I put off having acupuncture for migraines for many years because I just don't like needles in any shape or form. They just freak me out!
It took me years to work up the courage to go for a treatment.
I went to numerous acupuncturists.
Some prescribed herbs as well, some took my pulse and some only did the needle part of the treatment.
The best one I ever went to did all three plus a lovely back massage with special (strong smelling) tonics for the body before the needles went in. I loved that bit. He was my favorite, but alas he moved back to New Zealand.
I am sad to say that after about 2 years of regular treatments I saw no change in the patterns of my migraines. None. He used a different technique using the inner meridian points, not on the limbs which are the points I go over below. I have much better results with these points as shown.
Acupuncture is the most well known Chinese cure for migraine headache. The therapist treats the whole body not just the headache. And I have been told that what works for some does not work for others, which makes it sound like a bit hit and miss.
I spent 3 years studying TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and was just starting acupuncture when I got side swiped with yet another health issue.
Here are the specific migraine points that my acupuncture doctor used on me for reducing my right sided 'liver-fire' migraines. I went weekly for over 3 years. As TCM is one of my passions, I will give you a very brief description about what each point does.
As you won't be able to access the needles with the glides unless you are a practitioner, you might like to use your index finger to tap the point. I have also written this post on migraine pressure point techniques.
You can also use a tens machine or an electric acupuncture pen that uses a low electrical stimulus instead of a needle to stimulate these points and experiment with.
Do not do any of these points if you are pregnant. Please seek professional guidance first.
First things first!
The way to measure a tsun is to put your four fingers together and as they are held closely – this is three tsun (also cun). I prefer to just call them thumb widths.
Liver Meridian 3 (LIV3) is located in the foot at the junction of the first and second toe in the depression between and above them. Liver 3 is one of my favorite points. I can press it with a pen if I have to and it moves the energy away from my head and away from the migraine!
LIV 3 is a Shu Stream Point, it sedates Liver Yang and calms the mind. It strengthens the Liver and is used for: after a headache, migraine, irritability, frustration and tension. Ah – that is why I must like it so much! I do tend to get frustrated with my migraines.
I have been warned that this point may also cause the reverse effect with migraines, so experiment first. See if pressing it works for you.
Spleen Meridian 6 (SP6) is located 3 tsun above the tip of the medial malleolus. In English – that is 3 thumb widths above your ankle, inside. The Spleen Meridian is Yin – Earth. This point clears dampness, moves blood, and nourishes Kidney Yin.
It is used for all gynecological problems, irregular menses, and much more. It helps smooth the flow of Liver Chi – which helps pain and premenstrual tension. It nourishes the Kidney Yin by reducing thirst and hot flushes. There are so many other benefits with acupuncture for migraines.
Triple Heater Meridian 5 (TH5) is located 2 tsun above the wrist between the Ulna and Radius. Translated, it is on the top of your forearm 2 thumb widths, or three fingers, above your wrist crease. This point is the External Wind Heat Point and is used for lateral (on the side) headaches.
Large Intestine or more commonly called the Colon Meridian 4 (LI4) is located on the hand. It is the web between the thumb and the index finger, ½ way between on the index finger side. The Colon Meridian is Yang – Metal. It opens up the four gates and is a major tonification point.
It is used for many things like constipation and diarrhea, abdominal pain, but is most widely known for headaches. Like I said, there are just so many other benefits with using acupuncture for migraines.
Finally the Gall Bladder points 12 and 20 are used for occipital headaches and wind headaches.
When you put your hands on your head, like I show here, your thumbs naturally fall to the occiput. You can press along the bone and you will feel some indents. I recommend seeing a proper acupuncturist to learn where these points are for you because you can also bring on headaches if you miss them! So exercise caution.
Please see migraine pressure point for more instructions on the press and release technique.
I did find that the weekly acupuncture for migraines reduced the severity of each migraine, but not the number of occurrences or duration. And it did become an expensive exercise to maintain long term. Once I found a triptan that worked, I no longer noticed the reduction because the pain killer took over, so I stopped going for treatments.
I did notice that the weekly treatments increased my energy levels overall and balanced my emotions for a few days afterwards, so I would not hesitate to recommend trying acupuncture for migraines as an effective treatment for pain management and it has other health benefits as well.
It may be especially useful when you cannot take the prescribed medications available for migraines. Finding what works for you is essential. It might also be worth finding out if there is a teaching or community clinic close to you that may have reduced rates.
In support of my acupuncture for migraines post, Nick, a qualified acupuncturist addressed many of the fears raised in my forum in a much better fashion than I ever could. I am not a licensed acupuncturist!
One of the most important points was this one:
“Fear #6 -Forbidden Points with Pregnancy
There are a few points that are generally agreed to avoid during pregnancy for fear of causing a miscarriage. They are LI4, Sp6, GB21, Sp6, UB60-67 and any abdominal and back points below the umbilicus.
Some acupuncturists question the validity of this list on the grounds that acupuncture can’t really force the body to do something it doesn’t naturally want to do. Further study is needed to determine if these points really are unsafe. With pregnancy it is best to err on the side of caution so it is best to avoid them with pregnant women until they are ready to deliver.”
Until next time, be well and be pain free,
Acupuncture for Migraines - That's A Good Point!