Condition Treated / Pain Conditions





Headaches can be seen clinically in many acute and chronic diseases. All kinds of pathogenic
factors or interior injuries may cause disorders in the channels of the head, leading to disharmony of the qi and blood. Obstruction of collaterals or malnutrition of the brain may result in a headache. This disease is frequently seen in hypertension, vascular headache, encephalitis, meningitis, acute cerebrovascular diseases and glaucoma.

Causes and Pathogenesis of the Disease

The causes of headaches can be classified into external contraction and internal injury. Wind is
the chief pathogenic factor of a headache due to external contraction. Pathogenic factors such as
wind-cold, wind-dampness, and wind-heat may invade the head, and block the channels and
collaterals, resulting in a headache.

Headaches due to internal injury are mainly caused by emotional disturbance, improper food intake, weak constitution, or prolonged diseases. Emotional depression may lead to failure of the liver to
maintain the free flow of qi, and as a result, the hyperactive liver-yang may disturb the clear orifices; also, a deficiency of kidney-yin, weak constitution, and insufficiency of qi and blood may cause the brain to be malnourished; or the preference for fatty and sweet foods may produce phlegm and dampness in the body, causing obstruction of the brain collaterals; or falling down and external injury may cause qi stagnation and blood stasis, resulting in the blockage of brain collaterals. Headaches caused by all these factors are the result of internal injury.

Identification of Patterns

(1) Headaches due to external contraction
Chief symptoms Persistent headache radiating to the neck and back; sudden onset. It may be accqmpanied by exterior symptoms caused by external pathogenic factors. The pattern of a headache caused by wind-cold may be accompanied by aversion to wind and cold, absence of thirst, a thin white tongue coating and a floating and tight pulse. The pattern of headache caused by wind-heat may be accompanied by a distending sensation in the head, fever, thirst with a preference to drink, constipation, dark yellow urine, a yellow tongue coating and a floating, rapid pulse. The pattern of headache caused by wind-dampness may be accompanied by a heavy sensation in the head as if wrapped up, lassitude and heaviness of the limbs, a white greasy
tongue coating and a soggy pulse.
(2) Headache due to internal injury
Chief symptoms Lingering and intermittent headache with a slow paroxysm. It is often
accompanied by vertigo, and may be provoked or aggravated by exertion or emotional stimulation.
The pattern of hyperactivity of the liver-yang may be accompanied by a distending sensation in the
head, blurred vision, restlessness and irritability, flushed complexion, red eyes, a bitter taste
in the mouth, red tongue with a thin yellow coating and a wiry pulse. The pattern of liver-kidney
yin deficiency may be accompanied by vertigo, tinnitus, soreness and weakness in the loins and
knees, seminal emission, red tongue with a thin coating and a wiry, thready pulse. The pattern of
qi and blood deficiency may be accompanied by a headache with a void sensation, vertigo, lassitude, lusterless complexion, aggravation by exertion, light-colored tongue with a white coating and a thready, weak pulse. The pattern of phlegm-turbidity may be accompanied by a hazy dizziness in the head, oppression in the chest and abdomen, a white greasy tongue coating and a slippery pulse. The pattern of collateral obstruction with blood stasis may be accompanied by a fixed pricking pain, a dark and purplish tongue with petechia with a thin coating, and a thready, rough pulse. In addition, headaches can be diagnosed with channel identification. Pain of the yangming headache appears in the forehead, shaoyang headache on the lateral side of the head,
taiyang headache in the occipital region, and a jueyin headache at the apex of the head.


(1) Primary Acupuncture treatment
Headache due to external contraction

Principal points Baihui (GV 20), Taiyang (EX-HN5), Fengchi (GB 20), Lieque (LU 7) and Ashi-point.
Supplementary points Add Fengmen (BL 12) to the pattern of a headache caused by wind-cold; add Quchi (LI 11) and Dazhui (GV 14) to the pattern of a headache caused by wind-heat; and add
Yinlingquan (SP 9) to the pattern of a headache caused by wind­ dampness. Explanation Baihui (GV 20) and Taiyang (EX-HN5) are selected to smooth and dredge channel-qi out ofthe head. Fengchi (GB 20) is a Crossing Point offoot-shaoyang and Yang Link Vessel, functioning in ispelling wind and promoting blood circulation, and in dredging collaterals to relieve pain. Lieque (LU 7), the Luo-Connecting Point of the lung channel, is used to disperse the inhibited lung-qi to remove the exterior pathogenic factors, and to dispel wind and dredge collaterals. Ashi-points are selected to relieve pain by dredging local channels and collaterals.

Headache due to internal injury

Principal points Baihui (GV 20), Touwei (ST 8), Fengchi (GB 20), Zusanli (ST 36) and Ashi-point. Supplementary points Add Taichong (LR 3) and Taixi (KI 3) to the pattern of hyperactivity of the liver-yang; add Fenglong (ST 40) and Yinlingquan (SP 9) to the pattern of a headache caused by turbid phlegm; add Sanyinjiao (SP 6) and Geshu (BL 17) to the pattern of a headache caused by blood stasis; add Xuehai (SP 10) and Pishu (BL 20) to the pattern of a headache caused by blood deficiency; and add Mingmen (GV 4) and Shenshu (BL 23) to the pattern of a headache caused by kidney deficiency. Explanation Baihui (GV 20) is selected to nourish the brain and morrow by smoothing and regulating the circulation of qi and blood. Touwei (ST 8) is used to dredge the channel on the head. Fengchi (GB 20) is used to promote blood circulation and dredge channels, to clear the head and brighten the eyes, and to harmonize qi and blood. Zusanli (ST 36) is utilized to supplement qi and blood and to nourish the brain and marrow. Ashi­ points are used to relieve pain by dredging local channels. In addition, in case of a headache along yangming channels, add Touwei (ST 8) and Hegu (LI 4); in case of a headache along shaoyang channels, add Shuaigu (GB 8) and Waiguan (TE 5); in case of a headache along taiyang channels, add Tianzhu (BL 10) and Houxi (SI 3); in case of a headache alongjueyin channels, add Sishencong (EX-HNl) and Taichong (LR 3).

(2) Alternate methods of acupuncture treatment
Auricular acupuncture Select Subcortex (AT 4), Occiput (AT 3), Temple (AT 2), Forehead (AT 1),
Brain and Shenmen (TF 4). At least 2-3 points are selected each time and punctured by needles. It
is also applicable to embed needles or stick wang bu liu xing (Semen Vaccariae) on the selected
points. In case of a persistent headache, pricking the posterior auricular veins for bloodletting
is advisable.
Skin needle therapy Tap Taiyang (EX-HN5), Yintang (EX-HN3) and Ashi-points with a skin needle
for 5 to 10 minutes each time. A small amount of bloodletting is advisable. It is suitable for
headaches due to external contraction.

(3)Commonly-used patent Chinese herbal products:

1. Da Chuan Xiong Kou Fu Ye Actions: Circulates the blood, resolves stasis, soothes the liver
and stops wind. Indications: Headache due to blood stasis.
2. Zheng Tian Wan Actions: Stops wind, circulates the blood, nourishes the blood and soothes the
liver. Indications: Headache due to blood stasis and hyperactivity of liver­ yang.
3. Zhen Nao Ning Jiao Nang Actions: Stops wind and clears the meridians.
Indications: Headache due to hyperactivity of liver-yang.

Life style recommendations

1. Keep regular life style and mental fitness and avoid cold;
2. Regulate dietary habit by not taking too much greasy, sweet and spicy food, stop cigarette
smoking and alcohol drinking and avoid overexertion and sexual indulgence;
3. Balance work and rest and do appropriate physical exercises to strengthen the
body constitution and be physically fit.


Headache can be caused by many factors. However, external contraction and internal injury, and
deficiency and excess should be distinguished first. Generally the external contraction-related
headache is mostly caused by wind, the head among all the six exogenous pathogenic factors and
always mixes with cold, heat and dampness.

The internal injury-related headache can be deficiency or excess. Deficient syndromes are caused by deficiency of qi, blood, the liver and kidney. Excessive syndromes are caused by phlegm-turbidity and stagnant blood. The treatment principle is to supplement the anti-pathogenic qi and remove pathogenic factors respectively. For the mixed deficiency and excess, acute or remission stages, deficiency of anti-pathogenic qi or excess of pathogenic factors should be differentiated first.

Acupuncture is effective for treating headaches. However, the causes of headaches are
complicated, and if a headache doesn't improve or even deteriorate after acupuncture
treatment, other diseases in the skull should be considered. Comprehensive treatments
must be implemented when the true causes are detected.
If the pupils are a different size bilaterally, unconsciousness and a stiff neck are present,
critical diseases such as encephaloma and subarachnoid hemorrhage should on the differential
list. Hypertension cases must be managed carefully and accordingly.
During treatment, patients with a headache should quit smoking and drinking alcohol. Rest and
proper physical exercises are advised. Exertion and emotional stress must be avoided.

Pain Care Acupuncture Clinic is your local acupuncture office in Torrance, CA . specializing in treating injuries and chronic pain. Dr. Ming Chen and Dr. Lu Yang, Both acupuncturists who also the oriental medical doctor ( O.M.D. ) can pinpoint the cause of the injury and suggest the best treatment methods for you. You need our doctor to listen to the whole story and examine you, so that you can get started treating on your injuries or chronic pain and get you on the track toward recovery.

Call now for a free health consultation !


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21320 Howthorne Blvd., Suite 203 Torrance, CA 90503