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Wind-heat Headaches & the Chinese Remedies

Headache pattern: acute onset, headaches with a distending or splitting sensation, alleviated by cold air, triggered or aggravated in high temperatures, and more frequent during summer.

Accompanied symptoms: fever, aversion to wind blowing, bloodshot eyes, flushed face, throat soreness, mouth dryness, constipation, yellowish urine, a red tongue, thin-yellow tongue coating, and the pulse is floating and rapid.

Analysis: external wind-heat, summer-heat or fire pathogens tend to invade the upper body through the skin, mouth or nose, they disturb the head orifices, and lead to headaches with a distending or splitting sensation, and also cause flushed face and bloodshot eyes. TCM regards the throat as the gate of the lungs, which is most vulnerable to external pathogens, heat irritation causes throat soreness. The fever and aversion to wind blowing indicate that the defense system of lung is fighting against the pathogens. Abundant heat consumes the body fluids, which lead to mouth dryness, constipation and yellowish urine. The tongue and the pulse also indicate that the body has abundant wind-heat pathogens. This type of headache is usually seen in people with a strong physique, or those with wind-cold headaches that have not been treated properly.

Therapeutic principle: dispel wind and clear heat

Sample prescription: Sichuan Lovage, Dahurian Angelica and Gypsum Decoction

In the prescription, the Sichuan lovage and Dahurian angelica root dispel wind and stop pain, the chrysanthemum and gypsum dispel wind and clear heat. All of them serve as the main herbs. The Sichuan lovage, Dahurian angelica root, notopterygium root and Jehol ligustium rhizome specialize in relieving headache pain, but they are too pungent and warm in properties, chrysanthemum and gypsum are combined to modulate their harsh properties and make the remedy cooler, so as to fit for wind-heat headaches.

Jehol ligustium rhizome
Kudzu root

Some modifications can be made according to the specific symptoms.

Apparent fever, flushed face, bloodshot eyes and sore throat indicate that the remedy should reinforce the heat clearing effect. Remove the notopterygium root and Jehol ligustium rhizome from the prescription, and replace with:

huang qin baical skullcap root Radix Scutellariae
bo he peppermint Herba Manthae

Apparent fever alone, extra herbs for clearing heat and toxic are needed:

jin yih hua honeysuckle flower Flos Lonicerae
lian qiao weeping forsythia capsule Fructus Forsythiae

Apparent aversion to wind blowing alone, extra wind dispelling herbs are needed:

jing jie schizonepeta herb herba Schizonepetae
fang feng ledebouriella root Radix Ledebouriellae

When the headaches occur during summer, and accompanied by heavy head, irritability, fatigue, and yellow greasy tongue coating. The remedy should also clear summer-heat with fresh herbs like:

pei lan fortune eupatorium herb Herba Eupatorii
he ye lotus leaf Folium Nelumbinis

In case if there is impairment of body fluids that presents with thirst, apparent mouth dryness, and a red tongue, the remedy should add extra herbs to promote the production of body fluids.

lu gen reed rhizome Rhizoma Phragmitis
xuan shen figwort root Radix Scrophulariae
tian hua fen snakegourd root Radix Trichosanthis

Constipation, bad breath and mouth sores indicate that the problem has further developed, the large intestine is over-heated. Extra herbs are selected to purge the heat through defecation.

zhi zi gardenia fruit Fructus Gardeniae
da huang Chinese rhubarb Radix et Rhizoma Rhei