Headaches are a common phenomenon for people in general, but it is also a common symptom around period time as well.  It comes as regularly as a period and generally around the same time of the month.  As stated previously, most PMS Headaches are due to either stagnation or deficiency in the body.  Stagnation means that things aren’t flowing well, the body and the mind become stuck.  And yes, this can be a cause of headaches. These symptoms are usually present just before or at the start of a period. Deficiency generally means the loss of blood during the period has left your body without enough blood, and this can cause PMS headaches too.

Here are the most common differentiations of headaches around period time.



Liver Fire Blazing Liver Yang Rising Blood Stasis
Headache Quality Dull, on vertex of head Severe, throbbing in temples, eyes or sides of head Throbbing in temples, eyes, or sides of head Stabbing in temples, eyes or sides of head
Headache Time During/after period Before/during period Before/during period Before period
Other Symptoms Dizziness, heart palpitations, insomnia, blurred vision, tiredness, dull-pale complexion, pale and thin tongue, choppy or fine pulse Heavy period flow, dizziness, flashes in eyes, bitter taste, thirst, red face, dry stools, dark urine, irritability, red tongue with yellow coating, wiry and rapid pulse Irritability, dizziness, flashes in eyes, low back pain, the tongue is unchanged or pale, pulse is either wiry, or wiry on the left and fine on the right. Dark menstrual blood with clots, painful periods, abdominal pain, purple tongue, wiry or choppy pulse
Patent Formulas Ba Zhen Wan Long Dan Xie Gan Wan Tian Ma Gou Teng Yin, Qi Ju Di Huang Wan, Jiang Ya Wan Yan Hu Suo Zhi Tong Pian, Jin Gu Die Shang Wan, Yun Nan Te Chan Tian Qi Pian, Tong Jing Wan
Avoid Coffee, tea, overworking Sour foods such as vinegar, orange juice, grapefruit juice, pickles, red currants, yoghurt, coffee, tea Coffee, tea
What to Eat Eating for Deficiency Eating for Excess

Also, doing acupressure on LI 4 is often beneficial

You might notice that there are a lot of similarities between the symptoms of Liver Fire Blazing and Liver Yang Rising.  This is because there are two different root causes that result in the same symptoms.  These can be constitutional (you’re born with the tendency towards the type), or due to thought patterns.  Liver Fire Blazing stems from an excess condition, often because of anger, repressed anger, resentment, or frustration leads directly to the stagnation.  Liver Yang Rising is due to an underlying deficiency, often also brought on by emotional strain and that deficiency subsequently causes a stagnation and a flaring up of fire.  Basically, the body doesn’t have the energy to move the Qi and Blood in the body, which causes the stagnation.

Telling the difference between these two symptoms lies in looking at the tongue and pulse.

Liver Fire Blazing Liver Yang Rising
Tongue Red, yellow coating Unchanged, pale
Pulse Wiry, rapid Wiry, or wiry on left and thin on right


Chronic and recurrent headaches are, well, a real pain!  But they can be treated, and you can do most of it quite easily at home and with an herbal remedy.  If you are unsure about what type of headache you might have, or if you have any other questions please contact us, or your local Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner.


Caroline Prodoehl, R.Ac, R.TCMP



Maciocia, Giovanni (1998).  Obstetrics & Gynecology in Chinese Medicine.  Churchill Livingstone.  New York, New York.


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