We’ve all heard the term Acupuncture and understand that it involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific acu-points on the body….but what is Acupressure?
Acupressure uses the same principles as Acupuncture, however is simply the use of fingers (or elbows or a blunt implement) to apply gentle force or pressure on those specific acu-points.
The points can still be chosen for their specific therapeutic reasons, and while not as strong as the insertion of needles into these points, acupressure can be thought of as a type of massage which may be more appealing to some people. Acupuncture is a more serious and effective treatment, whereas Acupressure is more a short-term temporary fix.
Nausea/vomiting, headaches and sleep difficulties are some common issues where one would use acupressure.
Acupressure is a great tool for home use. If you know what points to use you can do it for yourself, or have someone do it for you that doesn’t need to be trained. Pressure should be applied for about 30 seconds-2 minutes at a time until relief of the symptoms is experienced.
Below I outline a few handy points to use for various ailments – have a try and see how it feels!
He Gu – LI4
This powerful point is located on the Colon or Large Intestine channel, and although it can certainly impact that area it has far more uses.
Located in the webbing at the junction between the thumb and index finger the point is quite large and acupressure can be applied in a circular rubbing motion or simply squeezing or pushing down.
This is the best acu-point for self-use if you are suffering with a headache. In fact any problems of the head or face will benefit from the use of this point – for example sinus pain, toothache, common cold etc. It can also encourage regular and easy bowel movements.
This is not a recommended point for those who are pregnant as it can be quite stimulating on the body.
Nei Guan – PC6
This is quite a famous and well researched acu-point, used primarily for nausea and vomiting. In fact you are able to buy ‘travel bands’ at the chemist, to wear on the wrists which have a small ball which applies pressure to this point for those who suffer with motion sickness. I have actually used these bands for morning sickness myself, as have plenty of my patients!
A great point also for any other digestive issues – pain, indigestion, reflux or hiccups – it encourages the Qi of the Stomach to flow downwards instead of rebelling upwards. It is also a good point for relieving anxiety or stress.
The point is located on the inside of the wrist, three finger breadths up from the wrist crease, on the centre line in between the two tendons.
Gentle massage and pressure of this point should show some relief within a few minutes. If travelling in a car/boat, regular treatment may need to be given.
Zusanli – ST36
This is one of the most commonly used acu-points in the body due to its multitude of uses. It’s English name translates to Three Mile Leg and was regularly needled or ‘acupressured’ by Chinese soldiers during the war to give them more energy for endurance.
It is a great point for boosting overall immunity and vitality of the body. It boosts the production of Qi and Blood in the body so will promote overall wellness. Great for fatigue and weakness it also helps the digestive system.
The location of this point is 4 finger breadths below the base of the kneecap on the outer edge of the shin bone. It is often fairly tender to press.
Gentle massage or pressure on this point should give relief of symptoms within a few minutes. If not, keep applying pressure or massage in 2 minute rounds until relief is felt.
Please note, that Acupressure should not be substituted for medical diagnosis and treatment, but simply used as a handy tool alongside other therapy or to assist with minor ailments.
Relief will be subtle and can be short-term, so if symptoms persist please see a qualified medical professional.