Can diagnosis by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) procedures inform the process of identifying the most suitable conventional drug for the treatment of migraine with the purpose of minimising unacceptable side-effects and can an understanding of the actions of conventional drugs for migraine be helpful in planning treatment by TCM?

By Don Clarke

Abstract

It is known that conventional drug treatments can cause unwanted side-effects in patients. Not all patients taking a particular drug experience some or all of the side effects that other patients do. When confronted with side-effects that are unacceptable, doctors then seek to find an alternative drug which possesses equivalent therapeutic effects but avoids or significantly reduces the unacceptable side-effects and will therefore be more suited to those particular patients.

This pilot research project will focus on drugs used for migraine and will seek to explore the question of whether a diagnosis using Traditional Chinese Medicine methods can inform the process of deciding which drugs are most suitable for different people in terms of minimising unacceptable side-effects. It will examine whether understanding the effects of conventional drugs will be able to indicate useful ideas about complementary treatment or lifestyle issues, such as diet, which could also enable a migraineur to minimise the side-effects of a particular drug.

The questions I have sought to answer are:
Can diagnosis by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) procedures inform the process of identifying the most suitable conventional drug for the treatment of migraine with the purpose of minimising unacceptable side-effects and can an understanding of the actions of conventional drugs for migraine be helpful in planning treatment by TCM?

Note: Throughout the text TCM stands for Traditional Chinese Medicine. The standard convention of referring to TCM organ systems (zangfu) by printing their names with the initial letter in upper case is used. In other words, the organ of the body that filters blood is the liver where as the Zang that controls the smooth flowing of Qi and emotions is the Liver. In diagrams, the word xu replaces Deficiency.