Pulse of Oriental Medicine: Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks
Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks

Updated July 1, 2003








Acupressure for Eye Headaches
by Brian Benjamin Carter, MSci, LAc

I have had a headache since early this morning. I have been eating well, drinking less, taking my allergy medicine and doing yoga in morning or evening almost every day and I can't get rid of this headache. I usually don't like to take headache meds, but it hurts so bad. I took an 800 mg Ibuprofen at lunch and still have a headache. Ugh! Help me!!!! :-)


Is it unlike any headache you've ever had? Have you eaten anything different in the last 3 days? Is it throbbing? One sided? Located on what part(s) of your head? Associated with nausea? Or visual changes? Related to stress and neck tension?


Not something I've never had happen before. Only had a couple that I couldn't shake like this. Not really anything different the past 3 days to eat. Dull pain. Mainly forehead between and around eyes. Seems like a sinus thing, but won't go away. Probably related to work stress, as I have had lots the past couple of days. No nausea or visual changes.


Ruling Out Serious Headache Causes

Good. I was asking to see if it were migraine, tension headache, or something more serious. Migraines, though they can present in many ways, are usually one sided, throbbing, and related to nausea. Visual changes can be migraine or something more serious. A headache unlike any other you've had before should be investigated to rule out serious conditions. We should always rule out the most serious problems first before treating anything with alternative therapies.

It doesn't appear to be any of those- perhaps a combination of sinus and tension headaches. The best thing, of course, is to go see an acupuncturist/ herbalist yourself, but since that's not possible, acupressure may help you.

Location of the Headache

The location of the headache tells us what channels are involved. The channels that run to the eyes there are Bladder and Stomach. When the qi ascends or gets stagnant in those channels, you can get eye pain and other eye symptoms.

Acupressure for Headaches

Acupuncture would be best for short-term relief, but since you don't have access to an acupuncturist, you can do acupressure yourself on the same points. It's not exactly the same as acupuncture, but with enough stimulation, you can still get some results.

When massaging the following points, try to get an achey dull sensation and massage them vigorously for 30 seconds each at least - 2 minutes is even better. Use your thumb, or the second knuckle on your index finger.

Acupressure Points for Eye Headaches

Here are some acupressure points to try for this problem. See the free acupressure chart - if it's not on the chart, buy my book!

On your hands:

  • Large Intestine 4: between the thumb and forefinger in the muscle that flexes when you press thumb and index fingers together - this point affects the face and moves stagnant qi
  • Large Intestine 3: same area but closer to index finger on that muscle
  • Small Intestine 3: opposite side of hand, just on hand from little finger- on the side not on palm or dorsum of hand

On your feet:

  • Bladder 65: on outside of foot just behind the end of the little toe (not toward the tip but toward the arch) - basically the same location as SI3 but on the foot
  • Bladder 63: on outside of the foot below ankle and diagonally down and forward toward little toe- find hole with sensitive spot
  • Stomach 43 or 44: between tendons of second and third toe (big toe is first toe) but on foot, in crease between toes, and further up foot- again feel for sensitive spot

Also if some of the points on the back of the hand between the tendons of your fingers are sensitive, massage them, too. Usually, the most sore point is the most effective one. Massage it anyway, as much as you can stand. No pain, no gain. A little pain temporarily will result in overall pain relief.

Sinus Headaches

For sinus problems, your allergy meds should help. If this is a chronic problem, try getting a sinus rinse, or snorting salt water to keep them clear. Of course, for very serious sinus infections, antibiotics are helpful. But in the case of low grade chronic ones, constant antibiotic use can lead to intestinal imbalances and serious digestive system conditions.

So it's best to keep the sinuses clear, and avoid whatever makes them worse - this could be smoking, second hand smoke, "sick" houses and buildings (fungus and mold in the air), animal allergies, and seasonal allergens. If you're better outside and can't change your house or workplace, get a good air purifier, and ventilate the area fequently. Try some Lysol.

Preventing Bladder & Stomach Meridian Headaches

We should consider the possible causes so as to keep the headache from returning. We've already talked about sinus congestion and infections. Other things that can cause qi stagnation in the Bladder and Stomach channels around the eyes are bad dietary habits, alcohol, and excessive emotions. Try to eat easily digestible foods, avoid greasy fried foods, cut back or eliminate alcohol.

Do whatever you can to have a more serene life experience. See this article for suggestions on emotional health. Also: Stay away from toxic/negative people. Find balance and equanimity by relying on God and reducing unreasonable demands on people and situations. Take responsibility for your own fears and selfishness, and attempt to eliminate them by practicing courage and thinking of what you can do for others. It may seem unrelated, but it isn't. Following this advice will lead to serenity, contentment, and calm, which will allow the qi to flow properly, and your immune system to work optimally.

You can also see an herbalist for Chinese herbal formulas that will balance your particular imbalances. This will reduce your "pre-headache load," so to speak - that is, it will reduce the factors that build up to lead to a headache.

The Last Ditch

If all else fails in the meantime, Excedrin migraine is pretty effective, though try to stay away from too much acetaminophen (one of the ingredients) since in large amounts it can lead to liver failure.

Hope that helps!

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All information herein provided is for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of appropriate local experts and authorities.

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