Can acupuncture help relieve your headache?

Many people suffer from headaches, and all-encompassing terms which can mean different things to different people. But can acupuncture help relieve your headache?

An acupuncturist would want lots of information about your headache so they can make a Chinese medicine diagnosis and then choose the correct acupuncture points for you. So the sort of questions they may ask include:

  • What time of day is it worse?
  • Does it get better when you move around?
  • What is the nature of the pain? Is it dull, heavy, stabbing, boring?
  • Where is the pain? On your temples, forehead, behind the eyes?
  • Is it better or worse after eating?
  • Is there anything that eases it?

Types of headaches

A headache that is worse in the morning but improves when you get up and start moving around is likely to be due to damp and your digestion may be playing a part. A headache that is better when you lie down could be a deficiency headache so an acupuncturist would be looking to improve the flow of Qi and blood in your body. A headache that starts with a stiff neck and is worse with stress is likely to involve the liver channel and be an imbalance of Yin and Yang. This is just a brief example; there are other types of headaches as well as migraines which are more debilitating.


The location of your headache and a description of the pain are also important. If it’s at the temples it’s a liver channel issue; at the top of the head is likely to be a deficiency of some kind, on the forehead it may be related to the stomach channel. A dull heavy headache will have a different Chinese Medicine diagnosis to a stabbing/splitting headache. 

Other questions

As acupuncture is a holistic medicine your practitioner will also be asking lots of other questions, some of which you may wonder as to their relevance. There will be questions about your sleep, your diet and digestion, energy levels and stress. For women there will also be questions regarding your menstrual cycle and if appropriate the menopause.

Why acupuncture?

The advantage of using acupuncture is that there are virtually no side-effects. People who continually take over the counter medication can get rebound headaches which then results in a vicious circle of pain.

So if you visit an acupuncturist for your headache be prepared to describe it in detail; that gives your practitioner a better chance of working out where the problem is and choosing the acupuncture points accordingly.  

More information

For more information about how acupuncture may help your headache please visit the British Acupuncture Council website. The Cochrane Institute have reviewed studies using acupuncture for headaches and there is also a brief article on Reuters which you may find interesting.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Therapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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