Yong Quan (Gushing Spring) KD-1 is located on the sole, about an inch below the “butt cheeks” formed by the ball of the foot. It descends energy, so it’s great for treating some types of headaches, gastroperesis, and acid reflux. It also grounds the patient emotionally and supports the Kidney (Remember, the Chinese energetic organ called the Kidney is not the same as your anatomical kidneys). The Kidney stores your Essence and is associated with the emotion of Fear, so this is a doubly good point to use for PTSD or other issues with being afraid. Of course it’s also useful for plantar fascitis and other foot problems. Press firmly for 20-30 seconds, with a loving, healing intention.
Mingmen, the Gate of Life (AKA Du-4) is located in the center of the spine, just below the 2nd lumbar vertebrae. It’s used for building Yang, treating infertility or sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction, and for lower back pain or weakness.
Be careful stimulating this point if you are using acupressure, since it’s often tender. Applying heat can be useful, especially If you tend to be cold. In my clinic, of course, I use acupuncture and an infrared therapy lamp. At home, you can direct a warm shower stream onto it or use a microwavable rice bag (I have them at the office if you need one).
Shenmen (Spirit Gate)
There are about a hundred points on the ear, including this integral part of any stress or mental illness treatment. It reflects the seat of mental health and is terrific for treating any kind of anxiety, depression, grief, or just a rough day. Give your buddy (or yourself!) an ear massage as a sure-fire way to calm things down. This article discusses a study that shows acupuncture is highly effective for depression, and Shenmen is an essential part of that protocol.
Press firmly for 10-20 seconds with a healing intention.
The Triple Burner channel relates to the fluid in the upper, middle, and lower body. I believe it correlates to the lymphatic system, since it plays a large part in immunity.
The 5th point is named Wai Guan, or Outer Pass. Think about a pass through a mountainside: It lies between the radius and ulna bones of your forearm, about 2 inches from the wrist. “Outer” refers to the back (posterior, Yang) side of the arm, as opposed to the front (anterior, Yin) surface.
Press TB-5 firmly with a fingertip for 10-20 seconds to stimulate your immune system if you have a cold, flu, or any other type of infection. Allergies can benefit from using this point to regulate an over-active immune system. It’s also helpful for aches on the back of the head and neck.
LV-3, Tai Chong (Great Surge)
Liver 3 is found on the top of the foot, between the long bones of the 1st and 2nd toe. It’s a very important point for the Liver, and helps to move stuck energy from the waist down. You can use it to treat lumbar back pain, leg or knee pain – pretty much any stagnation in the lower body. It’s also great for red eyes and other “Yang Rising” problems, and for dysmenorrhea & hormonal imbalances. LV-3 is an excellent point for treating irritability and grouchiness, particularly if it’s due to hormonal issues like PMS.
When used in combination with LI-4, these points are called the Four Gates and can really blast out some stuck Qi. DO NOT use these points if there is any possibility of pregnancy, since they can induce a miscarriage. In fact, they are some of my favorites for evicting overdue babies. It will also increase menstrual flow if the patient is having her period.
Press firmly for 10-30 seconds.
Zu San Li, “Leg Three Miles”, is on the outside of the shin, just a few inches below the knee. Slide your fingertip up the outside edge of the tibia (shinbone) until you fall into a hole. It’s a large point, so trust your instincts. St-36 is deep: Press firmly!
St-36 builds energy in the body: After activating it, you supposedly “can walk another three miles.” I find it useful for treating chronic fatigue or for when you need a temporary boost on a rough day. Since it’s on the Stomach channel, it also helps aid poor digestion.
It nourishes your Yin and activates your Yang. St-36 is the Ruler of the Abdomen, so it’s good for most digestive complaints. Use it to treat indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, gas, malabsorption, diabetes, etc. Note: Stimulation can increase stomach acid, so it’s great for an overfull belly, but bad for ulcers or heartburn / acid reflux.
PC-6, Nei Guan (Inner Pass)
Nei Guan is one of my favorite acupressure points. It’s perfectly safe (no contraindications), easy to find (2 finger widths from your wrist crease), and easily available, even in public while dressed. It’s wonderful for pretty much ANY stomach complaint.
PC-6 is found on the palm side of your forearm, about two fingers’ width from the wrist, between the tendons. It’s often used to treat gastritis (stomach pain), seasickness, nausea and reflux, but Nei Guan settles more than just the digestion. It soothes and grounds the spirit, too, with a gentle calming effect. For this reason, it’s perfect to treat an upset stomach due to emotional upheaval. Press firmly (both left and right arms!) for 10-20 seconds with a healing intention. You can also use an acupressure “sea band” bracelet – just position the hard plastic bead on top of PC-6. They can be found at travel stores, some drugstores, and of course I have them at the office.
Large Intestine 4 is the acupoint most well-known by the general public. I first had it taught to me by a riding instructor when I was a kid living in rural Virginia. The name for this point is Hegu, “Joining Valley,” which is a reference to its anatomical location on the back of your hand, in that fleshy area between the thumb and forefinger. Feel around – it’ll be tender if you need it – but the easiest way to find it is to squeeze your thumb against your hand. The highest point of the muscle is where you want to press. Use firm, gentle pressure for 10-20 seconds with a healing intention. Try both sides.
Hegu, or Joining Valley, is a tremendously useful point. It moves stagnation, so you can use it to clear pain and stiffness anywhere in the upper body. Hegu will be particularly effective along the LI channel, which runs from the nail of the forefinger, along the forearm to the lateral (outside) elbow, up the arm and across the shoulder, eventually crossing the upper lip to end at the opposite side of the nose. Shoulder and elbow pain, carpal tunnel, and (of course) headaches are common uses. It’s specifically the Ruler of the Face, so it’s doubly powerful for frontal headaches, eye pain, sinus blockage, and tooth pain. It also releases heat and is part of a point combination for fighting viral or bacterial infections. If you are prone to hot flashes, this point could be your new best friend. Also use LI-11, pictured here, to clear heat.
And by the way… the leading cause of headache is dehydration. Drink a glass of water!
WARNING: Because Hegu is a moving point, DO NOT use it if you are pregnant or bleeding. It can induce a miscarriage or increase blood loss. On the other hand, if you are overdue and want to evict your baby, this is a great way to do so, along with some other points (assuming everyone is healthy and it’s not a complicated pregnancy!). It will usually increase menstrual flow if the patient is having her period. If you have a severe headache paired with sudden loss of motor control or speech, get to a hospital immediately. DO NOT use LI-4 until you are sure you are not having a hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding inside the brain). This goes for head injuries, too!