Chinese Herbal Formulas for Migraines and Headaches


By Dr. Scott Graves, Natural Blaze

Chinese medicine has some of the most remarkable herbal formulas that deal with migraines and tension headaches.  They have stood the test of hundreds if not thousands of years and I personally have found them to be very valuable in the clinic.  First, however, it is very important to remember that Chinese medicine is a medicine that deals with patterns.  Therefore, if 10 people came into the clinic with a headache, each one of them could have 10 different patterns, which would be treated very differently. Asking a Chinese medical doctor, “What should I take for this?” is a misguided question considering that your pattern must be first understood then the appropriate formula can be recommended.  If you take a formula that doesn’t fit your pattern, it could even make your condition worse.  This is why it is best to consult with a practitioner before trying a Chinese herbal formula for any condition.  

As was mentioned in on another page in this series, over 17 patterns exist that could be contributing to a headache or migraine. Some patterns are more common than others, and the four that are most common are listed here below.  We use formulas from one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Taiwan that have been tested for metals and chemicals and are affordable for the amount of formula you get compared to other companies.  

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  1. Liver Yang Rising.  Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin is one of the primary formulas that is used to subdue Liver Yang Rising.  Many people have found this to be a miraculously helpful.  Think of Liver Yang Rising possibly as the type of person who is ready to blow their top, who can fly off the handle at any moment.  This formula is good for the following symptoms: headaches on the side of the head, vertex or temples, visual disturbances, tinnitus, dizziness, head may feel heavy, dryness in the mouth and throat, nausea or even vomiting, restlessness, insomnia (vivid dreams), and feeling hot especially in the upper part of the body.  This is the formula that is frequently given to those with high blood pressure, vertigo, epilepsy, Meniere’s disease, or cardiovascular disease.  
  2. Blood deficiency (Liver blood deficiency). One of the best blood strengthening formulas is Si Wu Tang, which is used not just for headaches or migraines, but for many other things.  Blood deficiency doesn’t mean you don’t have enough blood, it means that the quality of the blood isn’t what it could or should be.  The herbs in this formula change that.  This formula is also indicated for the following symptoms:  dizziness, blurry vision, pale lips and nails, irregular menstruation, vertigo, tinnitus, insomnia, dry skin, menorrhagia (excess menstrual bleeding), abdominal or reproductive masses (cysts, fibroids).  This is also a classic Chinese herbal formula for menstrual issues.  Other formulas that help tonify the blood and do other things as well are Ba Zhen Tang and Shi Quan Da Bu Tang.
  3. Blood Stagnation.  Typically when people have blood stagnation in the head one of the tell-tale signs is a sharp stabbing pain.  This is frequently seen in migraines, more so than headaches.  When blood does move around, and stagnates, new fresh blood can’t get to those parts, which eventually causes pain.  There are at least 15 different herbs that are considered blood movers and get things moving in the body properly.  Two great formulas for moving blood in the head and relieving blood stasis are Tong Qiao Huo Xue Tang and Tao Hong Si Wu Tang.    
  4. Liver Qi Stagnation.  In medical school, we humorously called Xiao Yao San the stress-relieving formula.  The job of the liver is to make sure that things are moving around fluidly.  When energy, oxygen or blood isn’t moving around the body will be more “stressed.”  This is one of the most common formulas that we use in the clinic, because everyone is stressed these days and actually fits into this pattern.  This formula also strengthens the blood.  It is used commonly for the following symptoms:  headache, vertigo, dizziness, frequent sighing, pain in the stomach or abdomen, fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression, irritability and shoulder and back pain.  We also frequently use it for menstrual issues, which women love.  

A very important Chinese proverb is: He who takes medicine but neglects his diet wastes the skill of his doctors.  These formulas help tremendously with headaches or migraines; however, if one still is eating many things that cause inflammation and exacerbate such a condition, the formula may not work as intended.  One must cut out ALL things like refined sugar, dairy, GMO wheat, soy and other inflammatory foods.  6-8 servings of vegetables must be consumed per day.  Please see our next page Chinese food therapy for migraines and headaches for more information about healing food for this condition.  Along with these, and in conjunction with other dietary changes, the Chinese herbal formulas for headaches and migraines will work as they were intended.  

If you would like an herbal formula consultation or think this may help you, please contact Dr. Scott at 407-255-0314 for more information or to schedule a consultation.  You do not need to come to the clinic in Orlando, FL in order to have the consultation; it can be done over the phone.

This is part 13 of a series on headaches and migraines – read more from Dr. Scott Graves

Previous parts:

  1. 10 Keys To Healing Tension Headaches And Migraines Naturally
  2. 8 Triggers To Migraine And Tension Headaches
  3. Juicing And Electrolytes For Headaches And Migraines
  4. Shield Yourself From EMF And Electromagnetic Pollution Headaches And Migraines
  5. The Emotions and Consciousness Behind Headaches and Migraines
  6. Chinese Medicine, Headaches And Migraines
  7. Chiropractic for Migraines and Headaches
  8. Organic Whole Food Supplementation For Headaches And Migraines
  9. 7 Ways To Rehydrate To Reverse Headaches And Migraines
  10. 4 Essential Oils for Tension Headaches or Migraines
  11. Acupuncture For Migraines And Headaches
  12. Migraines, Headaches, The Menstrual Cycle And Hormone Changes

Dr. Scott Graves ND, MA is a Florida-based Naturopath and Intuitive who specializes in Nutrition Response Testing, NAET, EFT, and Psychokinesiology. He offers free 15 minute phone consultations and is available for radio and TV interviews. Read his Blog here. Like him on Facebook.

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