The 3 best pressure points for nausea and how to stimulate them for quick relief
- The best pressure points to relieve
nauseainclude Pericardium 6, Stomach 36, and Kidney 21.
- For many of these pressure points, you can learn how to locate and stimulate them yourself, and you may be able to get quick nausea relief at home.
- This article was medically reviewed by Pooja Amy Shah, MD, a double board-certified doctor of integrative and family medicine at Mindstream, medical acupuncture specialist, and assistant professor at Columbia University Medical Center.
Pressure points are located throughout the body in thin muscle tissue. Stimulating these points with massage can relax muscles and trigger the release of the "feel good" hormones — serotonin and dopamine — which can help reduce pain and inflammation in the body, says Kim Peirano, a licensed acupuncturist at Lion's Heart Wellness in San Rafael, California.
What is acupressure?
This practice — called acupressure — can even help you relieve common ailments, like nausea and vomiting, or headaches.Acupressure encourages the nervous system to relax, which can help regulate the digestive system and reduce symptoms of nausea, Peirano says.
It can be difficult to get the location and pressure exactly right, but with an understanding of the proper technique, you can learn how to effectively stimulate some of these pressure points yourself.There are hundreds of pressure points located throughout the body. According to Periano, here are the three most helpful for alleviating symptoms of nausea.
1. Pericardium 6 (P6) or Neiguan
This is the most popular anti-nausea point. A review of more than 40 trials published in the journal Autonomic Neuroscience in 2006 found that acupressure can reduce some symptoms of nausea, and the P-6 pressure point, in particular, might be the most beneficial for both the prevention and treatment of nausea and vomiting.P6 is located near your wrist. This location is thought to relieve nausea because its meridian pathway travels up the arm and into the chest and upper abdomen, near the stomach. Here's how to find P6 and use this pressure point:
- To access the P6 point, extend your arm out with your palm facing you. Place three fingers (pointer, middle and ring) from your opposite hand right under your wrist.
- Put your thumb in the spot just below your index finger. If you feel two large tendons, or bumps, then you have identified the P6 spot.
- Once you locate P6, slowly apply pressure to this point with your opposite thumb.
- Press firmly on the point for two to three minutes, while moving your thumb in a small circle. You don't want to press so hard that you cause a bruise or severe pain, Periano says, but the pressure should be intense enough to cause a mild, dull ache.
- Repeat this on the other wrist.
You may feel relief immediately, or it may take a few more times of applying pressure. You can repeat this process several times a day.
If you're interested, you can also purchase an over-the-counter band that applies constant pressure to P6, and is intended for pregnant people experiencing nausea.
2. Stomach 36 (ST36) or Zu San LiThis pressure point is located just below the outside of your knee, where the shin bone (tibia) meets your kneecap.
ST36 is thought to help balance your energy, helping your body work more efficiently. This point also has a strong effect on the digestive system, says Peirano.
Here's how to locate ST36 and apply pressure:
- To identify ST36, sit down in a chair and place your hand on either kneecap.
- The point should be where your pinky finger is. You'll know you're in the right place if a muscle pops up while you move your foot up and down.
- Apply firm pressure with your thumb there for two to three minutes, pushing downward.
- Repeat on the other leg with the other hand.
3. Kidney 21 (KID21) or YoumenThis point is located near the ribcage — but you should not attempt to stimulate KID21 on your own because there is a chance you could harm organs located in the area, like your spleen.
To decrease risk of injury, you should seek out a licensed acupuncturist to identify this point. Once you do, it can be very effective at relieving nausea, as it can relieve tension in pathways that interfere with digestion and cause nausea.For example, a 2012 study of 80 pregnant women published in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal found that acupressure on this point decreased the intensity of nausea. The study included 80 pregnant women experiencing nausea in their first trimester of pregnancy. One group received legitimate acupressure and another group received placebo acupressure on the KID21 point for 20 minutes each day over four days. After the four days, the group that received acupressure on KID21 reported lower levels of nausea than the placebo group.
The KID21 point is located just below the breast bone. To access this point, the acupuncturist will have you lie down on your back so they can find the spot in your upper stomach area.
TakeawaysOverall, acupressure can be a safe and effective way to treat mild nausea, but it's important to listen to your body and stop if you feel pain, Peirano says. You can attempt acupressure at home, but you should never try to needle yourself or do acupuncture. Seek out a qualified acupuncturist to receive official treatment.
And, if your nausea symptoms become more severe, or you experience frequent episodes of nausea with chest pain or dark vomit, you should see a doctor for further treatment.
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