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3 Ways to Naturally Manage Migraine Headaches

Did you know that acupuncture has been proven to help with headaches and migraines? More often than not headaches will dissipate on their own, or can be cleared up quickly using over-the-counter pain medication; But for nearly 37 million Americans who suffer from migraines, the pain is complex and chronic. Migraines tend to run in families. About 90% of migraine sufferers have a family history of migraines. Migraines are complicated, and more than a passing headache. What differentiates a migraine from a headache are the vast array of accompanying symptoms. These symptoms include visual disturbances or “auras” prior to onset, increased sensitivity to light, nausea, and vomiting, and even speech and functional disturbances. For some, the pain can become so intense their lives get put on hold. Science still struggles to explain what causes migraines which makes it virtually impossible to find a simple “cure” that works for everyone.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM), the goal is to get to the root of the migraine, not simply manage the symptoms. Blood deficiency, which is a type of anemia, is a common cause for migraines resulting from a lack of blood nourishment to the head. Blood stagnation can also be a factor. After running the proper set of diagnostic tests, a TCM practitioner can address the correct cause(s) for the pain. A medical practitioner could then apply acupuncture and offer herbs, as well as massage therapy and other complementary treatments to facilitate blood flow and alleviate pain.

What can I do at home?

Along with in-office therapies, eating a balanced diet, exercising, and practicing some acupressure self-care can be very beneficial.


Acupuncture is part of the TCM system that has been around for thousands of years. However, it was only in the 1970’s that acupuncture officially made an appearance in Western medicine. Acupressure is an adaptation of acupuncture, just without the needles. Similar to acupuncture, acupressure uses specific points to balance energy within the body. When somebody is suffering from a migraine, all the energy rushes to their head. By stimulating or applying pressure to points lower on the body the energy can then be drawn downward and reduced, quickly decreasing the intensity of the migraine. Acupuncture also helps with the treatment of other symptoms frequently associated with migraines.


Diet plays such an important role in our lives. It is even more important to pay attention to what is being eaten for those who suffer from migraines. Gluten sensitivities can be a trigger for pain. Gluten is a component found in wheat and is known to increase inflammation in the body. Studies show many migraine sufferers have a deficiency in both magnesium and B vitamins. Magnesium blocks pain-transmitting chemicals in the brain, while B vitamins help decrease oxidative stress in the body that can lead to chronic pain and inflammation. Some foods have been shown to help migraines. Adding coffee, B3 (niacin, found in the liver), magnesium, potassium, calcium, spicy foods, ginger, and watery foods into your diet can be beneficial. A common herb for migraines is the magnolia flower. Others include lavender, peppermint, feverfew, and basil.


Everybody knows exercise is good for the body, but for people with chronic pain, it is even more important. Exercise gets the blood pumping and increases oxygenation to the tissues, which are important for relieving pain and inflammation. Just sitting at a desk and working on a computer all day adds an additional 20 to 30 pounds of pressure to our necks! This can create stress and tension on the muscles and tendons in the neck and shoulder area, contributing to migraine pain and frequency. Studies show migraines and other chronic pain levels can be significantly reduced by doing 20 minutes of daily stretching.

If you are one of the 37 million Americans who suffer from migraines, you’re not alone. The silver lining is there are natural cures out there that can help you get your life back. Schedule your acupuncture tune-up in Duluth to get back on track to wellness.

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