Excess and Deficient
TCM separates headaches into two general categories: excessive and deficient. Experienced as pain, the diminished flow of energy and blood within the head is characteristic of both excessive and deficient headaches.
An excess headache is caused by an excess of energy, heat and/or blood in the upper body resulting in head congestion. Though an excess headache could be caused by traumatic injury, more commonly it is caused by an oversupply of energy in the upper body. This oversupply is typically vented as heat, which rises upward to the head. Things that provoke heat rising are anger, frustration, stress, or ingesting alcohol or spicy foods.
Deficiency headaches occur when the head is not adequately nourished by blood or energy. Typically chronic, deficient headaches occur more frequently in women. This gender bias is likely due to the menstrual cycle. During menstruation, blood is directed to the lower part of the body which leaves less available for circulation in the head. Deficient headaches are often accompanied by fatigue.
A TCM practitioner will have specific methods to balance the liver’s energetics depending on the patient’s unique presentation. However, the majority of modern practitioners rely on the safest technique – harmonization. Unless a person exhibits a very strong orientation toward either a deficient or excessive condition, most practitioners rely on this harmonizing approach. By simultaneously strengthening that which is weakened and calming that which has become excessive, the harmonizing approach is balanced on its own.
Sho-saiko-to, is one of the most cherished liver harmonizing formulas in TCM. Consisting of herbs to tonify weakness typical of liver ailments while using other herbs to eliminate liver toxicity and congestion, Sho-saiko-to can benefit many liver-related headaches. Since this specific formulation directs the herbs’ properties to the liver and gallbladder channels, it is capable of harmonizing many imbalances present in these locations. While Sho-saiko-to may not be powerful enough in any one extreme to help every person, it certainly can benefit a great number of headache sufferers immune to Western medicine’s repertoire.
Headaches can be understood and described by different medical systems, subsequently enlisting different kinds of treatments. While certain therapeutic approaches work miracles for some people, others may find the relief they are seeking from a different system of healthcare. Western medicine is not to be discounted in the treatment of head pain – their evaluation and treatment can be life-saving. However, if your headaches are not dangerous and don’t respond to conventional medical treatment, consider an alternate approach for finding relief. In some models, such as TCM, you can actually help restore a healthy balance to your liver – and consequently cause your liver-related headache to diminish.