Melbourne's Trusted Team for Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine

Actually Halve Nasty Headache Frequency and Reduce Medication

Taking off work because of your headaches?
Well, here’s the deal, this article will help you understand how acupuncture can help you get back on track.
Acupuncture for headaches has been scientifically proven to help you in the following three ways:
  1. alleviate symptoms
  2. reduce medication use
  3. target specific areas for healing
Then keep reading…
Say what you will, Acupuncture for headaches is a natural, drug-free therapy that can relieve symptoms.

Is acupuncture good for headaches?

Yes, of course!
Evidence shows acupuncture for headaches is a safe and effective alternative to medications.
You want to stop taking painkillers for annoying headaches, right!
And for good reason…
Medications can cause long-term impairing side effects.
So, we want to prevent future complications and can do that with acupuncture.
Acupuncture for headaches works to regulate the imbalances in your body which are provoking headaches.
By balancing the body, acupuncture can not only prevent future issues but also affect other symptoms.

What kind of headache does acupuncture help with?

Cluster Headaches

Symptoms may include:
  • constant dull pain around the eye
  • or intense pain 1-3 months of the year, commonly at night,
  • red eye, runny or blocked nose, and/or a drooping eyelid

Tension Headaches

Symptoms may include:
  • pressure or tightness in a band around the head
  • possibly going into or from the neck,
  • cervical or muscular issues

Anxiety Headaches

Emotional imbalance can cause Tension Headaches.
Symptoms may include:
  • the feeling of intense pressure or heaviness in the head
  • a tight band around the head

Headaches behind Eyes

Headaches behind the eyes can indicate migraine headaches, which can last for hours!

Pregnancy Headaches

Symptoms may include:
  • hormonal and blood volume changes
  • lack of sleep
  • stress 
And don’t forget, caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches during pregnancy.

Migraine Headaches

Headaches possibly accompanied by:
  • nausea
  • behind the eye pain
Migraine treatment deserves its own page with many words but let’s try and briefly summarise now…

So, What are Migraines and How Can Acupuncture Help?

Migraines are a neurovascular headache disorder with symptoms including:
  • vision changes
  • face or hand tingling
  • throbbing headaches
  • nausea & vomiting
  • abnormal light/noise/smell sensitivity
  • skin sensitivity
  • muscle tenderness
And as you are aware, migraines can reduce the quality of life and restrict exercising, socialising, and hobbies.
Treatment options often include anti-inflammatories, triptans, antiemetics, and beta-blockers…
But, be aware…
These medications have many side effects!
Why is this important?
Well, acupuncture is an effective and safe alternative to relieving headaches and migraine-related symptoms…
Without side effects!
Acupuncture for headaches works because of its effect on the neurovascular system.
So what’s the evidence you may ask?
The following sections will help nip it in the bud for you.

Acupuncture for headaches and migraines

Traditional Chinese medicine views migraines as an imbalance in the body.
Each individual may experience migraines for various reasons:
  • different body imbalances
  • different lifestyles
  • and/or different constitutions
Thus, acupuncture for headaches can differ from patient to patient.
When all is said and done, treatments are personalised to achieve the most effective results.
Practitioners use acupuncture to send signals to the body to promote healing and regulate imbalances.
A healthier and happier you!
Now back to where we started off…
Acupuncture reduces the intensity and frequency of migraine episodes and accompanying symptoms.
Acupuncture reduces medication use…
Acupuncture reduces the need for migraine medication, thus lessening potential medication side effects.
Acupuncture targets specific areas for healing…
Acupuncture prevents excess inflammation through nerve and chemical mediator regulation.

What about period migraines?

Period-related or PMS headaches can arise when there is an estrogen drop during the menstrual cycle.
That happens during days 14-28 of your cycle.
So, In this luteal phase, lower estrogen causes serotonin production to drop.
Certain nerves in the head then release peptides which are known to cause migraines!
Period-related headaches can be more intense due to the decrease in activity of the body’s natural opioids (the feel-good chemicals!).
Acupuncture decreases migraine peptide production and increases serotonin and natural opioid levels.
Acupuncture can prevent and reduce headaches that escalate during menstruation.

What do the researchers say?

Acupuncture alleviates pain by reducing the intensity and frequency of headaches…
… and any accompanying symptoms.
Acupuncture reduces medication use and the need for painkillers… thus lessening potential medication side effects
Acupuncture also targets specific areas for healing.
This targeting prevents excess inflammation through nerve and chemical mediator regulation.
Want proof?
Check out what the researchers say in the references at the end of this article.

How often should you get acupuncture for headaches?

The number of treatments necessary for alleviation depends on each individual and their body.
For example, people suffering from chronic headaches may need more treatments.
Everyone is different!
Therefore treatment times will be catered to each person.

Are there pressure points to relieve headaches?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles into specific therapeutic points in the body by a licensed professional…
whereas acupressure uses firm pressure to massage the same points to elicit a similar effect.
Acupressure, if performed correctly, can relieve headache tension.
So why do we recommend acupuncture over acupressure?
Acupuncture creates a stronger stimulation to activate the body’s innate healing process.

Explore the symptoms we treat further


As you may be aware, headaches can impact quality of life, causing both physical and emotional distress.
Western medicine usually prescribes anti-inflammatory and tryptamine medications for migraine headaches.
However, they also produce side effects such as:
  • indigestion,
  • abdominal discomfort,
  • diarrhoea,
  • chest/throat tightness,
  • muscle aches and fatigue
And of course long-term use can also impact the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and liver.
The good news is acupuncture provides an effective alternative with no side effects for the treatment of headaches.
Chinese Medicine assists by:
  • Priming the gastrointestinal tract to better tolerate the effects of medication
  • Regulating elevated levels of peptides present during the headache stage of migraines… associated with symptom improvement
  • Stimulating the secretion of natural endorphins at inflammatory sites through nerve signalling.
  • Mediating vagal stimulation and dopamine levels through both parasympathetic and sympathetic pathways.

”Acupuncture added to usual care or treatment of migraine resulted in people having the frequency of headaches at least halved… the effect of true acupuncture was still present after six months”

Neck pain and tightness

Neck pain and tightness can be a cause of stress, and even the result of it.
It affects work, socialising, hobbies, and other daily activities.
Painkillers and muscle relaxants are commonly used for neck pain.
However, they can produce side effects, especially in the long run.
Acupuncture for headaches provides an effective alternative with no side effects.
Chinese Medicine assists by:
  • Stimulating the secretion of natural endorphins at inflammatory sites through nerve signalling
  • Mediating vagal stimulation and dopamine levels through both parasympathetic and sympathetic pathways
  • Transmits signals to the brain to create a site-specific response

Photo and Phonophobia

Many migraine episodes are triggered by light or sound, interfering with daily activities… and reducing quality of life.
Acupuncture works to regulate the neural system and pain mediators to prevent episodes from occurring.
Chinese Medicine assists by:
  • Regulating the chemicals that cause photophobia
  • Modulating the pain pathways
  • Settling the reflexes that surrounds the eyes
  • Regulating the by-products that circulate during a migraines to speed up feeling better

Nausea and Vomiting

Nausea and vomiting induced by migraine episodes can negatively impact quality of life.
Antiemetic medications are commonly recommended for migraine-induced nausea and vomiting.
They also produce side effects such as headaches, constipation and dry mouth.
Acupuncture provides an effective alternative with no side effects for the treatment of nausea and vomiting.
Chinese Medicine assists by:
  • Counterbalancing the upward motion caused by migraines
  • Calming down the signals that initiate nausea and vomiting
  • Strengthening the digestive system

Facial and neck pain

Facial and neck pain from migraine attacks can be a detriment to daily activities.
Painkillers can damage the gastrointestinal tract and long-term can affect the liver.
Acupuncture provides an effective alternative with no side effects for the treatment of facial and neck pain.
Chinese Medicine assists by:
  • Stimulates the release of endorphins (feel good chemicals) at inflammatory areas
  • Promoting the release of the body’s natural painkillers
  • Signalling the brain to focus healing on the area


Dizziness can be an aspect of migraines and can impact the quality of life, causing both physical and emotional distress.
Acupuncture aims to reduce the frequency and intensity of dizziness to improve daily functioning.
Chinese Medicine assists by:
  • Balancing nervous system activity
  • Improving circulation to the neck and head
  • Improving blood supply to the brain
  • Regulating the pressure of blood vessels


Fatigue can arise alongside migraines and slow the recovery process.
Acupuncture aims to reduce fatigue to provide more energy for both healing and daily activities.
Chinese Medicine assists by:
  • Reducing inflammation to free up bodily resources for other functions
  • Reducing stress and consumption of the body
  • Balancing our nervous systems and hormones

How does Traditional Chinese medicine view headaches?

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) sees headaches as a symptom arising from an internal imbalance.
There are multiple ways in which a headache can surface… these include both external and internal influences.
Acupuncture for headaches addresses both internal and external causes to regulate imbalances.


Windy weather

Wind can carry the cold weather straight into your body!
It likes to creep in at the neck, causing neck stiffness and tightness. This can lead to headaches.


Blunt force trauma can cause an internal buildup of fluid and healing agents.
This causes a blood and Qi flow blockage in the channel, and resulting in undernourished muscles.
Dehydrated tight muscles can cause headaches.
Even a repetitive strain injury (RSI) can be considered a trauma to the body and impede blood flow to the head.
Movements like hairstyling, lifting boxes, chopping vegetables can fall under this category.

Contracted pathogen (virus)

The molecules necessary to fight off pathogens can cause inflammation.
Inflammation produces blockages or weakens the channel, generating headaches.


Emotional imbalance

Stress, frustration, anger, and repressed emotions block smooth energy (Qi) flow in the body… inhibiting optimal systemic functioning.
Headaches arise from hormonal, neuro/cardiovascular nervous systems.

Poor diet and lack of exercise

Poor diet and irregular eating habits damage the TCM organs responsible for digestion.
A lack of nutrients and movement of the body can create sluggishness, unwanted fluids, and fat. This movement then causes internal imbalances and therefore headaches.


Environmental cold or a diet of raw, cold, icy foods and drinks can generate cold inside the body.
Cold’s nature contracts blood vessels, slowing down Qi and Blood flow, and tightens muscles. Cold can hinder normal flow of Blood to the head.


Environmental heat or a diet of spicy, energetically hot foods can generate Heat inside the body.
Stress, frustration, anger, and repressed emotions also produce Heat in the body.
Heat has the quality of rising, and can cause headaches.


Any deficiency in the body can lead to headaches, including:
  • Yin (nutrients and fluids),
  • Yang (functioning and movement),
  • and organ deficiencies
… all creating a lack of nourishment of the head and neck muscles.

Feel stronger physically & emotionally

Get relief from the physical side effects of medication through acupuncture for headaches.
Your first 60 minute visit includes: initial consultation, acupuncture treatment, & personalised herbal formula.

Written by

Sustain Health
Sustain Health is a multidisciplinary, wellness clinic located in South Melbourne, Australia. We believe good medicine is about looking at the whole being, treating the person and keeping them well. We view each patient as an individual affected by their unique lifestyle, diet, environment, emotions and attitude. Every individual’s health needs a tailored approach to achieve better and sustainable medical solutions. Sustain Health currently offers its clients: * Fertility * IVF Support * Acupuncture * Chinese Medicine * Chiropractic

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