Headaches and the Liver


In traditional Chinese medicine the head is the place where all yang meridians meet. Yang is the hot, fiery, external, upward and outward energy of the body. In addition to this, the qi, blood, and energy of the organs all flow up towards the head. Anything that affects the flow of qi and blood to the head can trigger a headache.

Commonly, headaches are caused by an excess of something. Sometimes, that excess could be because of an underlying deficiency.


Liver Qi Stagnation Headache

The number one underlying cause of headaches is liver qi stagnation. This means that the energy of the liver becomes stuck. Usually, this is caused by the inability to express anger, emotions, or irritability. Typically liver related headaches run along the temples. This is because the gall bladder meridian, which is closely connected with the liver, travels through this area.


Blood Deficiency or Stagnation Headache

If the liver qi stagnation is prolonged it can develop into something else. Sometimes it could be blood deficiency or blood stagnation.

People who experience blood stagnation headaches typically have stabbing pain in one location of the head, clots in menstrual blood, cramping and a purple tongue.If these symptoms occur and are more severe after menstruation, this could be blood deficiency. However, if these symptoms are not around your period, it’s likely to be a blood stagnation.


Kidney Deficiency Headache

Another cause of headaches is kidney deficiency. This is common with adrenal fatigue. For instance, when someone overworks themselves all week, the weekend comes and they crash. The bladder meridian, which is associated with the kidney meridian, runs along the back of the neck. This is the origin of headaches caused by kidney deficiency.

Spleen dampness displays some similar symptoms with a few others that help to differentiate between kidney deficiency and spleen dampness. People typically have a buildup of phlegm and feel like they have a cloudy head. Their head could feel heavy and it could be hard to make decisions. This is sometimes described as a wet towel around the head. You could experience digestive issues in addition to loose stools.


So, What Can You Do?

Along with regular acupuncture treatments, what else is there?

  • Change your diet: Diet plays a huge role in how you feel. Avoid dairy, refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods. In addition, try eating liver tonifying foods. Some of these include dark leafy greens, seeds, lightly cooked vegetables, fresh herbs, oats, barley, brown rice, organic meats, legumes and beans. This can make a big difference in moving the blood and qi.


  • Exercise: Moving your body effectively moves the energy, helping to get your blood and qi back to normal. You can walk, do yoga, cycle, swim. Any kind of exercise you enjoy. *If you’re experiencing blood deficiency, do not exercise! Instead rest more often and go to the beach, or sit outside.


  • Get lots of quality sleep: In addition, plan to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night (without electronics distracting you in bed). Above all, a lack of sleep increases stress on your body. As a result, this increases your likelihood of headaches.


  • Meditation: Unplugging ourselves and focusing our attention on relaxation lowers stress levels. As a result, this helps move our blood and qi.


  • Herbal Medicine: In conclusion, using Chinese herbs, we tailor a custom formula that targets your symptoms. This combined with everything above can significantly reduce or completely get rid of headaches.


You can book an Initial Acupuncture Assessment to discuss your headache symptoms and create a treatment plan here.


Did you like this post? Read more here.