Holistic Physiotherapy and Traditional Chinese Medicine

Fixing Headache, tensional migraines, neck stiffness, nausea & dizziness by caring for your liver

When people undergo a holistic physiotherapy evaluation, one of the important questions our expert specialist Aline Tisato asks is whether they have headaches or migraines, when they occur, how they manifest, where it hurts and what time of the day they happen?

For many, it may sound a little intense to ask so many questions, but after being treated by Aline, they start to understand that the headache is a symptom, the cause of which is not necessarily in the head.

When a person is in the middle of a headache or migraine crisis, they want to get out of the pain. Still, when these crises become chronic and recurrent, they should be diagnosed and treated according to their individual conditions. Hence, it’s important to track and understand how the progression of the headache happens.

Since pain is an alarm in the body that something is not right, finding its source is the only way to find a cure or the way to manage how the body is reacting and to what.

5 Elements

Each of the Yin and Yang organ partnerships corresponds to an element:

  • Liver and Gallbladder = Wood element
  • Heart and Small Intestine = Fire element
  • Spleen and Stomach = Earth element
  • Lung and Large Intestine = Metal element
  • Kidney and Urinary Bladder = Water element

All of the elements are in relationship to each other, and when a specialist in Chinese Medicine is making a diagnosis and treating a person, they will not immediately assume the imbalance is coming from the organ that is showing signs of manifesting the issue but will also look at the corresponding organ and element that may be masking the problem.

Regulation of blood

The Liver

This organ in Chinese Medicine is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi in the body and mind. When Qi’s flow is uninterrupted, your emotional and physical state of being is in balance, your organs can function well, and your health is good.  You are in a place of harmony.

Like the director or an army general in the body, the liver is the origin of our courage, determination, and direction in how we advance in our lives.  If you have a healthy liver, you can make good decisions, be in control, calm and confident.  If you have a stagnant liver or depleted, you can be depressed, angry, impatient and very stressed.  You be the judge!  How’s your liver?

Liver depletion

Chinese Medicine approach

When we have a “ liver depletion”, a Chinese medicine diagnostic, we manifest its symptoms with stagnating energy flow mainly on its partner organ, the Shao Yang (Gall Bladder acupuncture channel), which manifests on the shoulder blades, neck and head section. This impairs blood supply greatly to this area, causing stiffness, dizziness, headaches, and migraines in more severe cases. This common pattern also affects the Yang Ming flow (Stomach acupuncture channel), which, when in a normal state, assists digestion downwards but in this case, rebels upwards, causing nausea or weakens the Tai Yin (Spleen acupuncture channel) ability to hold the organs in place, producing bloating.

As we discussed earlier, you may be having symptoms such as nausea corresponding with your headaches which you may think is your stomach, but this might be the liver’s reaction.

Storing blood and restoring energy

Wood elements of the body

One of the other major functions of the liver is to regulate blood flow and store the blood when we are sleeping or resting so we can restore energy.

So when we wake, the blood flows out of the liver and nourishes all of the body’s sinews, the tendons, muscles and even our nails.  If you think about it, these parts resemble the wood element that the liver and gallbladder correspond to in Chinese Medicine.

When Aline examines her patients, one of the indicators she uses to check their liver’s health is to test the fibres of the tendons and muscles.  She will also look at your nails to see if they are brittle and ask about your vision as the liver is the connection to nourish the eyes; she will also check the skin colour on your face and tongue as a pale pallor will indicate poor blood circulation and liver function.

Why this affects women

Hormones and headaches

Another important role that the liver has is to process hormones.  It does not make hormones but instead balances direct and regulates them to ensure they can carry out their functions in the body, and once they are done to make sure that they are metabolised efficiently.

Women go through life in a constant state of hormonal changes, and for that, we use up lots of liver energy. Needless to say that depending on the person’s constitution, it can be more demanding on the liver than others. It is important to consider that, independently of the constitution, issues such as stress and repressed emotions are also biggies when talking about the liver’s health and hormones!

When women menstruate, they lose blood and the Chi energy or ‘life force’, which gradually, through life, depletes essence or Jing, which is the body itself and the body fluids. Men deplete essence through overwork, stress and ejaculation.

When there are excessive hormonal changes, especially during the time of menstruation, the teen years and perimenopause, this can overload the liver, which, when depleted, cannot process the hormones quick or efficiently enough.  Some women can suffer from the symptoms of liver deficiency in all of their lives.

Western holistic physiotherapy and Eastern Chinese Medicine

How it manifests

The signs of liver deficiency in women include a pale face, lips and tongue, stiffness in the neck and shoulder blades, and head.  Also, brain fog, stagnation in the gut, including bloating and the feeling, is very delicate and headaches.

The liver is weak and is unable to nourish the Yin.

Reoccurring pain

Many people may wake without a headache, but as soon as the liver’s partner organ, the gallbladder, begins, it’s a job for the day and starts to circulate the blood upwards towards the head. You do not have enough Yin to support this function, you end up again with a headache or migraine, and the cycle begins again.

How WE can fix it

Holistic physiotherapist Aline Tisato has spent more than 28 years studying, practising and developing her own method (called IGung) of treating people who are suffering from issues relating to the function of the liver, especially for women and those who have chronic problems with headaches, tensional migraines, neck stiffness, nausea & dizziness.

By teaching you to understand how you can use a combination of exercise, self-massage, breath and mindfulness, Aline can give you tools to recalibrate, balance and recover the liver.

Her approach is holistic.  Using her extended knowledge of the physical body as a trained Western medical practitioner with her deep understanding of Chinese, medicine, she can guide you through a series of treatments that will give you tools that you will have for the rest of your life to maintain a healthy body and liver.

Case Study

Carmen Lopez,  Female, 29 – Researcher
Symptoms:  chronic- headache, nausea and dizziness

Carmen came to Aline complaining of middle back pain, which would come and go, and chronic headaches associated with neck stiffness that was affecting her quality of life. 

She explained to her that sometimes she would also feel nauseated and other times dizzy. 

The medication she had been prescribed so far was not doing the job, and the stretches that conventional physiotherapists made her do, would make her symptoms even worse most of the time. 

Through evaluation, Aline could see Carmen was very anxious, her breath was very short, and her Chi was clogged in her abdominal cavity.  She also went straight to check her Liver Back Shu Point, right below the bra line, beside the vertebrae, since this is a widespread tight area in many women who come to her with similar symptoms. 

This blockage informed Aline that Carmen’s problem wasn’t really her back but a liver depletion, also manifesting stagnation in the Shao Yang (Gall Bladder channel of the Mai System) on the neck and head, impairing the blood supply greatly to this area, causing the stiffness, dizziness and the headaches. This is a common pattern that also affects the Yang Ming flow (Stomach channel of the Mai System), which, when in a normal state, assists digestion downwards but in this case reverts its flow, producing nausea.

Due to her particular pattern, Aline started the treatment by teaching Carmen how to do the 2nd IGung movement, combined with the stimulation of some specific Back Shu points using a tennis ball. 

Following that, she taught her the 1st IGung move combined with the stimulation of some specific Front Mu points to help unclog the abdominal cavity and connect and distribute the Chi throughout the legs.

That also started to loosen up her Chi and released her breath and overall stiffness. From there, they moved on to how to stimulate the free flow of some specific points in the arms and hands using IGung’s 3rd exercise – Reach for the Sky, which set up the ground to finish off with the IGung’s 5th movement – Open the Frame, which opened up congestion in the shoulder blades, neck and head, and she felt much better immediately. 

Carmen repeated the sequence every day in the morning and before bed and reported that she had a headache just once during a very stressful day at work through the following two weeks. 

In the following three sessions, we finished the whole IGung set, and she expressed great gratitude saying she never felt dizzy and nauseated and that the headaches had virtually gone. 

Aline is available for consultations both in Barcelona or online.  Contact us.
If you would like a 15-minute complimentary consultation with Aline, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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