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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Chiese Medicine

Saturday last week (5th July 2023) American actress Sandra Bullock’s partner Bryan Randall passed away at 57. He battled Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) privately for 3 years.

What is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)?

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive and neurodegenerative disorder that affects the nerve cells (neurons) responsible for controlling voluntary muscle movements. ALS primarily involves the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, leading to their degeneration and eventual death. As these neurons die, the brain loses the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, leading to muscle weakness, paralysis, and, eventually, respiratory failure.

Main Symptoms of ALS

  1. Muscle weakness: Initial symptoms often include weakness in the limbs, which may affect the ability to walk, grasp objects, speak, or swallow.
  2. Muscle cramps and twitching: Individuals with ALS may experience muscle cramps and fasciculations (muscle twitching).
  3. Difficulty speaking and swallowing: As the disease progresses, speech and swallowing become challenging.
  4. Muscle atrophy: Affected muscles begin to shrink due to the lack of nerve stimulation.
  5. Difficulty breathing: In later stages, respiratory muscles become affected, leading to breathing difficulties.


The exact cause of ALS is not fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. In some cases, ALS can be linked to specific genetic mutations. However, the majority of cases appear to be sporadic with no clear genetic inheritance pattern.


Diagnosing ALS can be complex and involves ruling out other conditions with similar symptoms. The process usually includes a thorough neurological examination, electromyography (EMG), nerve conduction studies, MRI scans, and blood tests. A diagnosis of ALS is typically made based on clinical observations and the exclusion of other possible causes.


As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, there is no cure for ALS, and treatment mainly focuses on managing symptoms and improving the patient’s quality of life. Medications, such as riluzole and edaravone, may help slow disease progression and provide some symptom relief. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy can assist in maintaining mobility and communication. Devices like ventilators may be used to support breathing in later stages of the disease.

ALS and Traditional Chinese medicine

There is limited scientific evidence to suggest that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) may provide some symptom relief for individuals with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). It’s important to note that TCM is a holistic system that aims to restore balance and harmony within the body, and individual responses to TCM treatments can vary.

Some of the ALS symptoms that TCM may potentially address include:

  1. Muscle Cramps and Twitching: Certain herbal remedies and acupuncture may help alleviate muscle cramps and fasciculations.
  2. Pain: TCM treatments, such as acupuncture and herbal medicines, have been used traditionally to manage pain associated with various conditions, including neurological disorders like ALS.
  3. Stress and Anxiety: TCM practices, such as acupuncture and meditation techniques, may help reduce stress and anxiety levels, providing some relief to individuals with ALS who may experience emotional distress.
  4. Improving General Well-Being: TCM treatments often focus on supporting the overall well-being of an individual, which may contribute to an improved sense of quality of life.

It is essential to understand that TCM should not be considered a substitute for evidence-based medical treatments for ALS. ALS is a severe and progressive neurological disorder, and while TCM practices may offer some symptomatic relief or complementary support, there is no cure for the disease through TCM alone.

If someone with ALS is interested in exploring TCM or other complementary therapies, it is crucial that they consult with their healthcare team, including a qualified TCM practitioner, to ensure that these treatments are safe and do not interfere with any existing medical interventions.

Since research and medical knowledge are continuously evolving, it is advisable to consult updated sources and medical professionals for the most recent information regarding ALS treatments and complementary therapies.

How to choose TCM for ALS

When considering the use of Chinese herbal tea as a complementary approach for managing ALS symptoms, it’s crucial to work with a qualified and experienced TCM practitioner. They will take into account the individual’s overall health, specific symptoms, constitution, and any other relevant factors before recommending specific herbs or herbal formulas.

Here are some points to keep in mind:

Consultation with a TCM Practitioner

A TCM practitioner will conduct a thorough assessment to determine the pattern of disharmony or syndrome that best matches the individual’s condition. This involves examining symptoms, pulse, tongue appearance, and other diagnostic methods.

Herb Selection and Formula Creation

Based on the assessment, the TCM practitioner will select appropriate herbs and create a herbal formula tailored to the individual’s needs. The formula may consist of multiple herbs that work synergistically to address specific imbalances.

Quality and Safety

It’s crucial to use high-quality herbs from reputable sources to ensure their safety and effectiveness. Working with a qualified TCM practitioner helps ensure that the herbs are properly sourced and prepared.

Monitoring and Adjustment

TCM treatments are often adjusted over time as the individual’s condition changes. Regular follow-ups with the TCM practitioner are important to assess progress and make any necessary modifications to the treatment plan.

Integration with Conventional Care

TCM should not replace conventional medical treatments for ALS. It can be considered a complementary approach to help manage symptoms and improve well-being alongside standard medical care.

Communication with Medical Team

It’s important for individuals with ALS to maintain open communication between their TCM practitioner and their medical doctors. This ensures that all healthcare providers are aware of the treatments being pursued and can collaborate to provide comprehensive care.


Significant Neurological Improvement in Two Patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis After 4 Weeks of Treatment with Acupuncture Injection Point Therapy Using Enercel
Author links open overlay panelShan Liang 1, David Christner 2, Stephanie Du Laux 2, Dariel Laurent. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies. Volume 4, Issue 4, December 2011, Pages 257-261

Erik K Koda, Acupuncture for Managing Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Med Acupunct 2021 Feb 1;33(1):103-106. doi: 10.1089/acu.2020.1474. Epub 2021 Feb 16.

Poovadan Sudhakaran, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: An Acupuncture Approach, Med Acupunct. 2017 Oct 1; 29(5): 260–268.

Mudan Cai , Eun Jin Yang, Complementary and alternative medicine for treating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: A narrative review. Integr Med Res. 2019 Dec;8(4):234-239

Amenorrhea Fertility and Chinese Medicine

fertility and women's healthAmenorrhea is the absence of menstruation. Regular menstrual cycles generally indicate that ovulation is occurring. While not all cases of amenorrhea automatically mean infertility, amenorrhea can have implications for fertility. Amenorrhea can have various causes and may require different treatment and management. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) including acupuncture Chinese herbal medicine is a holistic approach, and treatment is tailored to each individual’s unique needs. Integrating TCM with conventional medicine may offer a holistic approach to support your reproductive health.

Types of amenorrhea

Primary amenorrhea

This refers to the absence of menstruation in women who have not had a period by the age of 15-16 or within three years after the onset of secondary sexual characteristics (such as breast development) during puberty. Primary amenorrhea may be caused by various factors, including genetic conditions, hormonal imbalances, structural abnormalities, or disorders affecting the reproductive organs. Fertility depends on the underlying cause and may require medical intervention.

Secondary amenorrhea

This refers to the absence of menstruation in women who have previously had regular menstrual cycles. Secondary amenorrhea is typically defined as the absence of menstruation for three or more consecutive cycles or six months in women who previously had regular periods. Common causes of secondary amenorrhea include pregnancy, hormonal imbalances (such as polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid disorders, Premature Ovarian Failure / early menopause ), excessive exercise, stress, weight changes, certain medications, or medical conditions affecting the reproductive system. Treating the underlying cause can often restore fertility.


Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal imbalances, such as high or low levels of oestrogen, progesterone, or thyroid hormones, can disrupt the menstrual cycle. Treatment may involve hormonal therapy or medications to regulate hormone levels, as well as lifestyle changes to support hormonal balance.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that can cause irregular or absent menstruation. Lifestyle changes, such as weight management, regular exercise, and a balanced diet, are often recommended. Hormonal medications, such as oral contraceptives or insulin-sensitising drugs, may be prescribed to regulate the menstrual cycle.

Stress and Lifestyle Factors

Chronic stress, excessive exercise, drastic weight changes, and poor nutrition can all contribute to amenorrhea. Addressing these factors through stress management techniques, adequate rest and relaxation, balanced nutrition, and moderation in exercise can help restore menstrual regularity.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Inadequate intake of essential nutrients, such as iron, can affect menstrual function. Ensuring a well-balanced diet with sufficient intake of nutrients is important. In some cases, dietary supplements may be recommended.

Medication-Induced Amenorrhea

Certain medications, such as certain types of contraceptives or antipsychotics, can cause amenorrhea. Consulting with a healthcare professional or gynaecologist about alternative medications or adjusting the current treatment plan may be necessary.

Post-pill Amenorrhea

Amenorrhoea can occur after stopping the use of oral contraceptive pills (OCPs). This is a common phenomenon known as post-pill amenorrhea. Here are some factors that can contribute to amenorrhea after discontinuing OCPs:

Hormonal Adjustment

Oral contraceptive pills contain synthetic hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. When you stop taking OCPs, it may take some time for your body to adjust and regain its natural hormonal balance. This adjustment period can lead to temporary amenorrhea.

Withdrawal of Hormonal Influence

OCPs provide a consistent level of hormones that suppress ovulation and control the menstrual cycle. When you stop taking the pills, there is a withdrawal of this hormonal influence, which can disrupt the normal functioning of the reproductive system and temporarily halt menstruation.

Individual Variations

Every woman’s body is unique, and the time it takes for the menstrual cycle to resume after stopping OCPs can vary. For some women, menstruation may return promptly, while for others, it may take several weeks or even months for the cycle to regulate.

Dealing with Post-Pill Amenorrhea

If you experience amenorrhea after discontinuing OCPs and you’re concerned about it, here are a few things you can consider:

  1. Give It Time: In most cases, post-pill amenorrhea is temporary, and the menstrual cycle will resume naturally. It’s normal for the body to take some time to readjust after hormonal contraception.
  2. Track Your Symptoms: Keep track of any changes or symptoms you experience after stopping OCPs. This can include the length of time without menstruation, any associated symptoms, or other noticeable changes in your body. If you notice any concerning or persistent symptoms, it’s advisable to consult with your healthcare provider.
  3. Consult Your Healthcare Provider: If you have been experiencing prolonged amenorrhea (absence of menstruation for several months), or if you have other concerns about your menstrual health, it’s recommended to consult with your doctor or Chinese medicine practitioner. They can evaluate your specific situation, perform any necessary tests, and provide personalised advice based on your individual needs.

Post-Pill Amenorrhoea Chinese medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), amenorrhea can be seen as a disruption in the body’s energy flow and balance. TCM practitioners may approach this condition by aiming to restore the harmonious flow of qi (energy) and blood throughout the body. Here are some TCM principles and approaches that may be considered for post-pill amenorrhea:


traditional needle acupunctureAcupuncture is a commonly used TCM technique that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and restore balance. TCM practitioners may target acupuncture points related to reproductive health and hormonal regulation to support the restoration of menstrual cycles.

Chinese herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicineTCM practitioners may prescribe specific herbal formulas tailored to an individual’s needs. These formulas often include a combination of herbs that are believed to nourish the blood, regulate hormonal balance, and promote the flow of qi. Some commonly used herbs in TCM include dong quai (Angelica sinensis), peony (Paeonia lactiflora), and Chinese motherwort (Leonurus japonicus).

Dietary and Lifestyle Recommendations

TCM practitioners may also offer dietary and lifestyle advice to support the restoration of menstrual cycles. This may involve recommendations to eat a balanced diet with nourishing foods, manage stress levels, get adequate rest, and engage in moderate exercise.

Scientific research regarding the effectiveness of TCM for amenorrhea including post-pill amenorrhea is on going and more research is needed. If you have been diagnosed amenorrhea and want to know if acupuncture Chinese herbal medicine can be benefit to your health, please feel free to contact us.

Almond Wellness Centre Coburg and Ringwood clinics

Almond Wellness Centre located in Victoria’s Coburg and Ringwood area, is a multidisciplinary clinic dedicated to promoting wellness. At our clinics, we emphasise the importance of comprehensive healthcare that considers the entirety of an individual. Our approach involves treating each person as a unique individual, taking into account your lifestyle, diet, environment, emotions, and attitude.

All practitioners have comprehensive training in reproductive health including TCM gynaecology and obstetrics, fertility IVF acupuncture support, and pre/ post natal treatment. We have extensive knowledge in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and modern medicine, specifically related to women’s health and fertility.

As each person is different, if you or someone you care about is experiencing menstruation period or fertility issue and would like to explore the potential benefits of Chinese medicine acupuncture, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our fully qualified registered acupuncture Chinese medicine practitioners in both Coburg clinic and Ringwood clinic are here to provide information and assistance. We will assess your specific condition, take into account your medical history, and develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs.

More to read

Women’s 7 year lift cycle

Menstrual Cycle and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Can you have period without ovulating?

Having two periods in one month? You may just have ovulation bleeding 一个月来两次月经?你也许只是排卵期出血

Premature Ovarian Failure and Acupuncture Chinese Medicine Management

Arthritis Chinese Medicine Acupuncture

acupuncture for arthritisIf you live with arthritis, you know what a challenge it can be to find relief from joint pain and other symptoms. But there are many things you can do to manage and control your arthritis and live a healthy, active life.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can be a powerful addition to any treatment plan – without common side effects.

Common types of arthritis

1. Osteoarthritis (OA)

It occurs when the cartilage between the joints breaks down, usually affecting the hips, hands, knees, low back, or neck.

Some factors can increase your risk, including a joint injury, being overweight, aging, and genetics. Putting stress on a joint through repetitive motion can also increase your risk.

2. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

This chronic condition occurs when the lining of the joints becomes inflamed, and can lead to long term joint damage and even loss of movement. Women are two to three times more likely to get RA than men. RA often starts in the hands or feet, and usually affects the same joints on both sides of the body.

3. Gout and psoriatic arthritis

These are two other common types of arthritis that can affect individuals.


Main symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Warm, swollen or tender joints
  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever
  • Weakness

Treatment options

Treatment generally focuses on relieving pain and preventing further joint damage. Often this is done through the use of anti-inflammatory drugs and other medications, as well as through self-care and physical therapy. In some cases, surgery may even be needed.

Arthritis and Chinese medicine

Chinese medicine has a long history of using various approaches to address arthritis and related conditions. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views arthritis as a result of imbalances or disruptions in the flow of Qi (vital energy) and blood within the body. TCM treatment aims to restore the balance of Qi and blood to alleviate symptoms and improve overall health. Here are some common approaches used in Chinese medicine for arthritis:


Acupuncture for arthritis on feetAcupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate the flow of Qi and promote balance. Acupuncture is believed to help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve joint function. The selection of acupuncture points depends on the individual’s pattern of disharmony and can be combined with other TCM modalities, such as moxibustion (the burning of herbs near the skin) or cupping (the use of suction cups on the skin).

Benefit of acupuncture for arthritis

Acupuncture is a commonly used treatment modality in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for various types of arthritis. It involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate the flow of Qi (vital energy) and promote balance. Here’s how acupuncture can be beneficial for arthritis:

Pain Relief:

Acupuncture is known for its analgesic effects and can help reduce pain associated with arthritis. The insertion of acupuncture needles stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving substances produced by the body. It can help alleviate joint pain, muscle pain, and general discomfort associated with arthritis.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects:

Acupuncture has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. By promoting the flow of Qi and blood, it helps reduce inflammation in the affected joints. This can help relieve swelling, stiffness, and improve joint mobility.

Improve Joint Function:

Acupuncture aims to restore the balance of Qi and promote optimal function within the body. By addressing the underlying imbalances contributing to arthritis, it can help improve joint function and range of motion. This can lead to increased mobility and decreased disability associated with arthritis.

Individualised Treatment:

Acupuncture in TCM is highly individualised, and the selection of acupuncture points depends on the specific pattern of disharmony identified in each person. A TCM practitioner will assess your symptoms, medical history, and conduct diagnostic techniques (such as pulse and tongue examination) to determine the appropriate acupuncture points for your specific type of arthritis.

Chinese herbal medicine

Chinese herbal formulas are commonly prescribed in TCM to address arthritis. The selection of herbs is based on the individual’s specific pattern of disharmony, which is determined through TCM diagnostic methods. These formulas may include herbs with anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and immunomodulatory properties. Herbal medicine is often tailored to the individual and can be used internally (taken orally) or externally (applied topically)

10 common Chinese herbs/herbal formularies for arthritis

Chinese herbal medicine has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to manage arthritis symptoms and promote overall health and well-being. Chinese herbs are often prescribed based on an individual’s specific pattern of disharmony identified in TCM diagnostics. Here are 10 commonly used Chinese herbs /herbal formularies for arthritis:

1. Eucommia Bark (Du Zhong):

Known for its tonifying properties, Eucommia bark is believed to strengthen the bones, tendons, and ligaments. It is often used in formulas for arthritis and joint pain.

2. Chinese Skullcap (Huang Qin):

Chinese Skullcap has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It is commonly used in formulas to alleviate joint inflammation and reduce pain in arthritis.

3. White Willow Bark (Bai Liu):

White Willow bark has been used traditionally for pain relief and has anti-inflammatory effects. It is often included in formulas for joint pain associated with arthritis.

4. Frankincense (Ru Xiang) and Myrrh (Mo Yao):

These resinous substances are frequently used together in formulas for arthritis. They are believed to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

5. Clematis Root (Wei Ling Xian):

Clematis root is commonly used in TCM for joint pain and swelling. It is believed to promote blood circulation and alleviate stiffness and pain.

6. Mulberry Twig (Sang Zhi):

Mulberry twig is known for its ability to dispel wind and dampness in TCM. It is often used in formulas for arthritis with symptoms of stiffness, swelling, and limited mobility.

7. Gentianae Macrophyllae (Qin Jiao):

Gentianae Macrophyllae is great for arthritis pain, swelling joints. It relieves pain and reduce inflammation, especially with muscle tension in the upper extremities.

8. San Bi Tang (Three Painful Obstruction Decoction):

This herbal formula combines various herbs such as Rx. Dipsaci (Xu Duan), Saposhnikoviae (Fang feng) and Panax Ginseng (Ren Shen) to relieve all types of joint pain associated with arthritis.

9. Juan Bi Tang (Remove Painful Obstruction Decoction):

This formula includes herbs such as Gentiana Macrophylla Root (Qin Jiao) and Large-Leaf Gentian Root (Da Qin Jiao). It is used to alleviate joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.

10. Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang (Angelica Pubescens and Sang ji sheng Decoction):

This formula contains Pubescent Angelica Root (Du Huo) and Mulberry Mistletoe Stem (Sang Ji Sheng). It is often used for chronic joint pain, particularly in the lower back and knees.

Herbal remedies may be prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that may also include acupuncture, dietary adjustments, and lifestyle modifications. Please note that Chinese herbal medicine should be prescribed and administered by qualified registered TCM practitioners like us at Almond Wellness Centre.

Other TCM therapies

Other Chinese medicine therapies including Tui Na Massage, Qi Gong and Tai Chi.

Tui Na is a therapeutic Chinese massage technique that involves applying pressure, kneading, and stretching to specific areas of the body. Tui Na aims to improve circulation, relax muscles, reduce pain, and restore the flow of Qi. It can be used as a standalone therapy or in combination with other TCM treatments.

Qi Gong and Tai Chi are mind-body practices that involve gentle movements, breathing exercises, and meditation. These practices are believed to promote the flow of Qi, improve flexibility, balance, and overall well-being. They can be beneficial for individuals with arthritis by reducing pain, increasing joint mobility, and improving overall quality of life.


Acupuncture  anti-inflammatory effects

  • A randomised controlled trial published in the Journal of Pain (2017) investigated the effects of acupuncture on inflammatory markers in patients with knee osteoarthritis. The study found that acupuncture reduced the levels of inflammatory markers, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), compared to sham acupuncture.
  • A systematic review and meta-analysis published in PLOS ONE (2018) examined the effects of acupuncture on systemic inflammatory markers in various diseases. The analysis included studies on rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and post-stroke inflammation, among others. The review concluded that acupuncture showed potential for reducing inflammatory markers in these conditions, but further well-designed studies were needed.

Acupuncture Improved Joint Function

  • For osteoarthritis:
    • A randomised controlled trial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2004) compared acupuncture with sham acupuncture for knee osteoarthritis. The study found that acupuncture significantly improved physical function and reduced pain compared to sham acupuncture.
    • A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine (2020) evaluated the effects of acupuncture on knee osteoarthritis. The analysis of multiple studies showed that acupuncture had a positive effect on improving joint function and reducing pain.
  • For rheumatoid arthritis:
    • A randomised controlled trial published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology (2008) compared acupuncture with sham acupuncture in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The study found that acupuncture improved joint function and reduced pain compared to sham acupuncture.
    • A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the journal Pain Medicine (2015) assessed the effects of acupuncture on rheumatoid arthritis. The analysis of several studies indicated that acupuncture had beneficial effects on pain reduction and improved joint function.

Almond Wellness Centre acupuncture Chinese medicine clinics

Acupuncture Chinese herbal medicine should be prescribed and administered by a qualified TCM practitioner. At Almond Wellness Centre, both our Coburg clinic and Ringwood clinic have fully qualified registered acupuncture Chinese medicine practitioners. We will consider your individual condition, symptoms, and other factors before formulating a customised prescription and treatment plan. Treatment may include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, supplements, dietary adjustments, stretching exercises and lifestyle modifications. We can monitor your progress throughout the course of treatment.

To know if Chinese medicine acupuncture can be beneficial to your arthritis pain, please contact us directly or simply call 8802 1519 to make an appointment.


  1. Knee Osteoarthritis:
    • Acupuncture for patients with chronic knee pain: A randomized controlled trial. Annals of Internal Medicine (2004)
    • The Effects of Acupuncture on Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal: Journal of Clinical Medicine (2020)
    • Hao Tian etc. Acupuncture for Knee Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials with Meta-Analyses and Trial Sequential Analyses. Biomed Res Int
      . 2022 Apr 21
  2. Rheumatoid Arthritis:
      • Acupuncture in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized controlled trial. , Journal of Clinical Rheumatology (2008)
      • The Effectiveness of Acupuncture for Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Pain Medicine (2015)
      • Clinical Efficacy of Acupuncture for the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis: Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2022; 2022: 5264977.
  3. Herbal Formulas for Rheumatoid Arthritis:
    • A systematic review of herbal medicines for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2018)
  4. Chinese Herbal Medicines for Osteoarthritis:
    • Effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine for patients with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Medicine (2020)
  5. Individual Chinese Herbs for Arthritis:
    • Efficacy and safety of willow bark extract in the treatment of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis: results of 2 randomized controlled trials.  Phytotherapy Research (2015)
    • The effects of Eucommia ulmoides Oliv. bark on cartilage development and inflammatory response in a mouse model of osteoarthritis. Phytotherapy Research (2018)

Migraine Chinese medicine acupuncture

acupuncture treatment for migraine and headacheMigraines are a type of headache disorder characterised by recurrent episodes of moderate to severe headaches. They can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and may be accompanied by various symptoms.


The exact cause of migraines is not fully understood. However, they are believed to involve a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors. Some common triggers for migraines include hormonal changes (such as during menstruation), certain foods or food additives, stress, lack of sleep, sensory stimuli (bright lights, loud noises), physical exertion, weather changes, and specific medications.


Migraine symptoms can vary from person to person and between episodes. They typically occur in phases and may include:

Headache: The headache phase is characterised by moderate to severe pulsating or throbbing pain, typically on one side of the head. The pain can last for a few hours to several days and may worsen with physical activity. It is often accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light (photophobia), and sensitivity to sound (phonophobia).

While migraines are commonly associated with severe headaches, acephalgic migraines are characterized by other migraine symptoms without the headache component. Some individuals may experience prodromal symptoms (early warning signs), aura, and postdromal symptoms, similar to migraines with headaches. Migraine without headache, also known as “acephalgic migraine” or “silent migraine

Prodrome: Some individuals experience warning signs before the onset of a migraine attack, such as mood changes, food cravings, increased thirst, or increased urination.

Aura (not always present): About one-fourth of migraine sufferers experience auras, which are usually visual disturbances that precede or accompany the headache. Auras can include seeing flashing lights, zigzag lines, or temporary vision loss. Other sensory disturbances or language difficulties may also occur.

Postdrome: Following the headache phase, individuals may experience a postdrome period, where they feel drained, fatigued, and may have difficulty concentrating or experience mood changes.


The treatment of migraines aims to relieve symptoms during an acute attack and prevent future episodes. Here are some common approaches:

Acute treatment: Over-the-counter pain relievers (such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen) can help relieve mild to moderate migraines. For more severe migraines, triptans (prescription medications) are often used to constrict blood vessels and alleviate pain. Anti-nausea medications may also be prescribed to manage associated symptoms.

Preventive treatment: If migraines are frequent or significantly impact daily life, preventive medications may be recommended. These medications include beta-blockers, antidepressants, antiepileptic drugs, and Botox injections. Lifestyle modifications, such as managing stress, maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding trigger factors, and adopting relaxation techniques, may also help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.

Complementary therapies: Some individuals find relief from migraines through complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or supplements. These approaches can be used alongside conventional treatments but should be discussed with a healthcare professional.

Acupuncture and migraine

acupuncture for migraine headacheAcupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body. It has been used for centuries to treat various conditions, including migraines. While the exact mechanism of how acupuncture works is not fully understood, it is believed to stimulate the nervous system, promote the release of certain chemicals in the body, and restore the balance of energy, known as Qi (pronounced “chee”).

Several studies have been conducted to evaluate its effectiveness of acupuncture for migraines. Based on the available evidence, acupuncture can be a valuable option for individuals with migraines. The treatment may help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines, alleviate associated symptoms, and improve overall well-being.

A review of 22 trials involving 4,985 people found that acupuncture reduced the frequency of migraine episodes. In trials where acupuncture was added to usual care, it resulted in a significant reduction in headache frequency compared to usual care alone. When acupuncture was compared to “Sham” acupuncture, the true acupuncture group had a higher rate of halving headache frequency.

Acupuncture was also found to be similarly effective as prophylactic drugs in reducing migraine frequency. Side effects were minimal, and dropout rates were lower compared to drug treatments.

(Cochrane, D. J. (2016). Acupuncture as a treatment for migraine: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 17(1), 1-9. )

Common acupuncture points used for migraine

In acupuncture, specific points on the body are selected for the treatment of migraines. The selection of acupuncture points can vary depending on the individual and the practitioner’s approach. However, here are some commonly used acupuncture points for migraines:

  1. Yintang (Extra Point): Located between the eyebrows, in the indentation where the bridge of the nose meets the forehead. This point is often used for headache relief, including migraines, and helps to calm the mind.
  2. Baihui (GV20): Located on the top of the head, in the midline, about halfway between the hairline and the top of the head. Baihui is believed to regulate the flow of Qi (energy) in the body and can be used for various conditions, including migraines.
  3. Taiyang (EX-HN5): Found in the temporal region, in the depression about one centimeter behind the midpoint between the outer corner of the eye and the top of the ear. This point is commonly used for headache relief, including migraines.
  4. Fengchi (GB20): Situated at the base of the skull, in the hollows between the two vertical neck muscles. GB20 is frequently used for headaches, including migraines, and
    acupuncture on hegu LI4 for migraine headache

    acupuncture on hegu LI4

    is believed to help relieve tension and promote the flow of Qi.

  5. Hegu (LI4): Located on the back of the hand, in the webbing between the thumb and index finger. Hegu is a versatile acupuncture point used for various conditions, including headaches and pain relief. It is believed to help regulate the flow of Qi and promote relaxation.

These are just a few examples of acupuncture points commonly used for migraines. A qualified registered acupuncturist will assess your condition, take into account your specific symptoms and overall health, and determine the most appropriate combination of acupuncture points for your individual needs.

Chinese herbal medicine and migraine

Chinese herbal medicine is a branch of traditional Chinese medicine that utilises various herbs and natural substances to promote health and address specific conditions, including migraines. The aim of Chinese herbal medicine is to restore balance and harmony within the body.

In the context of migraines, Chinese herbal medicine takes a holistic approach by considering the individual’s overall constitution and specific symptoms. Herbal formulas are typically customised to the person’s unique pattern of disharmony, which can vary from person to person. It’s important to consult with a qualified Chinese medicine practitioner who can conduct a thorough evaluation and recommend appropriate herbal treatments.

Commonly used herbs in Chinese herbal medicine for migraines:

  1. Chuan Xiong (Ligusticum chuanxiong): Known as Szechuan lovage root, Chuan Xiong is commonly used in Chinese herbal formulas for migraines. It is believed to promote blood circulation and relieve pain.
  2. Bai Zhi (Angelica dahurica): Also called Dahurian Angelica root, Bai Zhi is believed to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It is often used for migraines accompanied by sinus congestion or nasal congestion.
  3. Gao Ben (Ligusticum sinense): Gao Ben, also known as Chinese lovage root, is used in Chinese herbal medicine to alleviate migraines and relieve pain. It is thought to promote the circulation of Qi and blood.
  4. Bo He (Mentha haplocalyx): Bo He, or Chinese mint, has cooling properties and is often used in herbal formulas for migraines associated with heat or symptoms such as irritability and restlessness.
  5. Xia Ku Cao (Prunella vulgaris): Xia Ku Cao, also called Selfheal spike, is believed to have a calming and sedating effect. It is often used for migraines accompanied by dizziness or blurred vision.

It’s important to note that Chinese herbal medicine is a complex and specialised field. The selection and combination of herbs in a formula are tailored to the individual’s specific needs and may vary from person to person. The dosage and duration of treatment will also depend on various factors.

Each individual responses to acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine varies. If you suffer from migraines, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide a comprehensive evaluation, offer appropriate treatment options, and help you manage your condition effectively.

Almond Wellness Centre Coburg and Ringwood clinics

Almond Wellness Centre located in Victoria’s Coburg and Ringwood area, is a multidisciplinary clinic dedicated to promoting wellness. Whether you are in search of treatment for a particular health issue such as fertility IVF support or aiming to enhance your overall well-being, we are dedicated to delivering personalised care tailored to your needs. Our goal is to assist you in achieving your health objectives and supporting your journey towards optimal wellness.

As each person is different, if you or someone you care about is experiencing migraine headache and would like to explore the potential benefits of Chinese medicine acupuncture, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our fully qualified registered acupuncture Chinese medicine practitioners in both Coburg clinic and Ringwood clinic are here to provide information and assistance. We will assess your specific condition, take into account your medical history, and develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs.


Several research studies have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture for migraines. Here are a few notable studies:

  1. Linde, K., Allais, G., Brinkhaus, B., Manheimer, E., Vickers, A., & White, A. (2009). Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (1), CD001218. This systematic review analyzed data from 22 randomized controlled trials involving over 4,000 participants. The study concluded that acupuncture is effective in reducing the frequency of migraines compared to no treatment or routine care. However, the effect size was modest, and the long-term benefits and optimal treatment parameters remained uncertain.
  2. Cochrane, D. J. (2016). Acupuncture as a treatment for migraine: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The Journal of Headache and Pain, 17(1), 1-9. This meta-analysis examined 22 randomized controlled trials involving nearly 5,000 participants. The results suggested that acupuncture is superior to both sham acupuncture and conventional migraine treatments in reducing migraine frequency. However, the quality of evidence was generally low, and more high-quality studies were recommended.
  3. Wang, L. P., Zhang, X. Z., Guo, J., Liu, H. L., Zhang, Y., Liu, C. Z., & Wang, L. (2017). Efficacy of acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis: A single-blinded, double-dummy, randomized controlled trial. Pain, 158(10), 1864-1871. In this study, 249 participants were randomly assigned to receive acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or flunarizine (a conventional migraine prophylactic medication). The results showed that acupuncture was superior to sham acupuncture and had similar effectiveness to flunarizine in reducing migraine frequency and intensity.

It is important to note that while some studies have shown positive effects of acupuncture for migraines, the overall evidence is still considered limited and further high-quality research is needed to provide more conclusive findings.

More to read:

Why most acupuncture researches are low quality

Why double-blind, placebo-controlled trials for acupuncture are difficult even impossible 

Sham acupuncture is not real placebo