Balance energies: How to cure and prevent migraine from Chinese medicine

Conventional drug treatments are not always effective. Understanding the cause of each headache leads to personalized treatments.

Usually a migraine is understood as a strong pain located in a specific part of the head, and not in all of it. The type of pain can be a throbbing sensation (like a heartbeat), an expansive fixed pain , a heaviness that does not allow you to open your eyes, pressure around the head, pain with a feeling of emptiness.

The ancient book of Chinese medicine of the Yellow Emperor refers to migraine as Tou Feng, which means “wind in the head.” The wind was considered one of the most powerful pathogenic factors to disturb the tranquility and harmony of the head. The expression also indicates that “only the wind reaches the top.”

There are various theories and reasons that can explain the headache. For Chinese medicine pain is a sign of blockage. The blockage is the main cause of all the pains and imbalances of a harmonious and healthy body.

Suppose the human body is a tree. The head would be the cup, where the leaves are light and all the solar energy is received. The tree is rooted in the ground, from where it takes the nutrients that are distributed through the trunk and branches.

For Chinese medicine the root is equivalent to the kidney; the trunk, to the liver; the earth, to the spleen; the bark and leaves are the lungs; the innervations and the impulse for the transmission of nutrients are the heart, and the crown of that tree, the head, which gives it its splendor.

The fertile soil provides the root with nourishment and support. The trunk provides the path through which the sap flows. Any failure in one of these parts wilts the color and condition of the tree. Fertile soil cannot be too dry or too muddy. Everything arises from it and, therefore, caring for it is essential for the tree to grow strong and healthy. The bark and leaves can transform the air and the sun into nutrients but without the support of the earth it would be useless.

The head is the center where thoughts and reasoning are governed, a place that consumes a great deal of pure chi (energy) and nourishing blood. Its position – the highest in the body – means that the chi has to make more effort to reach and supply it.

In the head all the yang meridians come together. Yang is a pure and light energy, and only the pure and light can rise to the top. The main yin meridians do not reach the head, although there are “divergent meridians” that, starting from the main ones, plunge into the interior of the body and join the yin and yang meridians. They connect them like this with the head.

It is in this hidden part of the meridian systems that the therapist can diagnose the origins of the imbalance and find suitable remedies to restore the subtle harmony of the body.


There are more women than men with migraine problems, but is there a reason why women have more headaches?

The reality is that yes: women tend to be more emotionally sensitive , therefore more complex in our behavior, and this is reflected in a tremendous wear and tear, energetically speaking , which overtime costs a lot to recover.

A common case is headache due to insufficiency of spleen-stomach chi. the spleen is the “earth” element. Its main function is to generate pure chi and blood from food and transport it to the lung and heart for later supply throughout the body, especially the brain. This organ detests humidity (water). Eating cold and raw food and drinking excess water (which puddles the earth) are the main causes of their weakness.

The emotion associated with the spleen is concern, reflection: if they are excessive, there is wear and tear. Physical and mental fatigue makes the spleen work harder than necessary and jeopardizes well-being.

Migraine can also be the consequence of insufficient blood, which is not the same as anemia since it is due to lack of quality and not quantity. According to Chinese medicine, blood is generated from food and its functions are to nourish and hydrate vital organs and the emotional state.

Another common cause of migraine is the blockage of liver chi, the result of emotions not processed or channeled properly: disgust, anger, frustrations, anger. These are emotions that impede the smooth flow of liver chi. This organ is the storehouse of blood and, when blocked, all the paths are paralyzed causing the blockage of chi and the emptying of the blood.

Chinese medicine believes that emotional factors can endanger well being. According to her there are seven basic emotions: joy, anger, sadness, reflection, worry, fear and fright. These are feelings that arise in the heart and mind and cause a physical reaction, in the form of blockage, stagnation, pain, itching, inflammation, swelling, redness or paleness.


Taking into account the various causes, Chinese medicine offers an effective and individualized remedy. It does not have an “aspirin” nor is there an “acupuncture point” against pain.

Chinese medicine looks for and differentiates the cause of each pain or imbalance and in front of it finds a way to cure it.

Symptoms are like a computer screen: they reflect your programming, and to correct distorted or imperfect images you have to go beyond the screen and not just cover up the signal.


For Chinese medicine, the headache denotes a blockage. The place in the head where the pain is located allows us to distinguish which organs are most affected:

  • The pain in the vertex or upper area corresponds to the Jue Yin type headache (due to the meridian path of the liver).
  • The pain in the forehead responds to a Yang Ming type headache (due to the stomach meridian).
  • Pain in the temples and eyes is of the Shao Yang type (by the gallbladder meridian).
  • Pain and tension in the back of the neck indicates a Tai Yang type (bladder meridian) headache.
  • The pain with a feeling of emptiness in the head is of the Shao Yin type (from the kidney), because the kidney governs the marrow and the brain is the ‘sea of ​​marrow”.


I collect three testimonies from patients who come to my office for suffering from regular – or sporadic – headaches:

A first woman relates: “I am lying in my dark room trying to quiet my head. I feel my heartbeat in my temples and behind my eyes. Each beat is a bomb exploding inside my head.

Today is one of those days that every month my womanhood holds for me. When I was younger, menstruation didn”t bother me: I could play sports, swim, eat whatever I wanted, sleep… Until once I started having a headache.

I didn”t think much of it, I thought it was stress, exam nerves. But it was repeated every month with more force, and no longer only with the period. Now the pain can come from a copious meal, drinking a little alcohol, having a bad night or in times of stress.

Before I knew when I would come and prepare, but now I am lost. Also, the pain relievers and anti-inflammatories hardly work for me anymore. On more than one occasion I have had to be taken to the emergency room to inject a pain reliever intravenously.

I”m desperate. My gynecologist says that it will go away with menopause; by my calculations, that will be twenty years from now. I don”t know if I can last that long. ”

Another woman tells me:

“I have a migraine or headache almost every time I go out to dinner and have a couple of glasses of wine. I wake up at dawn with a very strong stabbing pain in my head, and it doesn”t go away until I vomit.

Then I spend the whole day tired and sore, and with very poor appetite, nausea, and bitterness in my mouth. I don”t go to the bathroom and my belly swells up a lot. However, I don”t drink that much either, just a couple of glasses of wine. I guess I have a dirty stomach and my liver is not working well. ”

In a third case, the migraine has another origin:

“The headache started a few months after giving birth. Until then I had never had a headache. I also get a headache if I”m hungry and not eat: a pain appears on my forehead with a feeling of heaviness, which intensifies until it becomes in a very strong migraine that cancels me.

I can”t think and lose the strength in my legs and arms. I have to lie on the bed, in the dark, and I feel cold. The labor was very long and in the end they had to perform a cesarean section because I did not have the strength to push. It lasted 35 hours and I lost a lot of blood. ”


Sometimes Chinese medicine or natural therapies are criticized for their slowness in obtaining results but, although that is not true in many cases, it is logically slower to correct internal disorders than to apply a Band-Aid. I must say, though, that the body is so perfect that there are times when it just needs a little nudge to get going again.

In the West, it is much more common to treat migraine headaches using acupuncture  than Chinese herbal medicine, but in any case, the two techniques work just as well in restoring the subtle and fragile balance between body and mind.

At the same time, it is very necessary to carry out a change of attitude, of way of life. It is not about leaving everything and starting again, if not quite the opposite: to fully accept current life, prioritize what really matters , intensify motivation, dedicate with all the strength to fulfill what one proposes and put the conscience in recognizing oneself, starting with the physical body.

The brain requires a great deal of energy or chi to function properly. It is the command and direction center of the body, and all the chi and blood generated by the spleen, stomach and lung must rise to the head to nourish it, so a good mechanism of circulation and thrust motor is needed. For this you can:

  • Breathe slowly and deeply, involving up to the lower abdomen and the back of the back. We tend to breathe in more than breathe out, but we must empty our lungs well before filling them.
  • Eating is a conscious act, unlike breathing, and yet we do it without thinking or realizing it. You have to start by regularizing meal times and being aware of what is best for each one, listening to each other and respecting your own needs.
  • Avoid alcoholic and carbonated drinks , especially cold ones , which deplete stomach chi.
  • The diet must be balanced and varied, and take into account the season. According to the theory of the Five Elements, each season corresponds to a flavor and each flavor to a vital organ.
    • In case of migraine due to liver blockage, it is better to opt for green foods with mixed acid, bitter and salty flavors, always of a medium intensity.
    • Those who suffer from migraine due to insufficiency of the spleen have their best allies in warm, somewhat spicy and slightly sweet foods (cereals take care of the spleen and the stomach).
  • In both cases, it is good to eat foods that relax due to their texture, flavor or color, and in an environment that also relaxes.
  • Healthy lifestyle. It is good to do outdoor activities, play sports and listen to music. Also knowing how to keep busy in an activity where you feel free, cross out commitments that are not necessary or helpful, and allow yourself to be authentic.

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