Migraines in the Summer

Cherry Blossoms

Some migraine sufferers experience more frequent migraines during the summer months. The heat and dehydration in summer trigger migraines for a lot of people. 

Why do migraines show up more in summer?

In TCM, migraines are usually linked to three pathologies: The liver system heat pathology, the heart system heat pathology, and liver system blood deficiency. 

In TCM, the liver is responsible for your emotions, and the heart is responsible for Shen (spirit).  When we are under stress, our energy flow gets blocked, and that generates heat in the liver system. As a result, we get easily frustrated and angry. When there is external heat in summer, it is more likely to trigger internal heat in the liver system, triggering migraines for people that tend to be bothered by them in the first place. 

According to the five-element theory in TCM, the liver system is the mother of the heart system. Where there is extra heat in the liver system, the heart system gets vulnerable to the heat as well. What does heat in the heart system look like? A busy mind, difficulty falling asleep, mouth sores, and migraines. 

In addition to the heat pathology, blood deficiency is another cause for migraines. Blood deficiency usually shows up as weakness, pale lip and face, dizziness, and sensitivity to light. Blood deficiency gets worse with certain diets and staying up late. 

How Diet Can Contribute to Migraines

In summertime, we tend to eat a light diet with mostly raw salad, which doesn’t replenish blood in the liver system according to TCM theory. As days get longer in summer, chances are that people decide to enjoy the evening a bit longer and push back their bedtime. As a result, we become more prone to blood deficiency. As previously mentioned, blood deficiency causes sensitivity to light. When light sensitivity meets bright light in summer, that unfortunately almost always leads to migraines for a large group of people. Stay tuned for more tips on how we can help your migraines!

How Can Migraines be Treated with Acupuncture

Acupuncture helps energy flow smoothly within our body, across all the meridians. Each meridian is linked to a body system. The first step of treating migraine is to figure out which meridian is impacted. From there, we target one or more meridians and unblock the energy, and thus relieve migraines and prevent new ones from happening. It is worth noting that it takes a TCM professional to untangle the tricky question of which meridian and body system need to be worked on in order to treat migraines successfully. 

Is it Possible to Manage Migraines at Home?

There are two acupuncture points you can massage on a daily basis to prevent migraine.

The first one is Wai Guan (SJ-5). It is located at the midpoint between the ulna and the radius, about three-finger width above the crease of the wrist. Combine this point along with Tai Chong (LV-3) for the best prevention. Tai Chong (LV-3) is on the dorsum of the foot, in the hollow distal to the junction of the first and second metatarsal bones. Press both of these points 50 times daily in the morning or before bed for migraine prevention.

Another point you can press on that may be effective to relieve low-grade migraine is He Gu (LI-4). This point is located on the dorsum of the hand, radial to the midpoint of the second metacarpal bone. Be sure to press deeply into this point for 2 minutes for migraine relief. 

Wai Guan (SJ-5)

Tai Chong (LV-3)

He Gu (LI-4)

If you don’t get any relief by pressing on these points, it’s a good idea to go ahead and schedule your appointment to be evaluated by one of our acupuncturists at our clinic in Washington, DC. 

About the Author

Qianlei Li, MSOM, Dipl.O.M., L.Ac.
Former Associate Acupuncturist at Cherry Blossom Healing Arts

Hi! I’m Qianlei. Born and raised in China, I grew up seeing the power of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). I moved to the States in 2013 with the mission to let more people know the power of TCM.

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