Abdominal acupuncture used to treat a headache and sinus problem

Full of Phlegm!

Phyllis was a busy self employed designer who was suffering with recurring frontal, foot Yangming (Stomach) area headaches which affected her sinus’s and on occasion also caused her to have ringing in her ears. It was usually worse in the winter and with the onset of an acute bout of this chronic phlegm build up, she would experience blocked sinus and / or runny nose, painful or itchy cheeks and an ongoing persistent headache. She would often get an accompanying cough with these ongoing events and she had digestive problems including bloating and constipation. These problems had been going on for a number of years and she regularly had to take a course of antibiotics to clear the mucus. 

It was mid summer when Phyllis came for acupuncture she had a frontal headache that would often affect the vertex of her head also, her cheeks were itchy, she had excessive mucus and was breathing mainly through her mouth, her ears were also ringing with a constant high pitch. Her sleep was good and her energy levels were ranked at 8:10. She smoked one or two joints of weed or hash per day.

First abdominal treatment

Her main concerns were the mucus build up in her sinus and the unrelenting headache, as described above, she also had a constant ringing in her ears and sluggish bowels. Abdominal palpation revealed very fine superficial ahshi points at Ren 12 (Zhongwan), and superior and lateral to it, which I felt reflected her sinus, ear and vertex problems around Du 20 (Bahui). She was a little sensitive about and hated anyone touching her navel so I decided not to use the Lotus Flower. I had her give each area of discomfort a reference point score of 10 out of 10, which would act as an accurate barometer to assess her changes as the treatment progressed.  

The prescription used was "Heaven & Earth" Ren 12 (Zhongwan) and Ren 4 (Guanyuan), Kid 17 (Shangqu), St 24 Shoulder (Huaroumen) and abdominal Lu1, bilaterally with "Harmonising the Middle Jiao" St 25 (Tianshu) & Sp 15 (Daheng). I also used superficial needles to treat the ears and vertex pain, these were located at Ren 12.5 and the ear points I used can be seen in the illustration Fig 1.

My intention was to move Yangming Qi up into the head using Ren 12 (Zhongwan), to clear the sinus’s, resolve phlegm, improve digestion and reduce any further phlegm production. Abdominal Lung 1 is located 0.2cun inferior and medial to St 24 Shoulder (Huaroumen) and is always needled very superficially, this together with St 25 (TianShu) (front Mu point of the Large Intestine) would help to clear the phlegm and improve the Lung function. 

After a thirty minute treatment, during which I encouraged her to focus on breathing through her nose, she felt that the sinus and headache had improved by 70-80% i.e. the reference score was now at 2 or 3:10. She left feeling invigorated and encouraged by the fast action of the treatment. I reminded her to observe her breathing and to correct the mouth breathing with nose breathing when she could. 

Fig 1 Illustration of the prescription used for the first treatment.

Second abdominal treatment

I saw Phyllis three days later, during this interval, she had no sinus pain or headache (0:10) until about two hours before her appointment when she could feel some mucus build up and she could feel a tension type headache in her forehead. Her ears were still ringing, but this didn’t seem to be as annoying and her digestion was much better, she was sleeping well and she said she had observed how often she was mouth breathing, which she was diligently trying to correct!

I asked to check into her her pain and to firstly give it a comparative score to what it had been when she first came in and she felt that it was now at 30% for the sinus, the area of the headache was dramatically reduced and was now only in the forehead and was 40% of what it had been while the ears were at 80% of the previous score and her digestion was perfect. 

I then asked her to once again give these areas a base reference point score of 10 out of 10 as the discomfort, mucus and / or pain was at that moment in time.

The prescription this time was similar to the previous session but I dropped St 24 Shoulder (Huaroumen) and the two ear ahshi points and exchanged these for Kid 13 (Qixue) to help nourish essence and send it from the Kidney’s to her head and benefit her ears. 

When she left she had no headache and her sinus mucus level was now at 3:10. 


One week later I saw Phyllis one more time and she had no more headaches or phlegm and her digestion was working well. Her ears were still at ringing, but the intensity and duration seemed to have reduced to a more bearable levels of 60-70% of what it had been. I recommended that she changed her smoking habit, she smoked tobacco joints which obviously impeded her lung function and the hot nature of the cannabis (herb) would also congeal the mucus making it more problematic! She assured me that she would consider this!     

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