A Natural Remedy Of Headaches

A natural remedy of headaches

When WellBeing reader Megan Sheey started suffering from regular headaches, exhaustion and memory loss, she thought she was at a dead end. That is until her pain led her somewhere she never thought she would find herself.

Every morning I’d lie in my darkened room and feel for the headache. Maybe today it was gone? It wasn’t. I’d force my drained limbs out of bed for basic maintenance: shower, eat, let my family know I hadn’t died.

Along with the headaches came brain fog, memory loss, extreme fatigue, shaking hands and a profound sense of grief. Everything hurt. For weeks, I dragged myself to the GP for tests, only to be told that adrenal fatigue wasn’t a diagnosable condition. I could barely support the weight of my own head as I was prescribed “just rest” and told to find a new psychologist. I was at a dead end.

I’m not sure where the idea of Eastern medicine came from, but it seemed like something to try. Or, at least, the only thing left to try. I went down a Google wormhole to learn everything I could about acupuncture. I wanted my dive into Eastern medicine to be somehow “proven” by Western medicine. I enlisted the help of my scientist sister to decipher all the journal articles. She reported back that the evidence was strong: acupuncture could help chronic headaches. I booked an appointment immediately.

The night before the appointment, I sleep fitfully, waking at 4am. I imagine myself lying face down on a massage table as someone puts hundreds of needles in my head and back. Would they put them in my face? Would I have tiny little holes visible afterwards? Do I wear clothes or am I naked?

I haul myself out of bed in the morning and decide to drive the 500 metres to the clinic so I can get home OK if I end up with face holes. Inside the wooden-clad little shopfront, sandalwood fills the air, giving the space a thick sense of tranquillity. I take a seat on one of two leather chairs by the doorway. Further down the foyer is a small, antique reception desk and a wall lined with glass jars full of herbs I don’t recognise. I eye off the generic Buddha statue photos on the wall and remind myself it will be over soon.

When Jeremy emerges, I recognise his floppy hair and glasses from the clinic’s website. He invites me into one of the rooms. We’re going to discuss everything, he says, before he does any treatment. I relax a little, relieved the needles are delayed for now. He asks me a barrage of questions and I tell him about waking up at 4am, the dark brown colour of my stool, the vivid dream I’ve been having of being chased, my out of whack period cycle, having cold fingers and toes and how often my stomach rumbles after I’ve eaten. He looks at my eyes and my tongue and rests a pillow on my lap as he attentively checks my pulse on each wrist.

“Where do you feel the pain?” he asks. “From my temples, down into my mouth,” I say. “But when I try to feel the pain intentionally, it doesn’t really hurt. It just feels like tension or pressure. Constant, unforgiving.”

Jeremy explains the imbalances he sees and asks me to set up; on my back (phew) and I should leave my top on (double phew); he just needs access to my arms and stomach. “So today”, he begins, “we’re going to focus mainly on relieving your headache. That means placing some needles in your legs. Then we’ll work on the exhaustion by beginning to improve the way your body digests food.”

As he places the first needle in my right arm I look away as if he is taking blood. It goes in with a brief sharp scratch. Okay, that wasn’t bad at all. He carefully places about eight other needles in my legs, feet and stomach and places a heat lamp over me. “Now I’m going to leave you for about 40 minutes. If anything doesn’t feel right, I’m just outside.”

At first I feel nothing. Just another “woo-woo” placebo, I guess. But then pulsing swirls of green and white dots appear before my eyes and I begin to feel energy in my body, like a giant sugar rush. My muscles contract from my jaw through to my toes and I clench my fists slightly.

The feeling builds over about 10 seconds until it departs just as suddenly. What the hell was that? The green swirls widen and I start to feel relaxed. But then it builds again, pulsating through me. It almost feels erotic. Is this normal? Am I meant to feel this?

The pulsing feeling cycles through me for about 20 minutes and then settles. I feel relaxed and slightly giddy and can’t stop smiling. Soon, Jeremy re-enters the room, turns the heat lamp off and removes the eye mask. “How are you feeling?” “Wow,” I reply, “that was intense.” He explains that sometimes having acupuncture for the first time can shift energy that is stuck in the body. He giggles at my explanation of the green swirls and pulsating energy. “That’s exactly what is meant to happen, but it’s rare for someone to feel it that intensely.”

I pay him, book my next appointment and stumble out into the street like a day drinker. I get into my car and sit in the driver’s seat for a few minutes. No face holes, I giggle to myself. I start the engine. For the first time in a year, I don’t have a headache.

Georgia Nelson

Georgia Nelson

Georgia Nelson is a journalist based on the South Coast of NSW, currently acting as the deputy editor at EatWell, and the features writer at WellBeing and WILD. She has a penchant for sustainable beauty, slow fashion and feminist literature.

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