Part of being an acupuncturist is fielding the many, many questions people have about what acupuncture is like and how it can help them. Educating people about what acupuncture can do for them is one of the best parts of my job and I’m obsessed with it.
I may or may not have even been talking to my anesthesiologist about acupuncture before he put me under for a recent routine surgery. I’m that nuts about what I do.
One of the things I talk most about with folks is the major difference between how Chinese medicine approaches health and how Western medicine approaches health. In general, when we see our Western medicine doctors, we’re already not feeling well. They try to diagnose our problem and make recommendations about what to do which often results in a prescription or a referral.
Chinese medicine practitioners come at health from the angle of preventing illness before it even happens. We work with where you are now so that the needles and recommendations we make help you not get sick in the first place. This also means that, often, you’ll need to come in for one or more treatments weekly in the beginning, depending on your issue and how long it takes to see some results.
The effects of an acupuncture treatment can last days or even weeks but once someone gets off the table and leaves my office, the world intervenes. A stressful day or week can undo some of the effectiveness of even the best treatment. When patients ask me how they can help themselves outside of my office or when someone asks what they can do for themselves outside of their treatment time, I recommend doing this simple acupressure routine.
You don’t need needles to get the positive effects of an acupuncture point. Simply applying pressure to acupuncture points will get you the positive effects of each point and give you a boost while you’re working through a busy day/week/lifetime. This routine is super quick--you can do it first thing in the morning while you’re caffeinating or before you really start shoveling through your morning email.
You can also wind down with this before bed--it’s great for killing insomnia or the running hamster wheel of thoughts totally dead. The best part is, a daily treatment will help you feel better, think better, look better, and even have a more stable, regular libido.
Using your thumb to press on the point is probably going to be the easiest although any finger will work as well as the middle knuckles on any of the middle three fingers. In short this = good.
Good thumb. Good knuckle. Good.
And this = not so good.
The pressure you apply to each point should feel achy but not torturous. Try to start with light pressure and increase the pressure until you reach the level of Hurts So Good but not Hurts Really Freaking Bad. If you’re creating a bruise, you’re pressing too hard. Keep pressure on the point for 45 seconds to one minute before moving on the the next point. If you feel dizzy, nauseated, or extremely hot/cold while doing this, stop immediately.
1) Yin Tang (You don’t have to know all of the fancy acupuncture names for the points--I’m just putting them here for your reference--you can call this one That Forehead One, good enough.): This point is between your eyebrows, just above the bridge of your nose.
Yin Tang is also the mute button on your internal dialogue. Can’t get out of your own head? Churning over thoughts obsessively? Need to clear out your head? This is a great point for you. If direct pressure on the point makes you headachey, you can rub the point upward from the bridge of your nose toward your hairline. This action will also help iron out any thought lines you might be carrying in that area. Smarter and better looking all in one go--bonus!
2) Lung 7: Many of the points are numbered along a line of points called a meridian. The major meridians are usually associated with an organ and the points on the meridians are numbered. There are some that don’t use this designation system like Yin Tang, but this is generally the convention.
This point is number seven on the Lung meridian. To find it, look at the inside of your arm. Measure about 1 ½ widths of your thumb (thumb widths are the way Chinese medicine measures the point in proportion to your body--since thumb widths are slightly different for everyone, everyone’s point location is slightly different) above your wrist along the bone. If you run your finger up from your wrist to the point that spot that’s achy and maybe has a little dip in it? That’s the spot.
Lung 7 is The Point to boost your immune system and keep away those autumn cold nasties. Far off in the distance, I can hear the snrrrk and snnnnzzzzzle of colds and flus. This point will knock those jerks out before they even get close to you. It’s also a great point for constipation. Yes, you read that correctly. Constipation.
I put a needle in this one so you could see it and also because I didn’t have a hand free to point it out. Follow the thin line from the red handle down to the dent in the skin to see the point.
3) Pericardium 6: Remember those bracelets sold on late night infomercials for motion sickness? They’re stimulating this point. Pericardium 6 is great for motion sickness, morning sickness, or any kind of nausea. It’s also amazing at taking down chest tightness from anxiety or full on anxiety attacks.
Got anxiety that makes you sick to your stomach or keeps you up at night? This point is for you. That tattoo is the Chinese name for this point--Nei Guan. I may have used it a time or twenty.
To find the point, from the center of the underside of your wrist measure two thumb widths down your arm. You might be able to find two tendons running along your arm there--the point is in the middle of the two tendons. This one can be really sensitive for some folks so starting out with gentle pressure is a good idea.
Same thing here--follow the thin line down toward the skin from the red handle to see where the point is.
4) Stomach 36: This point is the Swiss Army knife of acupuncture points. It gives you an immune system boost, addresses digestive problems from nausea and vomiting to gas and bloating, reduces swelling in the legs, reduces coughing and wheezing, and aids in sleep. If you can only do one of these points, this is the one to remember.
To find the point, measure three thumb widths below the bottom of your knee along the bone. Once you’ve measured down, let your finger slide to the outside of the bone. You might feel that achiness or a dip at the location of the point. If you’re having trouble finding it, you can rub down along the side of the bone toward your feet from your knee to your shin--you’ll hit this point and others on the Stomach meridian.
5) Kidney 3: If a hangover is making you feel like death warmed up for breakfast, this point will help you recover. Great for regulating sleep, pushing toxins out, and dealing with dizziness and ringing in your ears, Kidney 3 will help get you back on an even keel again.
Remember that part about a better sex life? This point regulates your libido and clears out your brain which leaves plenty of room for sexyfuntimes. To find the point, look for the bump on the inside of your ankle. Halfway between that bump and your Achilles tendon, in that soft, fleshy area is Kidney 3. Give it some love and help your kidneys bounce back from late nights and early mornings.
If you made it that far, here are a couple of bonus tips:
Rub your ears. There are acupuncture points to address your entire body on your ears. Rub them all over--be sure to get all of the little pockets and that weird flap where your ear attaches to your head to hit all of the bases in less than a minute. In fact, if you really can’t manage any of the above points at all, rub your ears and you’re giving yourself a mini-treatment.
Mini-treatment at the office, yay!
Drink a glass of water. Chances are, you’re dehydrated. Go get yourself a glass right now and drink it down. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Done? Ok, awesome.
Congratulations--you just gave yourself a great treatment and rehydrated in five minutes. And, honestly, it takes longer to read this article than it does to just give the points a little love, rub your ears, and drink a glass of water.