How to Get Rid of Migraines with Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Migraine pain can be unbearable. Even if you took tons of ibuprofen and coffee, you might notice no improvements, which is quite a devastating feeling. Intense migraines can affect our family engagement, work, and make everyday activities more challenging and even disturbing.

Migraines can last for four hours, but some severe cases can go for more than three days. Since painkillers do not always ease the pain, people start to look for other treatments that could provide long-term results. Acupuncture for migraines is a commonly used treatment for severe headaches that may last for days. It’s a natural, safe, and drug-free approach that will not only ease the discomfort but also provide improvements that last.

In this article, we’ll elaborate on the idea of acupuncture for headaches and see how to get rid of migraines with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

Acupuncture for Migraines San Diego – Don’t Let Headaches Ruin Your Days

Makari Wellness is a leading acupuncture clinic in San Diego, CA. We specialize in treating symptoms of acute and chronic pain, eye conditions, neurological disorders, and a wide variety of diseases that Western medicine considers incurable. Makari Wellness offers unique combinations of Traditional medicine, modern functional supplementation, manual therapies and various styles of acupuncture for a natural solution to these often debilitating conditions. Book your appointment at (888) 871-8889 and experience the best acupuncture for migraines San Diego can offer.


Migraines Overview

A migraine is described as a severe headache that causes throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, often on one side of the head. It is commonly followed by nausea, vomiting, and oversensitivity to light and sound. It can last from hours to days, and the pain can be so intensive that it affects your daily activities.


Migraine symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Apart from persisting pain, people experiencing migraine can go through the following phases:

  • Visual disturbances (seeing various shapes or flashes of light)
  • Weakness or numbness in the face
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Hearing noises
  • Uncontrollable movements
  • Extreme sensitivity to light, sound, and even smell or touch
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Not all those with migraines will experience the same inconveniences.


Potential migraine causes may include the following:

  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Alcohol, especially wine
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Bright light and glare
  • Bad sleeping habits (missing sleep or too much sleep)
  • Weather changes
  • Certain medications
  • Processed foods
  • Skipping meals
  • Food additives.

Can Acupuncture Help Migraines?

Pain-relieving medications can alleviate the pain, but only temporarily. That said, they offer symptomatic relief that seems like a convenient solution at first. However, when a person starts to feel unbearable pain that lasts longer than usual, they want to try some more efficient solutions, such as acupuncture for migraine relief.

Acupuncture: Essential Facts

Acupuncture originates from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and it has been used for centuries as an effective treatment for acute and chronic pain reduction and some more complex conditions, including those associated with the ocular, nervous, and cardiovascular system.

Acupuncture involves the use of small and fine acupuncture needles that a practitioner places on specific points of the patient’s body. The stimulation of these points encourages the flow of vital energy (qi) and improves blood circulation, the two most critical factors for achieving optimal well-being.

Does Acupuncture Hurt?

Acupuncture is a relatively painless and deeply relaxing experience. People are often concerned about the procedure since it involves the needles, but you shouldn’t be worried once you’re in the hands of a skilled practitioner who will treat you with minimal discomfort.

Acupuncture treatments should be a pleasant, safe, and tranquilizing experience that will help you relax and achieve a true therapeutic effect.


How Does Acupuncture Work for Migraines?

Acupuncture’s primary goal is to keep the energy flow balanced. Therefore, a certified acupuncturist uses the needles to stimulate specific acupoints, which are believed to be a key to eliminating pain and slowing its transmission.

Acupuncture works by eliminating negative energy that is causing the pain. Since the therapy stimulates various systems of your body, it promotes a healing response and encourages the body to produce its own painkillers. Over time, it becomes able to prevent the onset of migraines and severe headaches.

Another essential detail about acupuncture and migraines is releasing hormones, such as endorphin, which triggers a response from your body, relieving the pain provoked by migraine and tension headaches.

Chinese medicine is generally convenient for treating chronic conditions caused by a wide array of factors. Since it is entirely based on a holistic approach, which not only focuses on the core problem but addresses the whole organism and underlying conditions, you are more likely to get rid of headaches and all its byproducts permanently.

The most vital benefits of TCM and acupuncture for migraines include:

  • Significant increase in energy
  • Restful sleep patterns
  • Chronic stress reduction
  • Emotional balance
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Enhanced metabolism
  • Boosted spiritual and emotional growth.

Since any of the mentioned issues can lead to a migraine, your headaches and tensions will disappear as soon as they are solved.

What are Acupuncture Points for Migraines?

An acupuncturist will choose exact acupoints for treating migraines. Combining these points will encourage blood and energy flow, promoting headache relief, and eliminating its potential causes.

The most useful acupuncture points for migraines include:

  • Shuai gu (GB 8): This point is located in the temporal region, and it is useful for treating migraine resulting from qi stagnation. It is also essential for eliminating one-sided or generalized headache, head wind, and persistent pain.
  • Taiyang (Extra 1): The stimulation of this point promotes the circulation of essential anti-pathogenic qi, preventing wind disorder and, thus, tension headaches.
  • Waiguan (SJ 5): This distal point on the limb is selected to treat all the migraine-related symptoms. It is vital for reactivating qi and promoting its flow through meridians.

There are more essential acupoints practitioners often select when treating migraines. They choose body areas following different criteria, which is based on these factors:

  • Hyperactivity of liver yang
  • Deficiency of qi and blood
  • Wind-phlegm blocking the channels
  • Blood stasis.

Ear Acupuncture for Migraines

Ear (auricular) acupuncture involves the insertion of acupuncture needles into particular acupoints around the ear. There are more than 200 acupoints in the ear, but only 10 of them are commonly used during the treatment since their stimulation delivers the best outcomes.

A typical ear acupuncture session will last from 10 to 20 minutes, during which you’ll sit or lie quietly. A practitioner may focus on other points, as well. The session is entirely safe and free of side effects. Ear acupuncture has provided significant results in treating migraine pain and delivering long-term improvements to patients with chronic headaches.

How to Relieve Migraines with Acupressure?

Acupressure is another alternative treatment for severe headaches and migraines. It is based on TCM techniques aimed at re-establishing blood and qi flow, focusing on particular points whose stimulation promotes pain relief.

Unlike acupuncture, which involves the needles, acupressure uses the hand stimulation. Patients often prefer this method to the needling since it seems “less scary.” The procedure is quite similar to a massage, and the key points that need to be stimulated will depend on the type of pain you’re treating. The acupressure points that will ease the pain are the following:

  • LI-4 (Hegu): Hegu is the most important acupressure point for migraines. It is the space between the base of your thumb and index finger.
  • LU-9: You can find this point on your inner wrist, on the same side as your thumb.
  • SJ-17: This point is placed on the back of your jawbone, below your ear.
  • ST-36: This point’s stimulation is vital for those whose migraine attacks are followed by nausea and vomiting. You can find it between your leg muscles and shin bones, below your kneecaps.

Acupressure helps deal with depression, anxiety, nausea, and other conditions that might impact the onset of migraines. Once your practitioner shows you the vital acupressure points that help a headache, you can perform them yourself in case of migraine attacks.

Chinese Herbal Remedies for Migraines

Chinese herbal medicine has been used for centuries for treating various conditions, including migraines. It is beneficial for different reasons, but mostly since it is completely safe and natural.

The fact that Chinese herbal medicine has been widely used in China and other great countries worldwide proves its highly potent effects. Years before modern medicine development, many cultures used herbal remedies to treat chronic pain and migraines with success, contributing to their popularity.

The most useful herbal remedies for migraines are:

  • Feverfew
  • Butterbur
  • Peppermint
  • Willow
  • Ginger
  • Caffeine
  • Valerian
  • Coriander seed
  • Dong Quai
  • Lavender oil
  • Rosemary
  • Raw potato cuttings
  • Honeysuckle
  • Evodia.

According to Chinese herbal medicine, green tea (caffeine) is also efficient in treating migraine-related pain, especially when combined with other herbs.

A licensed Chinese herbalist will recommend an adequate formula for your condition, addressing all the symptoms you might have. Herbal remedies are often used alongside acupuncture or acupressure in order to provide better and more long-lasting results.

Moxibustion and Acupuncture Therapy for Migraines

Moxibustion is a pretty useful TCM treatment that involves the burning of mugwort (moxa) on specific acupoints. It has a strong therapeutic effect, and it is convenient for a wide variety of conditions.

Moxibustion can be used as a standalone treatment, but acupuncturists tend to perform it alongside other TCM treatments. The combination of acupuncture and moxibustion has provided remarkable results in treating tension headaches since it fosters the relaxation of the muscles in the neck-shoulder area, alleviating headaches.

Functional Medicine for Migraines

Functional medicine is a patient-centered and science-based approach focused on patients’ unique needs and medical conditions. It assesses an individual’s genetic, biochemical, and lifestyle factors to create a unique treatment plan for their chronic migraine.

The primary goal of functional medicine is to relieve pain, restore function, reduce the occurrence, and prevent further migraines progression. Since it entirely focuses on the person’s health, you have more chances to solve your chronic problems.