Migraine Relief

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!
Acupncture & Chinese Medicine Clinic - Tai ChiMost 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!

Acupuncture & Chinese Medical Clinic - ScreamNot 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!

sunset over lakeThis 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!

Fertility – How Acupuncture can Help

Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine - Mother & Baby HandsInfertility in all its guises has long been an emotive and complicated issue for many couples, and with many couples now deciding to postpone starting a family because of lifestyle and / or financial reasons; infertility has become an increasingly prevalent problem of contemporary society.

There are many physiological reasons for infertility, many of which include Endometriosis, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and Uterine Fibroids, but Hormonal imbalances, which can include elevated FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) or Prolactin levels can account for a huge proportion of a woman’s inability to conceive, as can Anovulation (failure to ovulate) and irregular menstruation. However, there are many unexplained reasons for infertility also, which may have stress, diet and lifestyle influences as a portion of the causative factor.

The male role in this cannot be underestimated either. Good quality and quantity of sperm with adequate motility is essential also for conception to occur.

How can Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine enhance fertility?

Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine - Ying & YangChinese Medicine has been treating infertility for over two and a half thousand years, and its effectiveness cannot be underestimated. Its main function is to bring the body back into balance in every way, harmonising Yin, Yang, Qi and Blood and because of this it can therefore:

  • Normalise hormonal imbalances
  • Regulate menstruation
  • Increase blood flow to the uterus and increase uterine thickness
  • Diminish chances of miscarriage
  • Improve sperm count, motility and morphology
  • Reduce stress and anxiety.

Many couples are now also choosing to use acupuncture as an adjunct to IVF fertility treatment. Recent research has been published to demonstrate the role of acupuncture in helping to increase success rates of IVF around the time of embryo transfer. The research, which was published in the British Medical Journal of 7/2/08, states…”acupuncture increased the odds of clinical pregnancy by 65% compared to the control groups”.

How can Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine help with IVF and ICSI?

  • Improves the function of the ovaries to produce better quality eggs
  • Helps to regulate hormone levels to help produce a larger number of follicles
  • Increases blood flow to the uterus which in turn creates a thicker uterine lining which enhances the likelihood of implantation of the embryo
  • Relaxes the uterus during implantation to minimise painful cramping
  • Decreases the side effects of the drugs used in IVF, e.g., emotional instability, insomnia, palpitations, headaches etc.,

It is always advisable though not essential, for preparation with acupuncture to begin 3 months prior to commencement of IVF. In this way, the optimum environment for implantation can be naturally achieved. The treatment method will vary according to the patient’s individual diagnosis and degree of infertility, but it is not unheard of, for the lady to become pregnant naturally in this time!