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Acupressure Points

Everyone experiences gas, bloating, and other uncomfortable digestive symptoms from time to time. However, for people with sensitive stomachs, these symptoms can appear more frequently and may require treatment.

Acupressure is a type of traditional Chinese medicine that’s believed to be effective for gasbloating, and stomach pain, among other conditions.

We explore whether acupressure is beneficial for the digestive system, and how to use acupressure to ease gastrointestinal symptoms.

About acupressure points

Traditional Chinese medicine has a long history of use not just in China, but all around the world.

In modern holistic health culture, traditional techniques — such as acupuncture and acupressure — have become popular alternatives to some Western techniques.

Acupressure is a type of traditional Chinese massage therapy that focuses on stimulating various pressure points around the body. Massaging these pressure points is believed to help control the flow of energy around the body, as well as positively influence overall metabolism.

Not only is acupressure said to help with the release of gas, but it’s also believed to benefit other digestive conditions, such as stomach pain and constipation.

Acupressure points for gas and bloating

Acupressure points are located all around the body along what traditional Chinese medicine refers to as “meridians,” or energy pathways.

Each meridian corresponds to an organ inside the body, and each acupressure point is named after its location along the meridian.

Stimulating the following acupressure points through massage therapy may help relieve trapped gas and reduce uncomfortable bloating.

Many of these acupressure points are also believed to influence the stomach, intestines, and other abdominal organs to promote digestive health.

1. Zusanli (ST36)

Zusanli, also known as ST36, is located on the stomach meridian and is thought to influence:

  • upper abdominal organs
  • parasympathetic nervous system
  • master energy

Point location: Roughly 3 inches below the kneecap, about 1 inch toward the outer edge.

To massage this point:

  1. Place two fingers on the zusanli point.
  2. Move fingers in a circular motion using gentle, firm pressure.
  3. Massage for 2–3 minutes and repeat on the other leg.
2. Sanyinjiao (SP6)

Sanyinjiao, also known as SP6, is located on the spleen meridian and is believed to influence:

  • lower abdominal organs
  • parasympathetic nervous system

Point location: Roughly 3 inches above the bone of the inner ankle.

To massage this point:

  1. Place one to two fingers on the sanyinjiao point.
  2. Move fingers in a circular motion using gentle, firm pressure.
  3. Massage for 2–3 minutes and repeat on the other leg.
3. Qihai (CV6)

Qihai, also known as CV6, is located on the conception vessel meridian and is thought to influence:

  • lower abdominal organs
  • overall energy

Point location: Roughly 1 1/2 inches below the navel.

To massage this point:

  1. Place two to three fingers on the point location.
  2. Using gentle pressure, move fingers in a circular motion. Make sure not to press too hard, as this area can be sensitive.
  3. Massage for 2–3 minutes.
4. Zhongwan (CV12)

Zhongwan, also known as CV12, is also located on the conception vessel meridian and is believed to influence:

  • upper abdominal organs
  • yang organs, including the bladder and gallbladder

Point location: Roughly 4 inches above the navel.

To massage this point:

  1. Place two to three fingers on the zhongwan point.
  2. Apply gentle pressure in a circular motion, making sure not to press too hard.
  3. Massage for 2–3 minutes.
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5. Weishu (BL21)

Weishu, also known as BL21, is located on the bladder meridian and is thought to influence:

  • abdominal pain
  • gastrointestinal disorders

Point location: Roughly 6 inches above the small of the back and 1 1/2 inches outward on either side of the spine.

To massage this point:

  1. Place one to two fingers on the weishu point.
  2. Apply gentle pressure in a circular motion.
  3. Massage for 1–2 minutes. Do not massage this point if you have any contraindicated conditions, such as a slipped disk or spine weakness.
Do acupressure points for gas and bloating work?

The research on using acupressure for digestive conditions is sparse, with most of the research focusing on acupuncture instead.

However, there is some clinical research that suggests acupressure may have a positive impact on painful digestive symptoms such as gas and bloating.

In one studyTrusted Source, researchers investigated the effects of acupressure on 70 hemodialysis patients with constipation. During the study period, patients underwent acupressure 3 times per week for a period of 4 weeks.

The researchers found that stimulation of the common abdominal acupressure points resulted in increased gas release and improved bowel function.

In a similar study  from 2015, researchers analyzed the benefits of acupressure for 78 adult psychiatric patients with constipation.

The study participants self-administered acupressure for a period of 10 days and were assessed for the severity of their symptoms. According to the results, participants in the acupressure intervention group experienced a reduction in constipation symptoms, such as gas and bloating.

Although the research indicates that acupressure can have positive effects on gastrointestinal symptoms, more research is still needed to determine the benefits.

Are there downsides to acupressure points for gas and bloating?

Acupressure is a relatively safe health practice. However, individuals with certain chronic conditions, such as bleeding disorders or chronic pain, should speak with their doctor before trying acupressure.

When you perform acupressure on yourself, you should always use firm, but gentle pressure on the skin. Using too much pressure, especially when stimulating sensitive areas, may cause pain or bruising, among other symptoms.

What other home remedies can you follow to relieve gas and bloating?

Acupressure isn’t the only treatment for gas and bloating. You might consider giving these home remedies a try:

  • Rule out food intolerances. Food intolerances and allergies can cause uncomfortable symptoms, such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and more. Limit any foods that your body doesn’t tolerate.
  • Eat more slowly. When you eat quickly, you’re more likely to take in excess air, which can turn into gas. Eating smaller meals can also help reduce post-meal bloating.
  • Increase your fiber intake. Fiber is important for a healthy digestive tract. Eating enough fiber can help you avoid the uncomfortable symptoms of constipation.
  • Try prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics and probiotics are beneficial for your gut bacteria. Eating foods high in these nutrients can give your gut what it needs to run smoothly.
Can acupressure points be used for stomach pain?

Outside of more serious underlying conditions, constipation, diarrhea, and excess gas are common causes of stomach pain.

According to the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP), there are over 28 acupressure points that are indicated for abdominal pain.

Some of these points include:

  • baohuang (BL48): located beneath each side of the small of the back
  • fushe (SP13): located by the hipbones
  • wailing (ST26): located below each side of the navel
  • yuji (LU10): located at the base of each thumb
Can acupressure points be used for constipation?

Much of the research on acupressure for digestive conditions focuses on using acupressure to reduce the symptoms of chronic constipation.

In the studies mentioned above, the following additional acupressure points were indicated for constipation:

  • daheng (SP15): located on either side of the navel
  • hegu (LI4): located below each index finger
  • quchi (LI11): located along the inner crease of each elbow
  • taichong (LV3): located above each large toe
  • tianshu (ST25): located on either side of the navel

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