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headacheMost people at some point in their lives have encountered a headache, which is much more common than you would probably believe. According to recent research by the WHO, they have found around 47% of the adult population have experienced at least 1 headache in the last year alone. Some experiencing them more frequent than others, which is a headache in itself.

With so many daily sufferers out there the most common response is to take an aspirin or paracetamol. For some, this may help relieve the pain. But only in the short term. Over time the body becomes immune to the drug unless the dosage is increased. Moreover, this type of pain relief masks a problem rather than curing it.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) takes a long-term approach to tackle the root cause of a problem. Practitioners will want to find out why there is a headache in the first place. The reason will be unique to each individual and it is the practitioner’s job to provide an accurate diagnosis. This is key in TCM as without it treatment times will be lengthy or there will be no progress made at all.

A good practitioner is good at detective work. In addition to asking the sufferer basic questions about the headache and any pertinent medical history, the practitioner will more than likely also check the pulse and tongue which are excellent indicators of what is going on within the body. Practitioners are highly trained to interpret these observations, so an accurate diagnosis can be made.

Here are a few causes of some simple headaches:

Qi Deficiency
According to TCM, Qi (pronounced “chi”) is the circulating life force. It moves blood around the body, giving energy to everything it comes into contact with. Insufficient Qi results in the body lacking energy, and the Qi will be unable to nourish the brain properly to function normally.

This type of condition is characterised by more severe headaches when the patient is under stress and/or fatigued. Other symptoms include light dizziness and general tiredness.

Blood Deficiency
Blood nourishes the whole body with nutrients, so the lack of it does not feed into the brain properly. This deficiency causes imbalance around the body causing other symptoms including sluggishness, fatigue, and poor sleep.

More susceptible to women, headaches worsen before or during menstruation. Common symptoms that follow this include insomnia, vivid dreams, palpitations, dizziness and a paler complexion.

Liver Stagnation
In TCM, the role of the liver is to store blood and regulate the flow of Qi. Since one of the roles of Qi is to propel blood around the body, if the liver does not function correctly, then the flow of Qi is weakened and blood is impeded. This causes headaches.

Common symptoms in this case include an expanding type headache, usually on the sides of the head. Dizziness with blurred vision, easily upset or angered, a bitter taste in the mouth and insomnia.

There are multiple reasons why people have headaches, and I have listed only a few of the many causes. TCM sees disease in a different way to typical western medicine. TCM sees disease as an imbalance and, when correctly diagnosed, can be successfully treated by focusing on the root cause.

For more information on this subject, or if you would like to discuss your own personal problem feel free to email me at: