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Acupuncture for Migraines: Severe migraine pain on the top of the head or a feeling of a tight band

Acupuncture for Migraines: Severe migraine pain on the top of the head or a feeling of a tight band around the head

by Grace Ganel L.Ac., Dipl.Ac., C.Z.B.


Many people with migraines experience severe pain right on the top of their head. During this presentation, patients may also experience nausea, vomiting, and chills including particularly cold hands and feet.

Patients who experience migraines like a tight band around the head also usually report a heavy sensation in the head and limbs. Related symptoms include headache, dizziness, and chest discomfort. Usually, patients with this pattern also experience fatigue, poor appetite, nausea, and sometimes vomiting.


These two presentations have somewhat similar roots according to Chinese medical theory. In the case of the migraine on top of the head, the channels we talked about in the last two blog posts have an acute imbalance, and in turn the imbalance has now extended to another channel in the body: Spleen. Chinese medicine is holistic, and considers all aspects of the body, mind, and spirit to be interrelated. When one channel goes out of balance, it disrupts the entire system and tends to put stress on other channels, too. When there is a migraine like a band around the head, this also points to an imbalance in the Spleen channel.

Why do these symptoms develop?

So what is the Spleen channel and what does it do? This channel is somewhat oddly translated from Chinese as Spleen, because the functions of the Spleen channel include the functions of the Pancreas organ – remember again that the channels represent a completely different theory from the Western organs, because Chinese medicine is its own unique and complete system of medicine!

Ultimately, the Spleen channel plays an important role in digestion. It ensures that the foods we eat get transformed into our tissues and into energy. It is said to be injured by the emotion of worry. Overthinking, worrying, and overeating or eating foods that are difficult to digest tend to injure this channel.

When the Spleen channel is not working well, a condition known as Dampness can develop. Basically, due to weakness or other factors, rather than turning our foods into our body tissues and into energy, the Spleen is unable to complete the transformation process, and we are left with a substance that we cannot use readily. Dampness can present as any manner of things, ranging from excessive nasal or vaginal mucus to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even edema (puffiness and heaviness in the ankles, belly, or even the face). In the case of these migraine disorders, the dampness is raised to the head and presents as a heavy and painful head).

Since we are unable to turn our food into good energy during such a condition, there may be fatigue and a feeling of cold. In order to maintain homeostasis, which includes a comfortable body temperature, we need to have enough energy. This lack of energy (Qi) can present as coldness, as in the case of the severe pain on top of the head.

How do you prevent these symptoms from developing?

As in the last couple of blog posts, we must ensure that the Liver channel is not injured because when the Liver channel is not well, it tends to reflect poorly on the Spleen channel, too. Additionally, there are lots of things we can do to help our Spleen channel to be as healthy as possible.