Natural and Alternative Headache Treatment Options

Headache Treatment {introduction}

There are four major categories of headache--vascular, tension, inflammatory and traction. The most common of these are tension headaches, which result from tightened facial and neck muscles and can be brought on by stress or anxiety. The most common form of vascular headache is a migraine, which is characterized by sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and intense pain on one or both sides of the head. Tension and inflammatory headaches are generally linked to other conditions, such as stroke or sinus infection.
Below you will find alternative and natural treatment options including those from a Chinese Medicine perspective for headache.

TCM Diagnostic Patterns Related to Headache

Listed below are Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) diagnostic patterns that are commonly involved with this western medical condition/symptom. Properly applied, Chinese Medicine (including acupuncture and herbal medicine) treats patterns not individual symptoms/conditions which may better account for the range of symptoms often experienced by individuals. Pattern diagnosis/treatment is a crucial part of using Chinese Medicine for disease prevention instead of focusing on solely symptomatic treatments as is somewhat more common in western medicine. For more on this concept, please read What Does Acupuncture Treat? Or Treating the "Cause" and not the "Symptoms".

Herbal Formulas for Headache Available From Our Store

Herbal Formulas

You may click on any of the products below for more information, or view all formulas listed by condition.

Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Wan - Headache, Vertigo, Dizziness, Cold Limbs Herbal Formula
Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Wan - Dizziness, Vertigo, Herbal Formula

Uses: Headache, Dizziness, Cold Limbs, Irritable. Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Wan (Pian) translates into english as the "Pinellia, Atractylodis and Gastrodia Combination" formula. From a Chinese...

Chai Hu Shu Gan Wan - PMS, Menstrual Pain, Irregularity, Stress Herbal Formula
Chai Hu Shu Gan Wan - PMS, Menstrual Pain & Irregularity, Emotional Stress Herba

Uses: PMS, Menstrual Pain, Irregular Menstruation, Emotional Stress, Depression, Irritability. Chai Hu Shu Gan Wan (Pian, Bupleurum Shu Gan Pills, Chai Hu Shu Gan Tang) is a well respected and commonly...

Gan Mao Ling - Cold & Flu Herbal Formula
Gan Mao Ling - Cold & Flu Herbal Formula

Uses: Cold, Flu, Cough, Congestion.  Gan Mao Ling, literally "common cold effective remedy" in Chinese, is a Chinese herbal medicine formulated for common cold and flu. It is...

Long Dan Xie Gan Wan - Headache, Irritability, Leukorrhea Herbal Formula
Long Dan Xie Gan Wan - Headache, Leukorrhea, Irritability Herbal Formula

Uses: Headache, Dizziness, Irritability, Leukorrhea, Swelling of the Genitals.

Pian Tou Tong Wan - Migraine, Headaches Herbal Formul
Pian Tou Tong Wan - Migraines Headaches Herbal Formula

Uses: Migraines, Vascular Headaches, Catatonic Headaches, Neuralgia. Pian Tou Tong Wan (Pian Tou Tong Pian), literally "Migraine Pills" in Chinese, treats migraines, vascular headaches,...

Tian Ma Gou Teng Wan - Dizziness, Headache, Insomnia, Herbal Formula
Tian Ma Gou Teng Wan - Dizziness, Headache, Insomnia, Herbal Formula

Uses: Dizziness, Vertigo, Headache, Tinnitus, Insomnia, Excessive Dreaming.  Tian Ma Gou Teng Wan (Tian Ma Gou Teng Pian, Gou Teng Wan), translates as "Gastrodia and Uncaria Formula" which are the...

Tibetan Aru Balm
Tibetan Aru Balm

Uses: Cold, Flu, Itching, Pain. Aru Balm gives relief from cold, influenza, headache, insect bites, itching, muscle pain, sprains, and rheumatism.

Ingredients: lycine soja (Soyabean oil),...

Acupuncture Treatment Protocols

Listed below are articles describing related TCM diagnoses and acupuncture treatment points. These generally require an understanding of basic TCM Theory, however, general readers may find the protocols illustrative of how Chinese Medicine views and treats this condition.

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Submitted Case Studies

There are no case study submissions for this condition at this time.

Headache related articles

Below are articles related to this condition submitted by our practitioner members. See our practitioner member section for all articles.

  • Chad Dupuis's picture
    Contributor ~ Chad Dupuis
    Submitted On Mon, 03/17/2014 - 11:12am

    If there is one recommendation I universally recommend to people it is to learn and practice meditation.  So many problems in our lives are caused and/or contributed to by ongoing unresolved emotional and physical tension (i.e. "stress").  Meditation is shown time and time again to be an effective antidote to these issues.

  • Chad Dupuis's picture
    Contributor ~ Chad Dupuis
    Submitted On Wed, 01/18/2012 - 12:36pm

    As we often mention on this website, Chinese Medicine treats "patterns" not individual symptoms/conditions.  A very common set of diagnostic patterns to have, particularly in westerners, is liver qi stagnation combined with spleen qi deficiency ("LSSD" in this study).  Symptoms-wise this often arises a

  • Chad Dupuis's picture
    Contributor ~ Chad Dupuis
    Submitted On Tue, 12/13/2011 - 10:20am

    Taiwanese researchers from Kuang Tien General Hospital recently conducted a study comparing acupuncture versus the western medication Topamax (topiramate, topiragen) for people with chronic migraines. 

  • Chad Dupuis's picture
    Contributor ~ Chad Dupuis
    Submitted On Tue, 07/12/2011 - 9:30am

    Chinese Medicine (including acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and tuina medical massage, among other techniques) is commonly used to treat migraines and other forms of headaches in patients.  People often come in when western medicines are either undesireable or are not offering the type of resolution they would like to experience.  In clinical settings acupuncture appears to be quite helpful for the range of Chinese Medicine patterns that can result in the patient experiencing migraines.

  • Judith Poole's picture
    Contributor ~ Judith Poole
    Submitted On Wed, 07/14/2010 - 10:45am

    A person with chronic neck pain started having headaches. From his description it occured to me that the gall bladder meridian runs through the neck. Often (not always) headaches relate to liver and gall bladder energy. Liver neurovasculars are found in the forehead. The liver has a lot of work to do. In addition to being charged with the job of eliminating toxins, it also clears emotions and processes hormones. Most of us these days have burdened livers.

    Here are a few things one can do to see if it relieves headache pain. I recommend doing them in the order indicated.

  • Chad Dupuis's picture
    Contributor ~ Chad Dupuis
    Submitted On Fri, 05/28/2010 - 7:42am

    Acupuncture is an often used and effective option for the non pharmaceutical treatment of migraines.  There are a host of options when treating patients with migraines with regards to the theory underlying your treatment point selections to the actual techniques used.  

  • yyh_staff's picture
    Contributor ~ yyh_staff
    Submitted On Wed, 08/16/2006 - 12:53pm

    Acupuncture is used often for the treatment of all types of headaches and migraines.  Outside of pain treatment there is very little western medicine can offer in the way of permanently resolving these issues.  The following article discusses a large German study using acupuncture in the treatment of headaches.

Forum posts related to Headache

Listed below are forum posts related to this condition. You can click on the posts to submit comments. If you would like to submit a forum post/question related to this condition, please click to submit. For all recent activity see our forum.

  • acupoints's picture
    Submitted On Wed, 06/25/2014 - 9:03pm
    Contributor ~ acupoints

    Acupressure Points for Headache. Click here

  • monkeymagix's picture
    Submitted On Thu, 02/06/2014 - 5:29am
    Contributor ~ monkeymagix

    A couple of days ago I had acupuncture magnets placed in my ear after an hours worth of auricular acupuncture these caused me severe headaches, sleeplessness, clammy sweaty skin and feeling of restlessness until I removed them...

    Comments on this post (3)

  • Raf's picture
    Submitted On Tue, 11/19/2013 - 5:48am
    Contributor ~ Raf

    Male: 64

    Main Complaint: headache (from Jueyin area to ST8/DU24), depression, insomnia

    Pulse: The pulse of the heart/ SI is impossible to feel, the other organs are stronger on the left side, and weaker on the right side (...

    Comments on this post (2)

  • brittleas's picture
    Submitted On Thu, 11/15/2012 - 3:18pm
    Contributor ~ brittleas

    I have the conditions listed above. The migraines and headaches seem to be hormonal. I have acne with pus to my neck area mostly (ST channel). I bought your herbs for migraines (Pian Tou Tong Wan) d/t noticed chinese vitex in there and thought it...

    Comments on this post (1)

  • dcasinelli's picture
    Submitted On Mon, 06/04/2012 - 10:39am
    Contributor ~ dcasinelli

    Veteran w/Headaches

    African American Female
    44 yrs old.

    Main Complaint: daily severe left side headaches from trauma, ‘92.
    Secondary Complaint: plantar fascitis
    Other: benign thyroid tumors.


    Comments on this post (5)

  • Vidhya ghopu's picture
    Submitted On Mon, 11/14/2011 - 4:21am
    Contributor ~ Vidhya ghopu

    Dear sir,

    1. Kindly provide me with acupuncture points for subacute retrocecul appendictis .

    2.If a patient suffers with back ankle pain which meridian to be energitised .I suggested UB60, UB59,UB61 and K3, as local points. kindly...

    Comments on this post (4)

  • pen101's picture
    Submitted On Thu, 09/29/2011 - 5:16am
    Contributor ~ pen101

     I had my first treatment a few days ago for a back problem that got severly worst last may.

    It was that bad that I had to relearn how to breathe.

    Physicians, chiro 's..couldn't help.


    Comments on this post (5)

  • kupy's picture
    Submitted On Sat, 01/29/2011 - 6:48pm
    Contributor ~ kupy


    A lot of time ago, i have read about diagnosis by moxibustion of first and last point of meridians.

    Someone know about that and can give me link that proves this?


    Comments on this post (2)

  • Eelyn's picture
    Submitted On Wed, 12/01/2010 - 8:44am
    Contributor ~ Eelyn

    Dear Dr,
    Im from Malaysia, and have been having a one sided headache for almost 10yrs, without a correct diagnosis, neither any cure, even after so many therapies(western&traditional). Some, say migraine, some say prolapse disc on...

    Comments on this post (5)

  • sabineba's picture
    Submitted On Sun, 10/10/2010 - 4:12pm
    Contributor ~ sabineba


    Dear Chad,

    I'm giving my grandmother (94) weakly some bodywork.
    She has been suffering from a flu-like low-grade fever for several weeks now and it won't go away. She also complains of pain in the joints...

    Comments on this post (4)

  • nickdziegler's picture
    Submitted On Fri, 07/09/2010 - 3:33pm
    Contributor ~ nickdziegler

    Hi.  I've had neck pain for about five years.  It consists of dull ache, stiffness/decrease in range of motion, popping around spine/shoulders, and occasionally sharp pains from between shoulder blades to base of skull.  ...

    Comments on this post (8)

  • kicsiangelgirl's picture
    Submitted On Fri, 04/02/2010 - 9:43pm
    Contributor ~ kicsiangelgirl

     i have been diagnosed with yang rising heat and liver blood stagnation. i daily get headaches and red eyes from stress (and im always angry and frustrated and moody) 

    i used to get acupuncture treatments once a week , it helped...

    Comments on this post (3)

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    Acupuncture Points for Headache

    Below you will find acupuncture points relevant to this condition. The points listed below are by no means the only relevant points, rather we list empirical or commonly used points as well as those applicable to use with acupressure as a self-help remedy.

    Professional Practitioner Information

    Below you will find links to technical information largely of interest to professional practitioners.

    TCM Herbs and Formulas for Headache

    TCM Herbal Formulas for Headache

    Listed below are TCM Herbal Formulas related to this condition.
    General Indications Functional Grouping Combinations
    Xie Xin Wan - Drain the Epigastrium Formula - TCM Herbal Formula

    Signs of damp-heat with interior clumping which may settle into the abdominal region and/or rise upward to the head.  Fever, irritability, red eyes, constipation, dark urine, flushed face - middle warmer issues - jaundice, dysentery, tongue/mouth ulcers.

    Pulse will be be wiry and rapid and the Tongue will be red, swollen with a yellow greasy tongue coating.

    Clear Heat and Relieve Toxicity, Clear Heat
    Long Dan Xie Gan Wan - Gentiana Purge Liver Formula - TCM Herbal Formula

    Hypochondriac pain, bitter taste in the mouth, irritability, easily angered, headache, dizziness, red, and possibly sore, eyes, diminished hearing and/or swollen sensation in ears/head.  May have urinary symptoms such as painful, hot urination perhaps with swollen genitalia.  Women may have leukorrhea with a strong odor.

    The Pulse will be wiry, rapid and forceful and the Tongue will be red with a yellow tongue coating.

    Clear Heat, Clear Heat From The Organs
    Xue Fu Zhu Yu Wan - Blood Stasis Relief Pills - TCM Herbal Formula

    Coming Soon...

    Invigorate the Blood and Dispel Blood Stasis, Invigorate the Blood
    Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao Wan - Ligusticum Tea Pills - TCM Herbal Formula

    Coming Soon...

    Release Wind from the Skin and Channels, Expel Wind
    Ban Xia Bai Zhu Tian Ma Wan - Pinellia, Atractylodis and Gastrodia Combination - TCM Herbal Formula

    Coming Soon...

    Warm and Transform Cold-Phlegm, Treat Phlegm
    Tian Ma Gou Teng Wan - Gastrodia and Uncaria Formula - TCM Herbal Formula

    Coming Soon...

    Extinguish Internal Wind, Expel Wind
    Gan Mao Ling - Miraculous Cold Pills - TCM Herbal Formula

    Coming Soon...

    Clear Heat and Relieve Toxicity, Clear Heat
    Pian Tou Tong Wan - Migraine Pills - TCM Herbal Formula

    Coming Soon...

    Regulate and Harmonize the Liver and Spleen, Harmonize

    Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbs for Headache

    Below you will find Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs relevant to this condition. See our TCM Herbal Database for more details.

    Western Herbs and Headache Medical Information

    Western herbs for Headache

    Below you will find Western herbs relevant to this condition. See our Western Herbal Database for more details.

    Headache - Western Medicine Information

    Below you will find general Western Medicine information relevant to this condition.