Updated: Jul 23
As the head is an area of concentration of Yang Qi, the pathology of headaches or migraine can be reduced to four very simple and basic condition fo excess yang, deficiency of Yang, excess of Yin and deficiency of Yin.
Example of Excess of Yang are Liver-Yangrising and Liver- Fire, examples of Deficiency of Yang are
Sotmach- Qi deficiency, Kidney-Yang deficiency and Spleen Qi deficiency; examples of an excess of Yin are dampness and phlegm; and examples of deficiency of Yin are a liver-blood deficiency and Kidney-Yin deficiency
Is has two different meanings:
It may indicate an actual excess of Yang Qi in the head ( such as in Liver Fire) or an excessive rising of Yang to the head (as in Liver Yang rising). It is important not to confuse these two separate conditions.
In fact, the difference between Liver-Fire and Liver - yang rising is a good illustration of this difference. With Liver-Fire, there is an actual Excess of Yang, I.g. Fire (full heat). This manifests with a red face, a feeling of heat in the face, intense thirst, a bitter taste in the mouth and irritability. This is a condition of Full Heat that much be drained with bitter-cold herbs. Liver-Fire is a type of Full Heat, and it has the tendency to dry the body fluid, it may cause bleeding and is strong affects the mind.
Liver-yang rising, by contracts, is not a condition of FUll Heat bu simply an imbalance of Qi with Qi and Yang rising excessively towards the head. Although there are re symptoms of Heat due to the rise of Yang to the head ( red face), it is neither a Full condition nor a condition of FUll Heat. there is a very important difference between the herbal treatment of Liver Fire and that of Liver Yang rising: while the former is treated by draining fire with bitter cold herns ( Huang Qin Radix Scutellariae and Long Fan Cao Radix Gentiana), the latter is treated bu subduing Yang using herbs that sink Qi (Shi Jue Ming Concha Haliotidis and Mu Li COncha Osdtreae).
Liver-Fire is a condition of Full Heat ( thirst, bitter taste, feeling of heat, red face red eyes, dark urine, dry stools); Liver-yang rising is purely an imbalance between Yin and Yang with the excessive rising of Yang Qi to the head.
The headache from an excess of Yang is therefore due to stagnation of Yang Qi in the head: Qi cannot circulate and this causes head pain. The headache from an excess of Yang is by definition intense and usually throbbing.
Deficiency of Yang
With a deficiency of Yang, there is the opposite situation, i.e. not enough clear Yang reaches the head. Under normal circumstances, clear Yang Qi flows up to the head, brightening the orifices of the head (ears, nose, mouth, eyes and the mind). The rising of clear Yang to the head is also very important to the constant clearing of potential Yin pathogenic factors from the head.
The physiological rise of clear Yang to the head is facilitated by the fact that, superficially, the head contains only Yang channels. The most common examples of deficient Yang not rising to the head are Stomach Qi or Kidney Yang not reaching the head. stomach -Qi deficiency will cause a frontal headache, while Kidney-Yang will cause an occipital headache.
The headache from deficiency is by definition dull and mild.
Excess of Yin
As we have seen, although Yi Qi does reach the head indirectly through the divergent channels, superficially there are only Uang channels on the head. This is not coincidental, as clear Yang Qi needs to rise to the head to brighten he orifices. Accumulation of Excess Ying in the head will have the effect of preventing the rising of clear Yang and will, therefore, lead to clouding of the orifices.
“Clouding of the orifices’ will result in blurred vision dizziness, a blocked nose, a stick taste, tinnitus and a feeling of mussiness (fuzziness) and heaviness o the head. The two most common pathogenic factors that lead to and excess of Yin in the head are dampness and phlegm. The headache from an excess of yin is full but intense.
Deficiency of Yin
As the head is an area of confluence of Yang channels, the rise of clear Yang to the head necessarily occurs, so a deficiency of Yin is not a common cause of headaches. However, as blood is part of Yin, a deficiency of blood, which is a relatively common cause of headaches, is also a type of deficiency of Yin. A deficiency of liver or heart blood is a common cause of headaches.
Other examples of deficiency of Yin leading to headaches or migraine are deficiency of kidney yin or of kidney essence. The headache from yin deficiency is dull mild.