Article written by Mairead Fahy which appeared in ECHO newspaper March 2007
Question… when is a headache not a headache?
Answer………when it’s a migraine!
Most of us at one time or another… has suffered a headache! It may be the result of a nagging wife, hot-headed husband, fractious children or cantankerous boss…. and all the associated stresses and strains that go along with them! We women… subject to hormonal influences as we are… may get them whenever it suits us!
It may be an excuse… it may be genuine…but until you know differently…it’s a headache guys! It may even be the result of a “bad pint” for all you guys and gals out there who indulge… but of course…never the result of the nine good pints …AND THEN SOME… that went along with that! (That’s dehydration by the way… but that’s another story for another day)!
Anyway… the point is.. that for most of us… the headache eventually goes! Two Panadol, a hot shower, a change of scene and some peace and quiet ..(and lots of water!)…and your life continues as normal!
Not so however for the poor Migraine sufferer! What may start as a mere headache for them inevitably develops into an insufferable debilitating pain which may last for two days or more.. despite medication! Add to that.the symptoms of nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, and life becomes intolerable for the victim of a Migraine attack! Work, home and family life all suffers!
Sometimes the only thing that will help (not relieve) the pain is to lie down in a dark room and try to sleep… not always possible however! And worse than this…. It could happen more than once a week! And – it doesn’t even end there….when the pain eventually goes.. the migraine victim is left with a dull heavy head similar to a hangover…but the problem is… they haven’t actually enjoyed the getting of it!
Ok… so what can be done? Conventional medicine will tell you … nothing! Your GP will prescribe medication and may even have to give an injection … and hopefully this will minimise the pain. However … this may or may not work! So when all conventional avenues for pain relief have been exhausted … look to the East … and to acupuncture!
What makes Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) different in so many ways to conventional or Western medicine.. is that it looks to the CAUSE of the problem… not just the symptoms! And again … because we are dealing with such an ancient system of medicine… a diagnosis for the CAUSE … may tend to sound a bit abstract… almost nonsensical to those of you grounded in the theories of the West! In the case of Migraine… the CAUSE is determined by the theories upon which all of life and nature is based…. The theories of Yin and Yang!
Ok I hear you say … That’s Chinese stuff… and indeed it is! But let me explain a little about Yin and Yang! Not only are they good names for dogs and cats… The Yin and Yang theory of opposites, despite being a concept more than three thousand years old, is actually the principle upon which all modern Physics is founded! Everything whether material or abstract has an opposite. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t exist! Confused yet?
More than two thousand years ago, the Chinese philosopher Lao Tse used a cup to demonstrate the principle… the material of the cup was Yang, the inside of it Yin. Although there was nothing inside the cup but space, – if the space wasn’t there… it would have no use as a cup!
The original meanings of Yin and Yang, referred to the sunny and shaded sides of a hill, Yang being the sunny side and Yin being the shady side. Also, because in Ancient China, men worked in the fields and in the sun, and women worked indoors and in the shade… the terms also came to mean Male and Female!
However… apart from being a theory of opposites… it also encompasses the theory of co – dependence for a harmonious life!
This means for example, Daytime MUST flow into Night time and vice versa (Yang into Yin), otherwise natural law would be affected. Hot must have its opposite cold – and not a dominance of one over the other but a balance between the two, otherwise again, natural law is interrupted. Likewise Man MUST have Woman. Apologies to all you feminists out there… but again, it is natural law!
The Yin Yang theory can even explain why men are from Mars and women are from Venus! Basically…Yin and Yang nurture each other and depend on each other!
So what has this got to do with a Migraine attack? Well, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine most organs of the body also have a Yin and Yang aspect to them… and when this goes out of balance due to stress, diet and numerous other factors, pain can be the result.
In the case of Migraine, – it is the Yang energy of the Liver organ, which goes into excess and rises to the head causing pain! This does NOT mean however that there is something functionally wrong with your Liver…no need to go racing off to your GP saying … “that Acupuncturist down the road says there’s something wrong with my liver”… no I’m talking purely from a Chinese Medicine perspective!
It is the excess of Yang in the head which causes the pain… and it is this which over time the acupuncturist can bring back into balance and allow it to become “anchored” once more by the Yin.
Quite often acupuncture can relieve an ongoing Migraine attack… and it will certainly minimise the frequency and intensity of subsequent ones!
So for all you Migraine sufferers…there is hope!