Free Class: Acupressure for Digestive Health

PC-6, excellent for nausea, heartburn, gastritis, or emotional upheaval causing stomach distress.

PC-6 – excellent for nausea, heartburn, gastritis, or emotional upheaval causing stomach distress – one of the many points we’ll be learning about in the free class.

I’ll be teaching a free class on self-care – Acupressure for Digestive Health – Saturday, Oct 3rd at the Natural Grocers at 12155 SW Broadway St, Beaverton, OR 97005. The class is 11-12:30. Come join us!

“Learn about digestion from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine. We’ll discuss some handy acupressure points you can use at home to deal with reflux/ heartburn, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, Crohn’s disease, gastroparesis, gastritis, and blood sugar variations.”

 

Headache & migraine treatment options

Got a headache? The biggest cause is dehydration, so first, have a drink of water. Other common causes are caffeine withdrawal, high blood pressure, stress, low blood sugar, and tight neck muscles. If you have persistent or severe headaches, you should get them checked out by a healthcare professional (If only so they can say “It’s not a tumah!”), but for minor annoyances you can treat it yourself with acupressure (points listed below).

Human skull bonesI usually find that migraines are caused by hormonal imbalances, or by neck muscle tension pulling on cranial bones. Our skulls are not a giant fixed globe: There are lots of different plates and oddly shaped bones that make up our brain protection. The joints (called “sutures”) are shaped like jigsaw puzzles.

My favorite cranial bone, the sphenoid. It barely shows at the side of the head, but inside it makes a gorgeous butterfly shape. When torqued, it also gave me a monstrous migraine headache!

My favorite cranial bone, the sphenoid. It barely shows at the side of the head (it’s pink in the other picture), but inside it makes a gorgeous butterfly shape. When torqued, it also gave me a monstrous migraine headache!

Our bones move with a subtle pulsing called the craniosacral rhythm. If the neck muscles attached to the skull get too tight, they can jam up those joints and cause migraines. The fix: Acupuncture and medical massage for the muscles involved. Craniosacral therapy by a skilled practitioner is also wonderful, but be sure to see someone who’s thoroughly trained. A weekend seminar is not enough! If there are hormonal causes, acupuncture is superb for that as well.

Here’s a handy acupressure point for any headache, including a migraine: It’s in that “second piercing” spot, below the anti-tragus. Press firmly for a few seconds. If you have an earring in, you should remove it if possible, at least until your headache passes. For more information on ear points, check out this article. Also, look at LI-4KD-1, and GB-21 and TB-5  if you have neck tension.

Press firmly with a fingertip or fingernail. It will hurt, but it'll be worth it!
Press firmly with a fingertip or fingernail to stop a headache or migraine. It will hurt, but it’ll be worth it!

 

Ear seeds – Radishes for reflexology!

If you ever attend an event with me, soon you’ll notice people walking around with funny little stickers on their ears. Ear seeds are my mobile acupressure strategy. When people come up to me and ask what I can do about their back pain in the middle of a party… BAM! On go the ear seeds. These are radish seeds on a tiny piece of band-aid tape. There’s nothing magical about the radish – they are just the right size and shape to apply acupressure to any of the 100 points on your ear (map below).

You’re familiar with reflexology, right? You know how your entire body is reflected on your hands and feet? Same deal with the ears. I can treat pain or dysfunction anywhere in the body, emotional upheaval, anxiety, etc. This is why I’m not a huge fan of lots of piercings. It’s also why ear massages are like getting a full body massage, and terrific for immediately calming someone down. Try it the next time your migraines act up, your dog is freaked out, or your sweetheart has road rage. :) Just gently rub the entire ear – don’t worry about hitting specific points for this purpose.

Once the seeds are on, they are working. They will last 3-4 days, and you can shower normally. If you want to give the treatment a boost, and can’t feel them on your ears, give them a gentle squeeze to wake them up. If you are already aware of them, leave them alone… they will probably be pretty tender to the touch! Sometimes people find the ear seeds annoying or sore, particularly if they are side-sleepers or they are working superhard (the more active a point is, the more it can hurt). In that case, just take them off. The point is to make you feel better!

I never charge for ear seeds. Ask me for them anytime – I always have them in my purse, and you are welcome to drop by the clinic for a quick installation.

Note: Some people use ear staples for quitting smoking, weight loss, etc. I prefer earseeds, since sending someone out with an open wound is an invitation to infection. Acupressure is hugely powerful and hurts less, too!

There are about 100 points on the ear, so I can treat nearly anything. Ear seeds are quick, portable, and give you a few days of acupressure.

There are about 100 points on the ear, so I can treat nearly anything. Ear seeds are quick, portable, and give you a few days of acupressure.

Sp-9 – “Damp,” blood sugar, infections, edema

The Spleen* likes to be warm and dry. With our wet weather here, lots of Portland people have Damp issues.  Sp-9  (Yin Ling Quan) will drain damp, usually through urination. It can be used to treat bladder & urinary tract infections, chronic yeast infections, hepatitis, jaundice, and leg edema. It’s also a good long term treatment point for diabetes.

Sp-9Sp-9 lies in the depression posterior and inferior to the medial condyle of the tibia. The easiest way to find it is to run your thumb up the edge of the bone on the inside of your lower leg until it falls into a hole. It will drain damp, usually through urination. It can be used to treat bladder & urinary tract infections, chronic yeast infections, hepatitis, jaundice, and leg edema. If this Sp-9 is active (meaning, it needs some attention!), it’ll be quite sore.

Press gently for 10-20 seconds, with healing intention.

* Remember that in Chinese medicine, the Spleen is an energetic concept and should not be confused with your anatomical organ, the spleen.

 

GB-21 (neck / shoulder tension, rebellious Qi)

Jian Jing (Shoulder Well) is a place many people tend to store their stress. Every day, people come into my office and complain about neck and “shoulder tension.” They really mean the trapezius and levator scapula muscles, not the shoulder joint. I’ve been saying for years that we need a better name for this part of the body, but “noulder” isn’t catching on (for obvious reasons!).

Referred pain and trigger points for the trapezius.

Referred pain and trigger points for the trapezius.

The trapezius is a big muscle, and it does a lot. Carrying heavy loads (especially unbalanced ones – so carry a small purse and use both straps of your backback!), working with your arms up (I’m talking to you, hair stylists!), or just general hunchiness over a computer… all are common causes of tension. The traps refer pain over the head to the eyebrow area, so shoulder tension can give you a severe frontal headache.

GB-21 also descends energy, so it’s good for rebellious rising Qi causing headaches, dizziness, heartburn, or vomiting.

GB-21 for relieving neck and shoulder tension.

 

Find GB-21 at the top of the upper thoracic area (aka “noulder”), halfway between the shoulder joint and the spine. Press firmly for 10-15 seconds with a healing intention. NOTE: Do not use GB-21 on pregnant women.

Also – look into some better ways to release your stress!

Yin Tang (emotional balancing, anxiety, sinus issues)

Yin Tang (pronounced “Yin Tong”) is located directly between the inner borders of your eyebrows. It’s useful for treating sinus problems and frontal headaches, but it’s most often called upon to calm the Shen (spirit). If you are anxious or dealing with stress, you’ll know why it’s also referred to as “The Valium Point.”

Yin TangOther cultures have recognized the importance of this point. It’s close to (below) the “Third Eye” and the 6th Chakra of Indian traditions. In the short-lived TV show Eli Stone, the title character experienced visions when his acupuncturist needled him on the forehead … a little too high, unfortunately (I’m sure I’m not the only acupuncturist who wrote to them – after a while they obscured the actual insertion location with the actor’s hands). Anyway, I wouldn’t expect to start seeing visions, but it will definitely help you find some inner peace.

To use Yin Tang, simply press with a fingertip for about 10 seconds. Take a deep breath, be grateful you’ve backed up your computer, and smile. Don’t you feel better already?

 

Du-20 (to lift energy, clear mind, improve sleep)

Du-20, BaiHui (Hundred Meetings)

Du-20-Hundred-Meetings-BAIHUI-Acupuncture-Points-1-244x300

BaiHui is located on the top of the head, in a subtle depression above the tips of the ears. It can be used to treat a vast variety of complaints. It can improve sleep, sooth internal Wind, clear an overactive mind, and even treat an epileptic seizure.* Du-30 is also terrific for lifting energy, so applications include hemorrhoids, prolapsed uterus, and chronic diarrhea.

Press these two points to improve sleep.

Press these two points to improve sleep.

If you are having trouble falling asleep, or if you wake with a nightmare: Put one fingertip on Du-20, and one on Du-24, a half-inch inside the hairline (or where it used to be) in the center of your forehead. Point your fingers towards each other and press gently with a calm, healing intention for about 10 ten seconds. This combo is great for any type of sleep disturbance, and works best if someone else can perform it for you.

* People with new or unexplained seizures should always be seen immediately by a doctor. In the case of repeated, benign seizures, turn the patient on his or her side, pad the head from impact with the floor, and gently press a fingertip into DU-20.

BL-40 (back pain, knee pain, hot flashes)

BL-40, Wei Zhong (Middle of the Crook), is located in the center of the back of the knee. It’s the Ruler of the Lower Back, so I often use it to treat lumbar problems. It’s also great for deep knee pain and to cool the Blood* – try it if you’re overheated next summer, or if you’re suffering from hot flashes. Other good points for lower back pain: LV-3, GB-34, Du-4.

BL-40, the Ruler of the Back.

*Remember: The Chinese concept of “Blood” is different from your physical blood. I am not talking about your literal circulatory system. :)

GB-34 (any muscle / tendon issue, knee pain, Damp Heat)

GB-34 is Yang Ling Quan (Yang Mound Spring). The name refers to its location on the Yang aspect of the leg. GB-34 is the Ruler of the Sinews (musculoskeletal system), so it will treat muscles, ligaments, and tendons anywhere in the body. It’s particularly effective for knee problems, due to its location. GB-34 can also be used to treat issues like jaundice, nausea, and vomiting. It’s also good for treating Damp Heat, but that’s a fairly complicated Chinese medicine concept related to infection. Ask me if you’re curious.

GB-34 is about an inch anterior and inferior to the head of the fibula. First, find the head of the fibula. This is a knob of bone on the side of your leg,  just below the knee, towards the back. Now slide your finger forward and down into a small dip. It will be tight or tender if treatment is appropriate: Press firmly for 20-30 seconds, with healing intention.

ST-40 (phlegm, wet cough, foggy head)

ST-40

Feng Long is a great point for draining phlegm. Use it when you have a head cold, wet cough, or allergies . Find ST-40 halfway between the knee and the ankle, on the outside of the lower leg. Feel around for a sore spot: You’ll know when you hit it. Press firmly for 10-15 seconds. It’s great for “visible” phlegm, the obvious mucus stopping up your nose and lungs. It’s also useful for “invisible” phlegm, the kind that clogs up your brain and leads to dizziness, vertigo, “foggy headedness” (fuzzy thinking), or mental illness.

ST40