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Acupuncture Today
December, 2000, Vol. 01, Issue 12
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Unique Treatment Methods for Headaches

By Ken Smith

While studying in China in 1997, I was able to study from a number of teachers, each of whom had their own styles of treatment. One teacher in particular, Dr. Gao, is known for his unique methods of treatment.

Revered by his colleagues, the 72-year old Dr. Gao is a fifth-generation TCM doctor and instructor at the Zhejiang TCM College in Hangzhou. He sometimes uses points and techniques that were used by earlier generations of his family and then were passed down to him. For example, he sometimes would apply a powder (the ingredients of which he does not disclose) to the skin, then tape over it to treat low back pain and other conditions. Days later a blister would appear, exactly identical to a moxa blister.

I will share several techniques that Dr. Gao has used to treat headaches (particularly acute headaches). The first technique involves needling LI4 (he gu) and tai yang bilaterally. After needling those four points, he needles various a shi gallbladder points (or other a shi points in the scalp) until a qi sensation is achieved. He then withdraws the needles and moves onto the remaining scalp a shi points.

Another method Dr. Gao employs is to needle GB8 (shuaigu) and SJ5 (waiguan) for a few minutes on the left or right side only, then withdraw the needles and needle the same points on the opposite side.

The third method Dr. Gao uses for extremely painful, acute headaches involves rotating two points (such as GB8 and SJ5) evenly at the same time on one side, then repeating this method on the other side. It is important when utilizing this method to needle with the same speed (one to two rotations per second) and direction. Should the headache occur due to a deficiency, the practitioner can slowly rotate the needles to tonify. I sometimes saw Dr. Gao employ this method of rotating two needles at the same time for other conditions [such as treating gallstones with a hua to jiaji point next to UB19 (dan shu) and GB34 (yang ling guan). He mentioned that this type of needling is quite effective in treating "severe or acute pain."

All three methods are applicable for any patient who has a severe headache at the time of treatment. Once the pain has subsided, other points can be needled to treat the underlying condition according to the diagnosis.

Dr. Gao mentioned that within 3-5 minutes, acute headache pain should subside by applying one of the aforementioned techniques. These time-proven methods of treating headaches are sure to be a valuable addition to any clinical practice.


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