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TRADITIONAL EASTERN MEDICINE
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M.H .Sc (TCM)
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often to take an over the counter painkiller,
such as Nurofen or Paracetemol to alleviate
the symptoms. While the medication ca n
often be effective in a lleviating the pain
on a temporary basis , it doesn’t resolve the
c aus e of the problem, not to mention the side
effects of regular intake of analgesics which
can be quite severe.
In Oriental medicine, we look at the body
from a different perspective. Ea ch orga n is
a ssociated with a specific emotional pattern,
food preference, muscular unbalance, and
disharmony with one of the five sen ses. This
e stablished emotional and physic al map for
each organ is the result of many centuries of
medical practice, and although our lifestyle
has changed a great deal since those ancient
times, it is comforting to rea lise that the
human body and its a ssociated emotion s
have remained the same.
The study of these specific patterns of
disharmony is still one of the foundation s
of the Orienta l practitioner’s training. It
provides an inva luable tool for the successful
diagnosis a nd treatment of many conditions ,
The first concern of the Chinese
medicine practitioner will be the location of
your headaches. Is your pain occurring at the
front of your head or on top of your skull?
Or is it located behind your ears?. Each of
these area s is supplied by a different cha nnel
of energy, so the acupuncture treatment will
only be successf ul if the appropriate pathway
is reg ul ated.
The duration and severity of the pain will
a lso confirm whether the problem is the result
of a pathological attack (like a cold), or from
an internal unbalance of one of the organs.
In each cas e a different treatment approach
w ill be adopted. If your problem is chronic,
which is defined by duration longer than three
months, the liver organ and channel will soon
become our primary suspe ct.
Let me explain why. In Chinese
medicine, the liver is re sponsible for the
harmonious circul ation of the blood
throughout the body. For example, ma ny
menstrual problems are the result of an
imbalance in that channel.
The pathway of the liver channel starts at
the lateral tip of the big toe in the foot. From
there, it travels to the inside of the leg, going
through the reproductive organs, before
making its way to the stomach, the chest
and to the liver organ itself. Then a separate
branch travels to the head, going through the
eyes, to end at the top of the skull.
The loc ation of the pathway of
that channel explains why the liver is
so important in the treatment of ma ny
c onditions , including reproductive a nd
digestive disorders, e ye s and neurologic al
problems such a s he adaches and insomnia .
On the emotiona l side, the liver is
associated with anger, which can be easily be
caused by stress. An imbalance in the liver
can also lead to depression.
We can see clearly the relationship
between the liver and headaches when we
look at the causative factors which include
lack of sleep, specific foods (eg chocol ate),
alcohol, menstruation, oral contraceptives,
a nd emotiona l a nd physical stress.
By correcting the liver’s disharmony
w ith acupunct ure , we will in turn improve
its regulation of the blood. Since there is
a correlation bet we en the liver’s different
functions, the patient will often find that
after a few regular treatments, not only will
their headaches be gone, but their digestion
w ill have improved and their menstrual pain
One needs to be reminded that a sudden
onset of severe headaches can be an early
wa rning sign of a life threatening condition,
which will not be cured with acupuncture ,
so it is always b etter to get yourself checked
by your local doctor first.
Fina lly, establishing a regular short
physic al routine during the day, for example
doing 10 minutes of upper body stretche s to
avoid a build-up of stagnant Qi in the neck
a nd shoulders, can greatly reduce both the
incidence and severity of headaches. Also,
e xercises such a s Qi Gong, s wimming, a nd
physical therapies like Pilates can be very
I have often found that as soon as we take
positive steps to ta ke control of our health
a nd look at controlling the factors which a re
affecting us we begin to make progress. In
the case of headaches it can often make a
world of differenc e.
Olivier Lejus MHSc.BHSc. is a registered
acupuncturist practicing in Sydney.
‘The first concern of the Chinese
medicine practitioner will be the
location of your headaches.’
n last month’s issue, we looked at the
various causes of headaches, and the
different Western forms of treatment
for this condition. In this second article
on the topic , we will exa mine altern ative
therapies, including Traditiona l Chinese
In my clinical experience as an
acupuncturist, I have found this modality to
be very effective in resolving many forms of
headaches, and here I would like to explain
how your condition will be treated using
a medical framework that can be quite
mysterious at times.
Migraine heada che s are c aused by the
expansion of s ome of the arteries supplying
the brain. Many headache sufferers will
be very familiar with the horrible feeling
of having their head being crushed into
a vice. For most of us, the ea sier option is
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Olivier LeJus continues his examination of alternatives
to drug treatment for this common painful condition.
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