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Seattle Acupuncture – Migraines

In the last few years I have seen an increase of patients coming in seeking help with migraine pain. Migraines have become a more common ailment then ever before which makes me wonder what is causing this to happen. I have a few theories and approaches that I use in my practice which tend to have great results depending on how much the client is willing to change their lifestyle. Acupuncture is a wonderful and very effective modality to help get rid of migraines and avoid all the harsh migraine medication that doctors tend to prescribe. In my practice, migraines are a result of a few things, unmanaged physical and emotional stress and how the client is dealing with it, food allergies or diet, and too much time spent in front of a computer screen. Stress is the main culprit that I see, the others are not as commonly the cause but still are worth evaluating. Everyone deals with physical and emotional stress differently. In Chinese medicine we categorize people in 5 ways based on the 5 element theory which is a great example of how there is variety with how stress enters and, hopefully, leaves the body. There is typically one group of people, wood (liver) constitutions, that are prone to getting migraines the most. These people, typically, power through stress which means they tense their body, harden up and push through stressful times until it passes. This is a great survival strategy but unfortunately it causes them to have more migraines more often. When you tighten up and power through stress you enter into a state of control and resistance internally. So much of what you are controlling is the feelings and thoughts that move through your body in these stressful moments, the thoughts that dont feel good like fear or anxiety or doubt. This adds a lot of tension to the upper part of the body including the neck, shoulders and head and stops the natural flow of energy (the Qi) that exist throughout our entire body. Due to this style of processing stress liver people are prone to Liver Qi Stagnation which is how Chinese medicine diagnosis stress impacting the body. This will eventually lead to a full body stagnation that we diagnosis as Qi and Blood Stagnation which is our way of classifying body pain including migraines. Other symptoms of Liver Qi Stagnation include anxiety, depression, painful pms cramping, headaches, rib pain and neck pain. The beauty of acupuncture is that its very good at moving stuck energy and blood and therefore getting rid of pain. My approach includes breaking up stagnation in the entire body through cupping and then placing needles in points that are powerful movers. Migraines and other liver symptoms will sometimes instantly be better or for others it can take a few rounds of treatment. I also recommend clients to get proper emotional support so they can learn how to process stress better and not continue to hurt themselves. I offer mindful based coaching here in the office or I help clients find therapists that fit well for them. Not everyone is willing to do the emotional side of curing migraines but the ones who are always feel better for much longer. Emotional tools, once you learn them, are sustainable tools that you can have for the rest of your life and they tend to make life better overall.

Diet and food related issues are another concern in relation to migraines. Typically food causes migraines if either the client is allergic to a food they are eating or if they are not getting enough nutrients into the body. There are many ways of figuring out which food someone is allergic too. Personally, I love an elimination diet the best, where you remove a whole category of food (like dairy) for two weeks and then bring it back for a few meals in a row. Typically, someone either feels fine or feels terrible once the food is brought back into the diet and then you know this food is a problem. In regards to not getting enough nutrients, I most commonly see this with vegans or vegetarians who are not eating well or who arent meant to sustain that life choice. I recommend clients taking high quality vitamins in order to boost nutrient supply and then check to see who is willing to add in foods they arent eating like dark leafy greens or meat. If migraines pain is triggered by food, it typically isnt hard to fix as long as someone is willing to evaluate their diet and change it.

And last, in regards to computer screens, I dont think there is much to say beyond what is obvious; we spend way too much time in front of screens and this isnt good for our eyes or for some, their migraines. This clearly requires a lifestyle change as well and people feel better once they reduce their screen time.
For more information about how acupuncture and coaching can help with migraines or anything else for that matter, please dont hesitate to reach out – visit the contact us page today.

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Ben is someone who I believe is approaching his patients from his heart because he interacts with me as an equal, not as a person with a certain disease.

I have seen Ben for 4 months now, and acupuncture (with Chinese herbs) has become a regular routine for my health. "


~GW, Everett, Wa

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