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Headaches – Anatomy

All types of headaches originate from the outermost layer of the head, no pain receptors are located within the brain itself and therefore all headaches originate in organs that are more superficial than the brain. Places such as the meningitis, scalp, shabby “hybrid” between muscle and skin, the nerve-rich teleceptors (the various sensory organs), sinuses, nasal, and oral cavity (including dental).

The pain’s origin is often drastically different from the way it is perceived and reported by the patient. A toothache may be perceived headache, patients experiencing pain resulting from pressure of the blood vessels in the scalp often describe the pain they feel as “inside the head”, eye problems, localized headaches and so on.

Most types of headache are due to mechanical pressure on one or more areas of the face and head, but there are also some pains resulting from muscular atrophy or fatigue. Vision problems sometimes cause neural inflammation which is experienced as pain as well.

Western diseases that cause headaches:

  • Migraines
  • Blocked or inflamed sinuses
  • Dental problems
  • Ear Problems
  • Eye and vision problems
  • orthopedic pain in the neck and base of the skull
  • metabolic abnormalities (most-frequently dehydration)
  • meningitis
  • internal or external bleeding cranial
  • injuries with or without injury in CSF
  • inflammation of nerves in the head and neck

Chinese syndromes involving headaches

Headache may result from external pathogen (wind), qi stagnation, Yang rising, deficiencies or material deficiencies  with or without  dampness that reaches the head.

In harmony the yang the head is supposed to contain is considered “clear Yang”,  a rather vague concept of harmony between Qi and blood fluid allows mental activity. Almost any disharmony in the body therefore may harm the harmony. For example:

  • lack or stagnation of Qi (SP, ST, LU, the heart or the liver)
  • lack or stagnation of blood
  • Increase of heat (fire) from the liver
  • Dampness originating in the spleen
  • Substance deficiency in the kidney (Yin, Yang, Jing and liquids).
  • Wind,  hot, cold or humid


Diagnosis according to location:

Occiput: wind chill, stagnation of the liver qi, kidney deficiency

Vertex: the rise of liver qi, severe substance deficiency, liver blood deficiency

Sides of the head (temporal): stagnation in the gallbladder,  liver yang rising, liver stagnation wind Shao Yang (GB)

Frontal: dampness. Especially in the stomach, fire (heat) or deficiency in the stomach. Wind or damp wind.

Behind the eyes and \ or sinuses inside areas: the rise of liver yang, liver blood stagnation and \ or dampness especially when originating in the lungs, or due to emotional shifts..

Widespread pain throughout my head: Humidity (originating in the spleen), material weakness, kidney weakness.

Diagnosis according to the nature of the pain:

Localized, sharp pain: stagnation

Amorphous, unfocused pain: deficiency or dampness

Accompanied with irritation, blush and/or red eyes: Heat.