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A migraine headache is a form of headache which is typically considered the most intense and disabling. Migraines are chronic in nature, meaning that they happen often for the individual that is affected. Typically Migraines are one sided in nature, meaning that the pain is felt on one side of the head.

Migraine Symptoms

Looking at the symptoms of migraine headaches can be a little overwhelming and not make a lot of sense at first. The list looks like:

  • Pain - Moderate to severe on one or both sides of the head
  • Throbbing - Some pain may throb, almost like the heart pulse, but on its own rhythm
  • Vomiting
  • Photophobia - Fear of, or dislike of light
  • Phonophobia - Fear of, or dislike of sound
  • Pain may be worse with movement

A traditional migraine, often referred to as a migraine with aura, is preceded by a group of specific symptoms called aura, most commonly experienced as a visual disturbance (sense the term aura). Common migraine or migraine without aura, in contrast, lacks this specific warning. Many migraine patients will experience a prodrome, a vague sensation that things are just not right that may precede the headache by several hours. Although sometimes comparable in severity, the symptoms of migraine differ from those of cluster headache.

Alternative Medicine and Migraines

When one looks at the Oriental Medical breakup of headaches, migraine symptoms start to make a lot more sense. In this system, migraine symptoms can be broken down by location, type of pain, amelioration and aggravation. Then, diagnosis can be made in relation to the organ systems or the channels affected. Lets look at how some of these symptoms might break down.

Location of Pain in Headaches:

  • Top of the head - The liver channel reaches the top of the head. This type of headache is most often related to "a deficient liver blood state" but can also relate to "liver yang rising" which is an excess state. The difference being that if excess, the headache would be aggravated by lying down, but if deficient, would get relief from lying down.
  • Sides of the Head
    • Only One Sided - This relates to the "Gall Bladder" channel, and headaches here are either due to "Liver Yang Rising" or "Liver Fire"
    • Temples - This again is typically thought of as due to a disturbance in the "Gall Bladder" channel, and as such, can be either caused by "Liver Yang, "Liver Fire" or "Liver Wind." This location shows pain that is often throbbing in nature.
    • Behind the Eyes - This is a very frequent location for migraine. This type of headache is often due to "Liver Blood Deficiency."
  • Forehead - Headaches here are usually related to the "stomach."
  • Back of the Head - Here, headaches are usually due to a "Kidney Deficiency" manifesting on the "Bladder Channel."
  • Whole Head - Chronic Headaches n this area are due to "Kidney - Essence deficiency. They are not typically scene as migraines.

Types of Pain in Migraine Headaches:

  • Dull Headache - A headache is due to one of the deficiencies outlined above
  • Feeling of Heaviness - This is characteristic of "Dampness" or "Phlegm"
  • Distending Pain - Typically a migraine symptom of "Liver Yang" or "Liver Fire."
  • Stiff - "Liver Yang"
  • Pulling - "Liver Wind"
  • Stabbing and Boring - This sensation is very intense and fixed in one place and it indicates "Blood Stasis." This is more of a symptoms of Cluster Headaches.
  • Feeling of Emptiness - This can indicate a deficiency of Kidney Yin or Yang.

Posted by Staff at July 22, 2005 6:04 PM

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Comments Archive

after reading these symtoms, I am sure that what i have is a migraine. What can i do to get rid of it? Its been going on for 3 days now.

Posted by: Jason at January 13, 2006 4:16 PM

i have been suffering from migraine for years but this past few weeks, i experience vertigo that lasts for a few days.

Posted by: lally at January 15, 2006 9:03 AM

i've have headaches whenever there are changes in my sleeping pattern. although the symptoms are indeed what is listed above im still not sure if its migraine, please help.

Posted by: chii at April 2, 2006 4:54 PM

My mother is nearly 80. When she was in her late 20's she became ill with a severe headache. She was diagnosed with migraine attributed to high blood pressure, prescribed medications for high blood pressure and sent on her way.

But she always had the headache to some degree.

About two years ago her newest doctor (at her age she's had a lot of them!) took her off the blood pressure medication. Almost immediately she suffered a mild stroke. The new diagnosis claims that she never had migraines at all; that she in fact had her first stroke with the first headache 50 years ago and has been on the wrong system of therapy ever since!

She was given an anti-seizure medication which she has taken ever since.

Sometimes she still gets headaches...don't we all...but her first reaction was how strange it was, after all these decades, to not be in constant pain.

Posted by: Sparrow at April 12, 2006 7:43 PM

I just had migraine attack yesterday and it was horrible. I vomitted a lot that I don't have the strength to throw out again when feel nauseated. My whole body was so cold that I shiverred and have to crawl to my bed. It was like a nightmare to me though I was totally conscious when it happened. But, with the help from my good friends, I managed to get through the pain slowly. I think, it would be better for the migrain patients to have people take care of them when the sickness happen. Athough it might not help to release their pain, it does give them courage to bare with it. I used to face migraine alone many times and I never like it. It never makes me stronger. Besides it causes me to have more fear on migraine. But, with all the help I got from the people around me, I feel much better and stronger now. Even the medication couldn't do this. I know that migraine will attack me again someday, but perhaps, I will be more prepared for it cause I know there is always a person to hold on to when it happen.

Posted by: Hana at May 12, 2006 1:43 PM

my migraine starts in the back of my one eye.but what happens to me is that i find that my speech is impaired and i cannot talk. is this normal.


Posted by: lauren at June 18, 2006 6:40 PM


I was dignosed with migrain a day ago, and its the worst feeling. I couldn't breath right and i felt like half of my head was bursting, believe me its the worst.

Posted by: Nancy at November 2, 2006 11:45 PM