore shortly.

Traditional Chinese Medicine for Headaches

Here are the different types of headaches traditional Chinese medicine cures naturally:

  • Tension headaches: These are the most common type of headache and are marked by pain at the temples or back of the head or neck.
  • Cluster headaches: Tend to affect men slightly more than women and occur in groups or cycles. They are characterized by a sharp or debilitating pain in one side of the head, usually causing a watery eye or nose on the same side of the face. Cluster headaches can be treated with acupuncture or Chinese herbs.
  • Sinus headaches: Common in people who suffer from sinus infections, which is often the culprit for the headache? Acupuncture around the nose and sinus area is an effective treatment.
  • Rebound headaches: A type of recurring headache that can actually be caused by using over-the-counter painkillers. If you’re using drugs regularly to treat headaches (more than a couple of times per week), you’re at an increased risk for rebound headaches because you’re building a dependency.
  • Migraine headaches: These headaches include severe, often debilitating pain for a wide range of time, often between four and 72 hours. The pain is a strong, throbbing pain usually behind one eye and comes with nausea and sensitivity to light.

9 Traditional Chinese Remedies for Headaches

Here are nine traditional Chinese remedies that you can try to potentially help relieve your  headache:

1. Acupuncture: One of the most effective Chinese remedies for headaches is acupuncture. One study found that this natural treatment reduced pain by 31% in people with chronic tension headaches. Another study of different headaches found that one session lowered the number of days people spent with a headache. It also lowered the number of painkillers they had to buy. For headache treatments, the needles will often be inserted in the legs, arms, and shoulders. This has a high success rate, and is capable of limiting the pain of virtually any headache. The session lasts between five and 30 minutes, and may have to be performed weekly for an extended period of time. This remedy can also use different pressure points to alleviate various types of headaches.

2. Ginkgo biloba: This Ancient Chinese herb can stop inflammation because its core ingredients have shown to provide natural treatments to headaches. Chew ginkgo, or take it in powder form, at about 500 milligrams with water every five hours or so when you begin to feel those nagging headache symptoms.

3. Chinese massage: A type of acupressure massage can work wonders for a minor headache. There are very simple ways you yourself could cure the pain. One way is to find the point in the webbing of your thumb (between the thumb and index finger). Press in there firmly and hold for a couple of minutes. Repeat with the other hand. You should feel relaxed. The other point is directly between the eyebrows at the start of the forehead. Apply gentle pressure for here for two or three minutes. It’s an easy natural remedy that you can do yourself whenever needed.

4. Peppermint oil: Smooth the oil across your temples and watch a tension headache start to slip away. One double-blind study found that a 10% peppermint oil lotion rubbed three times in a half-hour over the temples was more effective than “Tylenol” in relieving headache pain. Another one found that peppermint oil was just as effective as over-the-counter painkillers. Peppermint oil has been used as a Traditional Chinese Cure for centuries.

5. Angelica 14 and Xanthium 12: Combine these two products, available at most health stores, to beat down a headache caused by phlegm. Angelica helps get your digestive tract in order, while other ingredients stifle inflammation. Congestion is cleared and circulation is restored to the head.

6. Po chai: This traditional Chinese cure can be particularly good for headaches caused by indigestion. It is made by combining several herbs, and the remedy was first introduced in 1896. One dose will likely be sufficient. If you are dizzy as well, it’s known to stop the room from spinning.

7. Xiao yao wan: This natural Chinese herbal remedy could treat a headache caused by indigestion, food allergies, or even depression. It helps build “Qi” in the organs of your digestive tract—the spleen, pancreas, and stomach. It also helps the flow of bile to the liver and gallbladder.

8. Lung tan xie gan wan: This is a natural remedy that is said to clean the “heat” from the blood of the liver. As such, it’s meant to battle liver-related headaches. It helps with a healthy flow of bile. Typically, you take about 12 pills a day, but follow the package directions. It’s good for headaches possibly accompanied by blisters in the mouth, constipation, or urinary tract infections.

9. Niu huang chieh tu pien: Skullcap, rhubarb and gypsum are its main ingredients—making this formula a strong anti-inflammatory. It is one of the best natural Chinese remedies for clearing a phlegm-heat headache. This formula treats a headache by cooling down inflammation and encouraging toxins to leave the liver and large intestine.

Read Next:

Sources for Today’s Article:
Liu, W., “Averting Headaches with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs,” Traditional Chinese Medicine Information web site; http://www.tcmpage.com/hpheadaches.html, last accessed December 30, 2015.
“How Chinese Medicine Understands Headache Disorders,” Shen-Nong web site; http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/exam/headaches_chinese_medicine_understands.html, last accessed December 30, 2015.
“Don’t let headaches interfere with your life: Chinese medicine can help,” Pacific College of Oriental Medicine web site; http://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2015/03/23/dont-let-headaches-interfere-your-life-chinese-medicine-can-help, last accessed December 30, 2015.
Jurmain, J., “Headaches relieved with these nine Chinese cures,” Doctor’s Health Press web site, July 26, 2012; http://www.doctorshealthpress.com/pain-articles/headaches-relieved-with-these-nine-chinese-cures.


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Dr. Jeffrey Shapiro, MD

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After receiving athletic and academic awards at Yale and Stanford, Jeff has coached those seeking peak wellness, appeared on ABC News 20/20 and served as a consultant for CBS News 60 Minutes and The Late Show with David Letterman. As the author of many research studies and practicing anesthesiology/critical care medicine for more than 20 years, Jeff can be your guide to common sense decision making regarding drugs, supplements and vitamins. With no corporate sponsors and no vitamins or supplements... Read Full Bio »