Headaches according to Traditional Chinese Medicine - an excerpt from my book "Acupressure for Common Ailments".
HEADACHES: According to Chinese medicine, there are many different reasons for a headache, including emotions like anger and fear, physical overwork, incorrect diet and excessive sex, or climatic conditions like Wind and Dampness.
Many different meridians travel to the head. The Bladder meridian starts between the eyes and travels over the head and down the spine. The Gall Bladder meridian starts beside the eye and the Stomach meridian starts below the eye. The Triple Burner meridian ends beside the eyebrow. The Large Intestine travels across the jaw and ends beside the nose. Internally the Liver and Heart meridians travel to the eyes. The site of the headache gives an indication of which meridian may be the cause of the problem.
A headache on the forehead is usually related to the Stomach and Large Intestine meridians. This type of headache has a heavy muzzy sensation because it is often caused by retention of Dampness or Phlegm.
Points to relieve this type of headache are:
Du 20, 23, St 8 & GB 14 on the head,
LI 4 on the hand, P6 on the inside of the wrist, and Lu7
Sp 6 and St 36 on the leg,
GV 20, GV 23, St 8 & GB 14 on the head
GV 20 is the meeting point of the Governing Vessel, the Bladder, Gall Bladder, Triple Burner and Liver meridians. It benefits the Brain and sense organs and aids with headaches.
GV 23 is used for congestion and blurred vision.
St 8 removes obstructions from the channel, stops pain and resolves Dampness.
GB 14 is the meeting point of the Gall Bladder, Triple Burner, Stomach and Large Intestine meridians. Used for headaches, dizziness and some eye problems
LI 4 removes obstructions from the channel, relieves congestion in the face and relieves pain.
Avoid LI 4 during pregnancy.
Sp 6 and St 36 on the leg as well as Liv 3 on the top of the foot.
St 36 is a major point to tonify the Stomach, it moves Qi in the Stomach and Intestines
Sp 6 is a major point to tonify the Spleen and together with St 36 strongly tonifies the Middle Burner, the area comprising the stomach and spleen.
Liv 3 is another major point to subdue Liver-Yang and nourish Liver-Blood. It calms spasms, contraction and muscle cramps. It has a very calming effect on the Mind and is helpful with irritability, frustration and anger.
I had eczema on the outer thenar section (the fleshy part between the joint and the wrist) of my thumb for over a year, then it moved to the other side as well. Why on earth have eczema just there?
I visited my friend for a SCIO session and her machine informed me that I had a gluten sensitivity. As soon as I stopped eating so much gluten, the eczema cleared up. I have a sensitivity, not an actual allergy but as soon as I do eat, say, a slice of bread and a biscuit, there is a slight tingling in this region.
The meridians are energy pathways which flow in a continual loop up and down the body but are divided into 12 main sections and named after our abdominal organs.
The energy is most vital at the fingertips and toes which is the first or last point of the meridian and is known as a Well point. The energy gradually gathers in flow and depth through four following points called the Spring point, Stream point, River point and finally Sea point which is situated at the elbows or knees. At the Sea point, the energy is vast and deep and moves into the interior of the body.
On the Yin meridians and according to the Five Elements, the Well points pertain to Wood, the Spring points pertain to Fire, the Stream points pertain to Earth, the River points pertain to Metal and the Sea points pertain to Water. On the Yang meridians the Well points pertain to Metal and so forth.
The Spring points are used to treat Heat conditions and to clear Heat from the meridians. Liv 2 is great to disperse Liver-Yang so helps with headaches and red itchy eyes.
The Lung meridian runs from just below the clavicle, up over it then down the arm ending in the thumb beside the nail. My eczema occurred around Lu 10 which is the 10th point along the meridian and the second last one before the end, i.e. the Spring point.
But why there?The way I understand it is as follows: due to emotional issues, huge sensitivity to cigarette smoke and the Fynbos around where I live, my lungs are my weakest organ. The skin and lungs are closely connected both in western and Chinese medicine. In TCM the skin is under the control of the Lungs which keep it moist and which also disperses our Defensive Qi in the area between skin and muscle,
Gluten creates inflammation in my system, known in Chinese medicine as Damp-Heat. Eczema is also a form of Damp-Heat.
Because the rest of me is pretty healthy, the Damp-Heat manifested in an area of weakness – the Lung meridian on the Fire/Spring point.
Fortunately, I’ve discovered heaps of easy gluten free muffin recipes, so I really can have my cake and eat it.
I Did Shiatsu Treatments Based on TCM to Help Two Young Women fall Pregnant. (All thanks to Giovanni Maciocia and his wonderful books)
Both ladies hadn’t been able to fall pregnant for about a year and the doctors said that there was no specific reason. I investigated possible treatments according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
The menstrual cycle in Western medicine is largely composed of two main phases; the follicular phase and the luteal phase.
In the follicular phase, increasing amounts of oestrogen cause the uterus lining to thicken and follicles in the ovary begin to develop. After several days, a dominant follicle releases an egg which is carried along the Fallopian tubes to the uterus. This is the ovulation period.
The second, or luteal, phase is dominated by progesterone. The follicle which housed the egg becomes the corpus luteum and produces progesterone. If the egg is not fertilized and implanted, the corpus luteum shrivels and dies causing sharp drops in both progesterone and oestrogen. These hormone drops cause the uterus to shed its lining and menstruation begins.
Traditional Chinese Medicine sees the menstrual cycle in four phases.
Starting at menstruation, the flow of menstrual blood is under the control of Liver-Blood and the Penetrating Vessel.
The follicular phase is when various hormones stimulate the development of the ova and the uterus develops a new layer of endometrium. In TCM, this is seen to be influenced by Liver-Blood, the Kidneys and the Conception Vessel.
During the ovulation period, hormones mature the egg and weaken the walls of the follicle allowing the fully developed egg to be released into the Fallopian tubes. Fertilization by sperm usually occurs in the widest part of the Fallopian tubes. This phase is influenced by Kidney-Yin and Kidney-Yang, and the Conception and Penetrating Vessels.
The Luteal phase is the period between ovulation and the onset of menstruation and lasts about 14 days. The corpus luteum is producing progesterone in preparation for pregnancy. This period must be at least 10 days long in order to support pregnancy. From a Chinese point of view, this period should be subdivided into two parts; the first part, where temperature rises after ovulation, is influenced by Minister Fire of the Heart, Kidney-Yang and the Governing Vessel. The second part is under the control of Liver-Qi and Liver-Blood whose movement is essential to move Blood in preparation for the period, and the Penetrating Vessel.
PHASE INFLUENCING ENERGY TREATMENT PROTOCOL
1) Menstruation phase Penetrating Vessel Invigorate and move Blood
2) Follicular phase Conception Vessel, Kidney-Yin Nourish Blood and tonify Kidneys
3) Luteal Phase A Conception and Governing Vessels, Tonify the Kidneys, strengthen the
Kidney-Yin and Kidney-Yang Governing, Conception and Penetrating
Vessels, if necessary, resolve
Dampness and tonify the Spleen
4) Luteal Phase B Penetrating Vessel Move Qi, invigorate Blood, warm the
Uterus, if necessary, expel Cold
and resolve Damp-Phlegm
My Shiatsu treatment protocol was as follows:
During menstruation Day 1 – 5 Blood is moving which relies on Liver-Qi and Liver-Blood
If too little Blood – Move Blood
P6, Sp6, Sp10, UB23, UB24, K3, K5, CV4,CV5
If too much Blood – stop bleeding
GV20, CV6, LI11, Sp6, Sp8, Sp10, Liv1, Liv2
After menstruation Day 6 – 14 Kidney phase Blood and Yin and empty
Lu7, Sp6, Sp10, UB23, UB24, K3, K6, Liv3, Liv8
Mid cycle Blood and Yin gradually fill up the Penetrating and
St25, St28, St29, St30, Sp6, Liv3, Liv8, UB23, UB24, K3
Day 14 – 28 Sp4, Sp6, GB34, GB41, Liv8, UB23, UB24, K3
Before menstruation Yang rises to prepare to move Blood. Liver-Qi moves in preparation
to move Blood
Sp6, UB23, UB24, K3, K5, K6
The treatment included a typical shiatsu massage, tracing of the meridians and the specific and concentrated working of the applicable pressure points. Treatments were an hour long once a week. In the first instance, the lady fell pregnant within 4 weeks, in the second instance, within 6 weeks. Both delivered healthy girls.
Are you one of those people who carry your tension in your shoulders? I am, and it speaks volumes about who we are.
In Applied Kinesiology and Meridian Diagnostics, the upper trapezius muscle is related to the kidneys. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the negative emotion of the Kidneys is fear. What this means, in reality, is that people whose shoulders are super tight are people who don’t easily delegate. They don’t trust others to do the job properly and feel that they need to do everything themselves. They “fear” that the job won’t be done properly, and they literally carry the world on their shoulders. I tend to rewash the dishes after my husband has done them, it takes every ounce of my strength to not do them! To be honest though, they usually do need to be redone anyway.
In a stressful situation, other than the issue of the dishes, this becomes an area of weakness, so stress will tend to manifest here. We all have our areas of the body where we manifest our stress. A lady came for a massage once stating how stressed she was yet her back and shoulders were soft and malleable. She carried her stress in her stomach and had digestive problems.
So, how do we live with this feeling of burden? I think that accepting the idea that we believe we need to do everything ourselves is a start; we can begin to question some of our decisions.
Breath helps to release tension beautifully. Breathe in four to five times to the point where you’re almost taking a deep breath, but not quite, then breathe out. By the forth breath, when you feel that you really need to take that deep breath, you’ll feel that your muscles begin to relax. This has something to do with carbon dioxide being a natural muscle relaxant. This is why people who are hyperventilating are given a paper bag to breathe in and out of.
An effective by painful way to release tension is to squeeze the muscle. My daughter grabs the top of my shoulders, squeezes and shakes the muscle then releases it quickly. It’s not pleasant but the effects afterwards are good.
Massaging the shoulders properly is different to sliding fingers over the skin, although this can feel quite nice. One needs to press the thumbs into the skin then rotate them around the muscle.
My all-time favourite point, though, is GB 21. This is the twenty first point on the gallbladder meridian and is situated right in the middle of the meat on both shoulders. After warming up the area through massage and rubbing, the thumbs are pressed into GB 21 for four breaths. On the final out-breath the hands are removed, and the shoulders pressed down and out. Pressing this point has a strong downward energy and can make a person feel a little light headed afterwards but the relief felt in the shoulders is worth it.
A vital consideration is that the point must be pressed with pressure and not with force. Force is painful whereas pressure feels pleasant. I often lean into this point with my elbows.
I’ll probably still need to redo the dishes but I’m going to try to not let the opposite to doing them weigh on me any longer.
I was introduced to nutrition as a small child when my mom used it to treat an ulcer. Since then I've been interested in supplements, healthy eating, reflexology, shiatsu, energy work and Traditional Chinese Medicine.